The magic is in the marketing. CMP research consistently shows that one characteristic of the fastest growing solution providers is that they spend far more on marketing than the average VAR. Champion Solutions Group, Boca Raton, Florida, thinks it has cracked the code on how to leverage marketing to grow its business. Here are ten winning tips from Champion marketing executives Stacy Mancinelli and David Boim.
1. Appoint a marketing director within your organization.
Ownership counts and it's the only way to make marketing work. Someone has to design, execute and measure the success of marketing efforts or they simply won't happen.
2. Do your homework.
Champion first conducted market research to identify the pains that keep CIOs up at night, and then designed a marketing strategy to ease the pain. The theme? Virtualization and data management in a compliant environment.
3. Don't be afraid to spend money.
Champion decided to hold a series of symposiums in three cities around the country, choosing high-end hotels and restaurants to hold the events and kick-off dinners. As Boim notes, "You can't get CIOs to come to a Holiday Inn for chicken."
4. Attendance counts.
But you can get them to come to a Hyatt and Morton's for steak if you put on a full-court recruitment effort. Often in the planning stage of a marketing event, too little effort is placed on the recruitment effort. Champion enlisted every employee in the company and devoted a single day to cold calling CIOs. It even tapped IBM, a sponsor of the events, to leverage its field sales reps and call centers to help recruit. The result: 150 confirmed CIO attendees in a single day.
5.Tap your vendors for money and resources.
The symposiums cost about $150,000 to put on, but Champion received MDF funds from IBM, its distribution partner Agilysys (now Arrow ECS) and other vendors to help foot the bill. Vendors love these events and are willing to pay because the smart ones know solution providers are better at pulling these things off than they are.
Next: Bring In Outside Bigshots, Follow Up, Count The Money
6. Bring in outside, marquee speakers.
CIOs won't sit through PowerPoint sales pitches from your sales people or vendors. Champion brought in an industry analyst to give a market overview on virtualization and data management. And it brought in an executive from one of its customers who had already deployed a solution.
7. Speak your customer's language.
One size doesn't fit all, even among CIOs. Champion followed up the keynoters with afternoon workshops; one track for business oriented CIOs and one for technology-oriented executives.
8. Follow up early and often.
Within 48 hours, champion sent follow-up letters and emails to everyone who attended and to those who were invited, but didn't show up. Telephone calls to the CIOs followed a week later. The point here is keep after the potential client with strategic, planned follow-ups. Script everything and keep at it.
Once you find the winning formula for your organization, repeat the methodology over and over. Champion used what it learned in virtualization and data management to craft other campaigns around storage virtualization and consolidation, server virtualization and business continuity, among others.
10. Count the money.
Its virtualization and data management symposiums resulted in $8 million worth of new business and an additional pipeline of $20 million. Plus, Champion landed close to 70 new customers.