Finding time to market your services as an IT provider can be challenging. No business owner wants to throw a ton of money into marketing and sales tactics if they’re not going to see a return on investment – so choosing the right activities to focus your time and effort on is important. An often overlooked method for marketing your IT services is through events. If you’ve never hosted an event, this may seem a daunting prospect, but there are a few types of events that don’t require a lot of time to organize, won’t kill your marketing budget, and offer a good return on your investment.
Host a Lunch and Learn or Business Breakfast
Inviting people to enjoy a free breakfast or lunch is a great way to get your presentation in front of multiple people at the same time while not breaking the bank. You can host a catered event in your own conference room or book a banquet room in a restaurant. Engage with your strategic vendor partners to help with the costs and the presentation.
The key to successful lunch and learn and business breakfast events is to keep them to no longer than ninety minutes – the typical length of the corporate break. This means you need a presentation that is attention-grabbing, direct and to-the-point, and offers a good mix of educational content and sales. Aim for the 80/20 rule; with 80% of your content providing valuable information your prospects can learn from and 20% offering information about your services.
Always have your attendees complete a short questionnaire on their way out to rate their satisfaction of the content, speakers and venue, and ask if they would like you to meet with them afterwards to learn more about the solution you've just shared. Make sure to leave enough time before and after the lunch for networking and scheduling follow-up appointments with your attendees.
Schedule Regular Webinars
Use GoToMeeting, Zoom or Skype for Business, or any other online service that allows you to present your screen to multiple online attendees with audio, to educate your prospects on a new topic every month or so. You could host a cybersecurity information session, or present on how to avoid becoming a victim to the latest virus to hit the digital world. You can include information about your services or offer a promotion to attendees at the end of each webinar and invite them to contact you for a limited time offer.
You can create a simple PowerPoint presentation to provide visuals for webinar attendees, and polling slides to get a better understanding of your audience. There is also the option of recording your live webinars to use on-demand in other marketing efforts later, making your time investment for each webinar more valuable to you.
Hosting a webinar is extremely inexpensive and many business owners and managers appreciate the ability to log in from wherever they are to take part in the presentation. Just keep in mind a webinar is a bit impersonal, so try to make your presentation sound as though you are talking to someone on the phone directly. You’ll get better results the better you are at sounding conversational and personable when using webinars. Allow time for people to ask questions at the end of your webinar, too.
Networking and Social Events
Join your local chamber of commerce if you are not a member already, and show up when they host networking or social events. Ask to be a speaker at upcoming events, and share security or business improvement tips with the other business owners at the events. By utilizing events hosted by other people, you start getting your company in front of new prospects and widen your networking circle.
You can also hold an open house at your own business, inviting local business owners to stop by during a certain window of time. Open houses are great for celebrating business anniversaries, to announce your move to a new office location, or can be advertised as a meet and greet for local businesses. Advertise your open house on social media, through the chamber of commerce, and if your budget allows – direct mail. At a networking-style event, you will need to get good at working your services into the conversation casually – it’s more of a conversation and less of a sale, but you’ll be surprised to find how effective it is at building relationships, establishing yourself as a trusted advisor, and growing your client list. Make sure to provide snacks and beverages along with tours of your facility, and have all of your team on hand to help in this effective networking and socializing effort.
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