ITCo asks: "How can providing IT services be cool, let alone sexy? This is a fundamental dilemma when considering marketing campaigns, when writing for the website, when contemplating a blog, etc."
This might seem like a natural concern from a company that offers "just about everything IT" from network maintenance and monitoring and 24/7 emergency support to procurement of hardware/software and even consulting work. ITCo is also getting into Green IT to help cut down on energy use and waste.
But do businesses expect their IT service providers to be cool and sexy? Is that what clients want?
Proving Your Worth
Digging deeper we learn that ITCo’s clients are small- to medium-sized businesses in the financial services, accounting, commercial real estate, health care, non-profit and retail industries. ITCo’s services are billed at an hourly rate that is lower when a contract is established. Clients consider their rates expensive and ITCo wants to shift this perception with existing clients and acquire new clients that understand the value of IT services.
To prove out ITCo’s worth, I see a few approaches that need to be considered.
It’s the Service, Stupid
Users are not getting smarter, technology is simply getting easier to use. If anything, users are getting less familiar with how technology actually works and are simply benefactors of a more seamless experience (this from someone who uploaded DOS software programs on audio cassette tapes back in the day).
As a result, IT service companies will continue to be essential, but they'll need to position themselves much differently.
While ITCo offers a laundry list of services, its strength is the high-level of hands-on client service it provides. ITCo needs to be flexible about how it structures client proposals. While tailoring them to client needs, the client should be able to take a menu approach or a contract approach with ITCo.
Small businesses will feel more comfortable initially taking a menu approach. ITCo can revisit this after a six-month relationship and show the client how much money they would have saved if the previous six months were done on contract instead of pay as you go. Contract might overwhelm a small business initially or cause concerns that they’re on the hook for more than they need or can afford.
Over time ITCo can build the relationship and the client will realize they'll get more for their money through a contract.
Belly Up to the Genius Bar
One of Apple’s in-store strong points is their ability to explain things clearly to consumers. Instead of bombarding customers with specs, it shows them that one iPod holds 10,000 songs, but for $200 more they will hold 40,000 songs.
ITCo needs to think of ways it can simply communicate the benefit of its services to its customers. ITCo can do this through some tried-and-true, high-tech PR tactics.
White Papers: Small- and medium-sized businesses would respond well to white papers that define the various business pains that ITCo can address with their services. These informative articles help the prospect through the purchase decision cycle and helps establish ITCo’s credibility and level of service.
Testimonials: The ITCo website should be flush with customer testimonials. The testimonial is not an ad. In fact it’s as much of an opportunity for the client as it is for ITCo. Testimonials need to be earned by ITCo. While initially expensive, they should consider some unique ways to generate testimonials and word of mouth simultaneously.
- Free Consultation: Target several customers that have the need for and potential to best understand ITCo services. Offer to review their current IT systems and provide six ways ITCo can help build their business. This allows ITCo to show that they can be an enabler, much more than a technician to call when something breaks.
- Pimp My Business: Clients doing a certain level of business would qualify for an annual drawing where the winner would win a free month of service. This would allow them to expand their relationship with ITCo by enjoying some additional services they aren't currently using. Of course, the winner provides a testimonial at the end of the promotion.
The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth
In a Web 2.0 world, geek is chic. ITCo shouldn't worry about appearing cool or sexy so clients might better understand ITCo. ITCo just needs to focus on explaining itself differently. All of the elements of success are there. They just needs simpler, more flexible packaging to show the value of ITCo's services.
For more on this month’s topic, visit BrandingWire. Also check out the BrandingWire team’s individual blogs: Cam Beck, Olivier Blanchard, Chris Brown, Becky Carroll, Derrick Daye, Matt Dickman, Lewis Green, Gavin Heaton, Martin Jelsema, Valeria Maltoni, Drew McLellan, Patrick Schaber, and Steve Woodruff.