Coco is the newest film from Disney/Pixar. It’s a magical story about the power of music and the importance of family. Set in Mexico, it beautifully captures the sights, sounds and colors of the culture.
And there’s good reason for that. As the film’s creators explain in this video, they didn’t skip a single step when it came to prep work.
That’s what it takes to create something really powerful. You can’t cut corners. You have to work through each and every step.
We’re giving away all our IT marketing secrets
Pixar doesn’t keep their recipe for success a secret. And neither do we. This post is the first in a 12-part series about “high-performance IT marketing.”
That sounds all official, right? I know. We’re legit.
In all seriousness, we’ve spent the last several years fine-tuning IT marketing. From the moment we start with a new client, we’re thinking strategically. Even playful content (like this post) is a carefully calculated piece of a larger puzzle.
And you know what? That’s what high-performance IT marketing is. Calculated. Strategic. Well thought out and deliberately executed.
We’ve generated more than 100,000 leads for our clients, and in this series, we’re giving away all our insider info. Take it. It’s yours. Use it to super-charge your own IT marketing.
If you’re looking for ROI, this is how you get it.
A journey of 1,000 miles
Lao Tzu is credited with saying, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” IT marketing is certainly a journey, and in this post we’re going to start with step one.
Get this step right and you’re on your way to IT marketing greatness. Screw it up and any success you have will be accidental . . . and really hard to duplicate.
I can’t emphasize that enough.
A lot of would-be marketers are ready to just jump in. They want to start promoting posts on Facebook and throwing up ads on Google. That’s what the big players do, right?
Yes and no. Yes, they use some of those strategies, but no, they do not just start posting stuff. They start with clearly defined goals.
Establishing the goals
In prepping to write this post, I spent some time talking to our CEO, Gio. When he presents at industry conferences like IT Nation and DattoCon, he shares these very same steps for IT marketing success.
So, you know, I thought he might be a good reference point. He was.
That’s Gio talking about Step One: Establishing the Goals.
Effective marketing is all about results, but there’s a catch. You have to know WHAT results you want, and you need to flesh out exactly what those results look like so you’ll have some idea of whether or not you’re meeting your goals.
You can’t hit a target if you don’t even know what the target looks like.
For most MPSs, there are three potential goals. If you’re trying to develop your own IT marketing strategy, this is your homework. Read over each of the following possible targets and decide which ONE you want to focus on first.
Don’t try to split your focus. Not out of the gate. And don’t take any shortcuts. Answer every single question under the goal you decide to pursue.
Like I said, high-performance IT marketing is calculated. So, let’s drill down and figure out what you need to set your sights on first.
Leads are like french fries. Everybody likes ‘em, the warmer the better. So it makes sense that most of our clients are interested in IT marketing that generates leads. But there’s a problem with that goal.
“It’s too vague,” Gio told me.
It’s not enough to know you want leads. That’s not the basis for IT marketing. If you want a strategic plan, you’re going to need more details than that.
First you need to understand what a lead is. Here is the industry definition of a sales lead.
Then, ask questions like,
- How many leads does it take to set an appointment?
- How many appointments lead to formal proposals?
- How many proposals do you have to present to get a close?
- How much is your average deal worth?
- What are your monthly revenue goals?
From there, you can work backwards to determine how many leads you need on a monthly basis to hit your target. Also be sure to take into account the cost of acquisition.
For example, events (like private movie screenings) typically generate a lot of leads. But they’re also expensive. The same thing goes for Pay Per Click (PPC) ads, like Google Adwords. You may not have the budget to spend that much on leads.
Less expensive options include things like email campaigns and online form submissions.
A second option is to focus on promoting brand (or company) awareness. You won’t necessarily get millions of leads from brand awareness, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valuable.
And I know what you’re thinking. If brand awareness doesn’t generate leads—which you kind of need to get sales—what’s the point?
Over at Forbes, Scott Goodson summed up the value of branding this way: “No branding, no differentiation. No differentiation, no long-term profitability.”
Branding is how you set yourself apart from the competition. It’s the personality and flavor of your company. Without it, your company is entirely forgettable. But with it, everyone from prospects to the competition will remember who you are, what services you provide, and how you’re different.
Branding is definitely a key component of IT marketing. But building brand recognition is not like generating leads. Completely different strategies apply:
- The cornerstone of your brand is your website. It’s the hub for everything. All your campaigns will point to it, so make sure it reflects who your company is. If it doesn’t clearly distinguish you from the competition, then you’re missing your biggest brand-building opportunity.
- Social media is also huge right now for brand awareness. Most of our clients focus on Facebook and LinkedIn. And while promoted posts are typically short, that doesn’t mean this is an easy form of marketing to tackle.
- Make sure you follow best practices for both Facebook and LinkedIn. A post that breaks from these rules isn’t likely to perform well.
- Think through your budget, and be ready to commit a bare minimum of $500 to any kind of social media campaign.
- And just like we recommended when crafting emails, do A/B testing. That’s the only way to gauge what works and what doesn’t.
The last potential outcome for high-performance IT marketing is positioning yourself as a thought leader.
Here’s how that works.
Right now you’re reading a blog post on our website. Why? Because we know IT marketing and we’re serious about sharing our knowledge. If this were pure sales push, you wouldn’t be 1000+ words into it. And if this didn’t include actionable, helpful content, you’d already be on to the next thing . . . whether that’s a work project or videos of people popping zits.
Yes, that’s a real thing. Yes, people really record video of it. No, we’re not including a link. It’s gross. You can Google it if you really wanna see.
Being a thought leader means regularly producing practical content that has value in and of itself. For an IT company, that includes things like:
- Basic IT maintenance guides and checklists
- Overviews of complex topics like cybersecurity, back and disaster recovery or regulatory compliance
- Tips and tricks on [fill in the blank with any common pain point]
- Reviews and recommendations about the best solutions for everything from VoIP to cloud storage
This strategy only works if your content is as helpful as possible. Basically, you want people to feel smarter because they read something on your site.
Email rules them all
You can use email to accomplish all three of these goals. It’s the quickest, most cost-effective place to start. Plus, it’s fairly easy to design an email around a specific goal.
How about some examples?
Lead generation emails have a clear call to action. They shouldn’t sound “salesy” because, frankly, no one likes that. But they should prompt action.
Brand awareness emails highlight who you are. Common brand awareness campaigns highlight things like a website redesign, your brochure, or even company culture.
Thought leadership emails are focused on sharing helpful, valuable information. Be sure to promote your own helpful content without any strings attached.
Mix it all up
Naturally, you don’t have to roll with a single approach. Once you get going, you can use helpful content (Target #3) to build brand awareness on social media which then links back to a landing page on your website (Target #2) with a contact form for follow up (Target #1).
But DO NOT start there.
I’m serious. It sounds easy. It’s not. Especially in the beginning. Instead, pick ONE area to concentrate on, and really focus your effort, energy and budget on that. Don’t even think about adding anything else to the mix until that first strategy is paying off.
When you can track ROI, then it’s time to consider expanding your efforts. Not before.
The single best place for most MPSs to start is with lead generation. Remember, that’s the main thing we help our clients with. That’ll give you tangible results . . . if you’re thorough and really dig into all the strategic questions listed above.
And that’s the perfect place to end this post, because the next post in this series will cover KPIs—how to identify, target and track them.