Technology marketing advice for companies and consultants selling computer products and services to help you get customers, keep customers and sell more to your installed base. And how to do that most profitably.
What’s key to success in technology marketing:
- Attracting early adopters, the gadget guys and gals who love new technology and computer products and services. They want to be first to buy and try. They upgrade and are tolerant to bleeding edge mishaps.
- Just don’t focus your business model on early adopters because they’re not like “normal people”, the mainstream buyers who want a safe buy or personalized service or products just for their specific need.
- Getting the “smart friends” to recommend your company, products or services. Smart friends are not the early adopters generally. They are the early mainstream buyers who are practical, pragmatic and like “human bridges” to help other people understand, learn, set-up and fix computer products. There’s one in every office and in every neighborhood. They’re the “go-to” (generally guys) who other people seek out for advice about computer products and services. They’re like a free help desk or IT consultant. They work for thanks or a homemade pie or a six pack of beer. Their advice is very credible.
- Tailoring your marketing messaging to speak differently to early adopters, smart friends, technology mainstream buyers/consumers, and professional IT buyers and their company decision-makers. Each of these customer segments will respond best to tailored messages and benefits.
- Reducing support costs or getting customers to pay for personal service. How can you offer information on your website or through apps that will help customers/clients better and faster than them calling? That’s your challenge.
- Thinking constantly about the lifetime value of a customer/client and how to sell relevant new computer products and services to them in a way they will find helpful, well-timed and relevant. You can use technology to help you do that. Develop a contact plan and personalize it for your customers.
- Reducing your cost of customer/client acquisition. How to get more referrals and word-of-mouth marketing working in your favor. How to anticipate and intersect people when they are ready to learn about and research new computer products and services.
- Investing in (or knowing about) the next new thing.
Recommended books for technology marketing professionals:
Escape Velocity by Geoffrey Moore summarizes key insights and most actionable ideas on technology marketing for established companies. Geoff has written other books to help start-ups (Crossing the Chasm) and companies in high growth (Inside the Tornado). If you haven’t read these books, do so! We’d also highly recommend the book Selling to VITO – very important technology officer.
Most people need computer products and services when:
- Something breaks
- Hardware doesn’t work any more because of new software requirements
- They have a new hire at a business
- For a family, a student is going away to college or entering high school
- They move or expand their business to a new location
- They want to be able to do something new (like create videos for a family or for a business handle automate supply chain management)
- They decide they have the time and money to upgrade their equipment
- They are buying a gift for someone else (graduation, Father’s Day, Christmas)
Know this: These are called “trigger events” that initiate a purchase process for computer products and services. Some are planned and some are reactions. As a company or individual selling computer products and services, your marketing needs to work well to anticipate and intersect people who are researching alternatives as well as those people who are seeking you out through a referral.
Learn more about Trigger Events in Marketing
Job # 1 for marketing computer products and services:
Get the basics in place to be there when people are looking for what you are selling
Create a website where people can learn more about your business.
Make sure your website is set up so that it will be found by people searching on Google and other search engines.Learn more about keyword searching.
Use search advertising to intersect people when they are researching alternatives. Learn more about search advertising.
Present your business in a professional way with a logo, colors and typeface. That’s all part of branding. Use the visual identity you create on all your signs and marketing. If you’ve been in business a long time, you may need to refresh your brand look to look more current.
Describe your business in a meaningful and compelling way that will differentiate what you offer from your competitors and attract the kind of customers who will be most profitable. This is called positioning.
Create a simple brochure about your services. Use it to educate your existing and prospective customers about all the services you offer.
Create 2-sided or folded business cards that are like mini ads for your business. Hand these cards out to your existing customers, at trade shows or events and give them to other business owners to use to refer business to you.
Job #2: Focus on CRM, customer relationship marketing
Collect the names and contact information for your customers, especially their email address and cell phone number.
Create a simple customer database to save and update your customer information. This is one of your businesses most valuable assets. Treat it that way! Track what services and products they buy with dates.
Analyze and segment (cluster) your customers who are most profitable, loyal, vulnerable, new, unprofitable, difficult to deal with, refer the most business to you, etc. This will help you tailor your marketing programs, spending and messaging to these different groups. This is called customer segmentation.
Set up a customer contact plan to keep your business top of mind. You want to contact customers at least once a quarter with some type of relevant message. The least expensive way to do this is using email.
Invest in an email marketing service that will allow you to send professional-looking newsletters, alerts and messages to your customers.
Focus on marketing to your most profitable and pleasant to serve customers. You want to identify these people and find more customers who are like them. Learn how to identify these important customers.
Focus on improving customer satisfaction. It’s much less expensive to sell to existing customers than to attract new ones. Keep your existing customers so happy they refer others.
Treat your best customers like VIPs.
Get more referrals! What complementary businesses can you form alliances with where you promote their products/services and they do the same for you? Are you asking your customers for referrals? And thanking them when they do refer others to you? You want to be sure to reward this behavior.
Next: Attract new customers
Buy a direct mail list of people within a reasonable driving distance of your business. Also buy lists of new move-ins for homeowners and businesses.
Try direct mail marketing. Send direct mail postcards or letters with a brochure about your services or products. It’s often less expensive and more effective than advertising.
Create and host seminars or events. Get your best customers to bring people.
Get the press and bloggers to cover you and your business. This will make you look like an expert. Be sure to share any press you get with your existing customers. That will reinforce how smart they are to be working with you. And for prospective new customers, press coverage will make choosing you seem more like a “safe choice”. This is a part of PR (public relations.)
Schedule time for business networking every week with people who can and will refer business to you.
Consider all the different types of advertising but invest with caution. Consider advertising in the local paper every week so you have a regular presence. That’s expensive so you may want to invest more in direct marketing and email marketing.
TIP: Use coupons and price off deals to attract people at times when you aren’t busy. You don’t want people using coupons taking up appointments during peak times when you could be serving full paying customers. Coupons that are available for peak times signal to people that you’re not worth full price. That’s risky. They also tend to attract “switchers”, people who buy whatever is on sale and aren’t loyal. Use coupons and trial offers during slow times of the year or month.