When I started Master Computing back in November of 1997, things were much simpler. For example, we were truly just a computer repair shop. Something broke, you called us, we fixed it. That was long before the days of managed services where the focus shifted from reactive computer repairs to preventive maintenance. At that time it was common to work with small businesses who still used a dial-up modem on each computer and computer networks were sometimes seen as a luxury more than a need.
The IT industry was truly in its infancy. In fact, I don't think I had even heard the term IT. Technology was still a novelty, not a way of life like it is today. I was also in my infancy, at least as far as business knowledge goes. I was trying to run my business part-time while going to college as a Computer Science major. That didn't work. But I was young (and therefore knew everything), and I must have been convinced that higher education was for the weak, so I dropped out of college to put all of my efforts into my growing business. Looking back, I would definitely do things differently.
But there I was, young and starry-eyed with no real business knowledge or experience, and the proud owner of a growing computer business. Life could not have been better.
Now to my point. Marketing. Maybe because I was in a relatively new and exciting industry, maybe just because I was just lucky, but marketing seemed easy back then. I would draft up a letter to local businesses, buy a list, and blast off a few hundred pieces of direct mail to my fellow business owners. Or I would put together a newsletter and mail it out. I ran ads on the radio, in the newspaper, the yellow pages, and even hung flyers on the bulletin boards at grocery stores (anyone remember those?). Every single one of those marketing efforts would bring near instant results. It just worked.
Today is much different. Maybe because my industry has matured and become more saturated. Maybe because interruption marketing is much less tolerated. Whatever the reason, things have changed. Where I used to be able to send out a few hundred poorly-written letters and be almost guaranteed an instant new client out of the deal, I can now send a thousand pieces of well thought out direct mail and see absolutely zero results. At least not immediately. And that is the key.
I'm not necessarily advocating direct mail. But I am saying that the days of instant marketing-gratification seem to be behind us. As technology has taken over our lives, our media consumption has gone through the roof. We spend more time consuming information now than ever before. It won't all stick. It can't. Our brains are simply amazing, and one of the primary purposes of the brain is to filter out irrelevant information. Your customers filter out almost all of your marketing because it simply isn't relevant at that moment.
This is where Touching Appropriately comes in. Take this blog post as an example. Let's be honest: I don't write because my fingers need the exercise. I'm trying to get your attention. It's a marketing touch. Also, I can't imagine anyone will read this post and come running to my door with credit card in hand. Marketing touches are cumulative. Any one touch will likely have no obvious, or even measurable, impact on moving your customers through the sales funnel. You need a LOT of touching in order to build awareness and trust. And you need a lot of awareness and trust before anyone will write you a check.
So how much touching is appropriate? I've heard it said that it takes 7 marketing touches before someone will buy. More recently I read an article that claims it is now at least 12 touches. As our media consumption continues to climb and our brain's filter becomes better at removing the noise, the number (and quality) of marketing touches will only need to increase. I won't try to put a number on it, but I will end with a few suggestions:
- Know the lifetime value of a customer so you know how much you can afford to spend to get that customer through your door.
- Develop marketing systems so that your marketing touches work like a machine. The less of your time and direct intervention required, the better.
- Use multiple types of media: direct mail, phone calls, email, SEO, PPC, social media, etc. We all prefer to consume information differently.
- Select a very targeted audience that is small enough for you to dominate. Don't try to be all things to all people.
- Finally, never give up! Learn what works best in your industry, and go after it with a vengeance!
As your marketing takes hold and your business grows beyond your wildest expectations, feel free to prove me wrong and do, in fact, come running to my door with credit card in hand. We can help you build a rock-solid strategy for your technology, and keeping all of those trade secrets safe and secure.