I have been in business for nearly ten years running a pretty successful IT Support Company . In those ten years I recall spending a a very small amount of money in the first few months on an advert in the local paper, very slightly more on a random leaflet drop and what, at the time, seemed to be a small fortune joining BNI.
Did any of them work?
Well, I got a few responses from the leaflet drop, I got a couple of calls from the advert in the paper but by an absolute mile BNI generated me a massive amount of business.
Fast forward about nine years and the only form of marketing that I have continued to do on a regular basis has been networking, either BNI, 4N or NRG. In that time I have also had a pretty appalling web site and as expected this generated little or no new leads. The question that I kept asking myself was this:
“If I have never actively marketed or advertised then how come I now employ six people and have a pretty profitable business?”
A little analysis and a double dip recession looming over my head forced me to investigate this further and to have a good look at what I had been doing because something must have been working. A few hours later and the results came in.
- 60% acquisitian of clients/businesses
- 20% Informal Strategic alliances and referral (web designers, contacts at networking meetings etc etc)
- 20% Friends and Family
This was amazing, but is it sustainable? To a certain extent I think it is. The acquisition element is a great way for me to grow the business quickly but they do not crop up very often. Friends and family are great but also a little ad hoc. This leaves the 20% from strategic alliances and networking. Now I obviously will continue to network as its something I love doing anyway but I am now starting to look at how to utilise the other 80% availability to generate a consistent and to a certain extent, automated, level of new leads and interest in the business.
The first part of this plan has been the re branding of the business as The Amazing Support Company and a real focus on the driving factors behind the business. The re brand has led to the new web site and domain name and all this is currently being rolled out.
To compliment this I am also starting to push as much energy that I previously put into my personal Facebook world into a more general social media strategy including Facebook, Linked in and of course Facebook. This followed on from a recent 4sight by James Millman at the Elstree and Borehamwood 4N meeting about social media.
Because the main focus of the business is local small businesses I am really interested to see how(and if) social media can work on a local level.
Social Media is not the holy grail however and all forms of marketing will need to be tested. We are looking at telesales, Email and offline marketing material as well as many other media. The results should be interesting…