If you are providing IT services to your customers in the form of hosted solutions, growing revenues depends on your ability to market your offering in a very focused way.  It’s just not enough to put a data center together, hang a shingle on the street and wait.  That’s a recipe for disaster and why should you fail with so much opportunity at hand.  Follow these simple steps and I promise your results will be much more predictable.

Step 1 - Know Thy Product and Value

The question most of your customers will ask is “What would I do if I didn’t use this service?”  If there is an alternate solution then customers will usually seek the lowest cost, easiest implementation.  So you must clearly articulate the value of your product and services.  As an example, if you are offering a hosted desktop (using XenApp) with Microsoft Office as the key service offering, then your customer has a choice to load the applications locally and manage them locally or use a hosting service.  A great tag line for this type of implementation might be “Lower total cost of ownership for Microsoft Office by 50% using our hosted desktop solution!”  If your value is lowering cost, state it right up front.  If your value is flexibility, then state it.  Remember that the customer always has other options so you’ll want to clearly articulate why your solution is better.

Step 2 - Know Thy Customer

Who is it that you’re selling to?  Is it the Small Office Home Office (SOHO)?  Is it the CEO of a 100 employee firm?  Is it specific to a market segment such as Finance, Legal, Manufacturing.  Messaging to the decision maker who owns a manufacturing firm with task workers is much different than messaging to a Law firm.  If the problem you are solving in a manufacturing firm is product line efficiency then you’ll want to hit hard on the “up time” of the factory floor because your service offers higher reliability than on-premise solutions.  If on the other hand you are allowing attorneys to better focus on their workloads (vs. focusing on constantly rebooting their local machines) then you should put the highlighter on higher revenues through increased billable hours.  Focus on just a few of these types of customers and then show case examples of how their business will grow as a result of using your service(s).

Step 3 - Know Thy Marketing Approach

The ability to pick the right Content, Collateral and Context will mean the difference between success and failure.  What do you want to say?  What format do you want to say it in and what is the context in which a customer will hear it?  The content should be succinct and to the point.  Don’t color your message too much or it just sounds like marketing jargon.  Put it in a form that is most easily understood.  If your customers are more likely to read a trade publication than the Wall Street Journal then call the editor and see if they will do a feature story on your services.  Don’t talk in generality if the context calls for specifics.  For instance if you are an ISV who has developed software for the insurance business, don’t talk about IT infrastructure savings.  In that case, the context demands you explicitly point out the benefits of using your specific software features to complete tasks or simplify the work.  If you have $10,000 of marketing budget make sure you’ve got the right mix of message and messaging.  In other words, if you can’t measure with certainty the return on your investment (qualified sales leads) from your marketing, DON’T DO IT!  Even awareness can be measured in terms of the Average Sales Price of your service.  If you command a higher price than your competition for similar service types, this can be a measurement of your brand. 

Step 4 - Know Thy Support Plan

If you market your product or services but don’t adequately support your customer then your brand will turn on you.  Further, your marketing content will be diminished by your reputation or lack thereof.  A perfect example of this was the Ford Motor Company “Quality is Job One” campaign run in the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s.  Wildly popular and producing great results at first, over time, the slogan began to wane in street cred as Ford’s light trucks began to flip over on the highway. While Consumer Reports was slamming Ford products (such as the Explorer) as being substandard and losing quality to Japanese manufacturers, Ford continued to run advertisements to the contrary. The savvy consumer was not only put off by the ads but began to show distain for the product every time they had to take their car in for repairs while their neighbors had no significant problems with their Japanese equivalents.  Your products/service need to be supported when launched, during use and when upgrades are needed.  Using support tools like GoToAssist will aid you.

Follow this formula, and you’ll find that customers will not only understand your value and purchase your product/services, but will also provide word of mouth advertising that is priceless in this business.