But before you do (you knew there was going to be a catch), we’d like to offer a word of caution. A lot of business leaders arrive at this very place without one important ingredient. An open mind.
Before you even started reading this guide, you likely already had an idea of the kind of marketing you want to do. You saw another company sending emails and you liked the look of them. Or you attended an amazing event and wanted to host one of your own. Or a friend told you about the mind-blowing success they had with PPC.
Here’s a nickel’s worth of free advice. The marketing activities you had before you started formalizing your plan? Ditch them.
If you go into this step with predisposed bias, your chances of making the best strategic decision drop considerably. We’re not saying your original plan is bad. It might be incredible. Or it might not be a good fit for your company at all.
All we’re asking is that you hold off on making a final decision about your marketing activities until you’ve considered all the factors. Fair enough?
How to make good marketing choices
Okay, so how do you know which marketing activities will fit for your company? You need to take a good, hard look at three specific areas.
1. Your budget
The budget you developed back in step 3 serves as a guide for one very simple, very pragmatic reason. Some marketing activities are more expensive than others.
It doesn’t really matter how much you want to rent out an entire amusement park for your prospects. Sure, you’d probably get some blazing-hot leads out of that. But you can’t afford it. Period.
Any potential marketing activity that falls outside your budget isn’t an option. Let that stuff go.
2. Your goals
Do you need sales in the next quarter? Are are you good right now and more interested in long-term growth with increased customer retention?
We’d argue that all marketing is long-term. You can’t really dabble in marketing. If you’re going to do it, you have to commit. That said, some marketing activities are more likely to produce fast results than others.
Hot leads close faster than cold ones. You need to know what kind of results you want.
3. Your strengths
We’ll let you in on a secret. Virtually every IT company thinks they’re good at sales. The vast majority of them are not. (No judgement here!) That’s part of the challenge when picking marketing activities.
You have to get really honest with yourself. If you don’t have a powerhouse sales team, admit that. If you’re not good at presentations, or terrified of public speaking, or just generally uncomfortable with networking, this is the time to fess up.
Dig down and determine your strengths and weaknesses. You want marketing activities that play to your strengths.
It’s all about balance
We mentioned the cost of lead acquisition and the cost of client acquisition when we talked budget numbers in step 3. It’s time to revisit that idea. The best possible marketing activities for your company are the ones that bring both of those numbers as low as possible.
In other words, it’s a smart business decision to reduce costs. Shocking, right?
The less it costs you to get your hands on qualified leads (the cost of lead acquisition) that you can actually close (the cost of client acquisition), the better. But cheap leads you can’t close are no good. And awesome leads you can’t afford don’t really work, either.
We’re looking for the sweet spot in the middle.
Yeah, but what does it look like?
Talking about marketing activities, budgeting and goals in the abstract is informative, but a bit on the philosophical side. Unless you have a history of coordinating marketing campaigns, it’s hard to know how to apply this information.
How about a few practical examples?
Each of the following three marketing activities has the potential to be wildly successful—if it fits for your company. The trick is to make sure you’re prepared for the cost, aware of the quality of leads you’ll get, and equipped to do what you need to do for conversion.
Email marketing is a modern classic. The cost is low, just about anyone can do it, and it absolutely generates leads. Sounds like the perfect fit for just about anyone, right?
Hold on there, slugger.
First, while the cost is low, email marketing isn’t free. You’ll need a platform for organizing campaigns (we use Campaign Monitor), someone to produce copy, someone to design your emails, and an email list.
If you’re trying to trim costs as much as possible, you might want to check out MailChimp’s Forever Free plan. If you’re a decent writer, you can tackle the copy and design on your own to further cut costs. But you will absolutely need two things: a quality email list and strong sales skills.
Email leads are rarely hot leads. If your team doesn’t handle follow up well, this marketing activity probably isn’t a good fit for you.
One of the most common types of pay-per-click (PPC) ads is Google AdWords—those search results you see on Google with the little green “Ad” tag below the link. Because they pop up when someone does a specific search for a product or service, they tend to produce much higher-quality leads.
And like so many things in life, with higher quality comes a higher price.
PPC ads are billed exactly as the name implies—by the click. Every time someone clicks on your ad, you pay. Depending on the keywords you choose for your ads, the cost per click could be pennies or dollars. For every click.
As a general rule, you need to be ready to commit a minimum of $2,000 for a PPC campaign. And don’t expect hundreds of leads for that price. You’re more likely to get 10—at most.
Wait. That few?!
Yes. Because these will be folks who are actively looking to buy what you sell. You won’t have to do a lot of cold calling. You just need to be able to deliver a solid presentation to an interested prospect.
We’ll be candid. Events are chaotic, expensive and fun.
Our favorite kind of event is a movie premiere. It’s not that difficult to arrange a private screening of a movie the night before its nationwide release. And talk about compelling. Who doesn’t want to see the next Star Wars movie a day before anyone else can?
But booking a theater and providing food and drinks for a movie premiere isn’t cheap. You’ll easily spend $15,000+ for an event like this.
There are less expensive event options—everything from happy hour mixers to other creative venues. But movie events are almost always well-attended, so long as you pick a film everyone’s aching to see. (Obscure foreign biopics aren’t your best bet.)
While that’s a lot of coin to drop on a single evening, the leads you’ll get from it are golden. We’ve seen MSPs book as much as 50 appointments as a result of a single movie event. And since any one of those potential clients could bring in enough recurring revenue to cover the cost of the whole event, it’s not the gamble it might seem at first blush.
As marketing activities go, that’s hard to beat. In fact, we love this marketing activity so much that we’ve included our movie event checklist as a downloadable resource at the end of this post.
All you need is the marketing budget to take care of the upfront cost—you can offset that some with MDF funds—and strong public speaking skills. Any movie event should begin with a short presentation about your products or services. That’s how you book those appointments.
So if you’re shy in front of crowds (or you just can’t stomach the idea of spending that much), this won’t work for you.
Know what you’re good at
Which marketing activity is best?
All of them. Or none of them. It depends on you.
You’ll have to decide on your budget and what your strengths are. Then prepare yourself and your staff for the kind of leads you’ll be getting. When your expectations, resources and skills are all aligned, you’re set up for marketing success.