Q&A | June 2, 2014

No Excuses: You CAN Market Your IT Business

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By Bernadette Wilson, associate editor, Business Solutions magazine
Follow Me On Twitter @bernadeditor

Marketing Your IT Business

Finalists gave presentations at the “Better Your Best” competition at the 2014 Technology Marketing and IT Sales Training Boot Camp in Nashville, TN, vying for the chance to be the spokesperson for Technology Marketing Toolkit. Although they were giving presentations in a competition, their stories of marketing their IT businesses successfully added up to a compelling argument that regardless of the obstacles you face, you can market your business. Robin Robins, CEO and author of the Technology Marketing Toolkit, quoted Mark Twain: “There is nothing so annoying as a good example!”

Robins says she started the competition based on the same principles as the toolkit: “Anything that’s measured improves, and anything that’s measured and reported grows exponentially.”

Tom Andrulis, CEO of Intelligent Technical Solutions (ITS), who took the 2014 Better Your Best title, told his peers at the conference, prior to his company’s recent success, it experienced a downturn. “I learned a lot. I learned to ask for help,” he says. “Marketing allowed us to get more customers and more profitable ones,” he comments. “Our sales team was more effective at closing new managed monthly recurring revenue (MRR) contracts.” Revenues grew from $1.7 million in 2012 to $3.9 million the following year. Net profits increased by 231 percent during that same time period.  He says tracking results of marketing campaigns is critical: “If you aren’t tracking results, it’s like playing darts blindfolded.”

Mike Clemmons, president of Bytecafe Consulting, who took the title of runner-up in the competition, is proof marketing is possible, regardless of the size of your business. I didn’t have any sales people — just me. He says he “didn’t do anything fancy,” just consistently followed a plan. He says this enabled his company to increase its bottom line by 163 percent last year — as well as adding 82 percent more managed services revenues and more than $1 million in new sales. Clemmons told the audience at the presentations that he hired Bytecafe’s first sales representative in February — and that he, himself, attended CharTec sales training. “If you don’t know how to sell, how can you manage people who are going to be selling for your company?” he asks.

Better Your Best finalist Bruce McCully, owner of Dynamic Edge, told his peers, “If you’re a computer nerd and you’re trying to do marketing — you’re me.” He says he makes it work with three steps: automation, process, and documentation. He tracks metrics and gives a weekly report to his team. “If I’m off target, they know it,” he says. His efforts produced consistent results — and more than $3.6 million in revenue while maintaining profitability.

Finalist Raj Goel, co-founder and owner of Brainlink International, says he “got hooked” on MRR. “It’s cheaper per desktop or per server, but they pay you every month.” He says he transitioned his clients to the new business model in 2010 and 2011, and added the principles from the Technology Marketing Toolkit in 2013. “Our strategy is to be insanely referable. Be a celebrity,” he advises. “Ask, ‘what image do I want to project to the client?’” He also comments, “ConnectWise is your friend. It will help you make more money than you thought possible.” Goel’s company’s combined efforts grew Brainlink’s net profits 535 percent.

Charles Henson, VP of Nashville Computer, also confirms a combination of strategic, consistent marketing and MRR offerings results in success — his company’s MRR grew to $82,000 in 2013, compared to $10,000 in 2009, and last year, they broke the $2 million mark and had a 101 percent increase in net profits.

Allison Kirk, director of marketing for WAMS, an IT company providing services and solutions to law firms, says WAMS success is based on developing “predictable, repeatable marketing systems.” WAMs strategy is to know its market, to provide education that positions the company as the expert in this niche, and to base marketing on this. She suggested three takeaways to her audience:

  1. Just start marketing
  2. It doesn’t have to be complicated
  3. Be patient.  

She adds that campaigns don’t always have to pay off with an immediate response. “Just get them into the machine and keep trying,” she says. WAMS grew from $3.5 million in revenue to almost $6 million in less than 3 years.

Finalist Michel Ringelberg, VP of creative services for NeXt I.T., says learning principles from the toolkit took marketing from “looking good and not performing” to delivering consistent results: revenues increased from $1.6 to $3.6 million, with a goal of $4.3 million this year. Among her marketing tools are social media and newsletters to broadcast NeXt I.T.’s message. She challenged the audience to do two things: to do a campaign and to have fun and be creative. Ringelberg reminds IT marketers, “You have to set a goal to accomplish anything.”

Robin Robins is a marketing and sales coach for managed services providers, VARs and companies selling IT services. To get a free one-on-one marketing consultation and customized marketing plan for your IT services business, go to www.toolkitlive.com/businesssolutions.

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