An effective way of marketing for IT to get prospects and MSPs curious is to take them to lunch. Once prospects consider how being treated at a restaurant creates a positive atmosphere for discussing business, it can inspire them to do the same for their own clients or prospects. Pleasure and business do mix, especially in the IT industry.
Reasons For Scheduling Lunches
• Brings shared experience to the relationship
• Does the client or prospect a memorable favor
• Personalizes and builds brand awareness
• Opens the door to valuable feedback and suggestions
• Provides captive time in an environment you control
• Creates a sense of equality and quality concern
• Inspires them to view it as an effective marketing vehicle
Freeing the Barriers
Treating a prospect to a restaurant they enjoy is the first step in breaking down the barriers that may have come from skepticism. B2B prospects may expect the other party to prove their legitimacy and trustworthiness. Offering a free meal is seen as generous in this age of rising food prices — that affect and squeeze the economy in many ways — including how marketing for IT must be done to ensure a steady stream of business.
Earning loyalty and trust is what every business needs to be concerned with these days. Building relationships is the key to repeat sales, making it the most valuable method of generating and nurturing leads. You will free your prospect’s mind of initial questions about whether not it’s the right fit as far as character and communication style. Taking someone to lunch instantly communicates character and an invitation to be friendly and open.
The lunch setting, especially at a nice establishment with a reputation for quality, sets the landscape for an open atmosphere. It shows that you want to have a clear understanding of your potential client’s needs and that you are willing to take time out of your busy schedule to listen. Buying lunch also shows that you are willing to invest in a relationship since it is worth your time.
You can learn quickly how hot, warm or cold a lead is when you meet with the individual face-to-face. Meeting in person allows you to ask just about any question you want concerning business and getting a direct response. That’s why taking a client to lunch is an effective form of market research. The more you learn about a client, the more you can work toward satisfying their needs instead of guessing beyond the limitations of surveys and other data collection methods.
One of the best ways to build a relationship is to ask questions. A restaurant setting where the guest gets to choose their own free meal reduces tension and raises the odds of a positive discussion. It’s like sharing menus. They get the benefit of making an easy selection that brings them instant satisfaction, while you enjoy the benefit of sharing your product line with them. It’s a way to explain how you can bring value to them through your brand.
The reason taking someone to lunch creates value is that it communicates a sense of quality friendship, which can lead to long-term business. It saves the guest money that they can spend on other items. It also creates a sense that spending time with you is valuable. Marketing through lunch meetings opens up channels that might otherwise be blocked. It allows you to learn as much as possible about their business model and what they need to attract more customers.
The fact that you share product knowledge that specifically relates to increasing leads and sales makes you valuable to any business. You can explain why keeping up with technology is important to maintaining an acceptable level of credibility with a target market. One of your top selling points at a lunch should be your expertise in tech solutions that enhance businesses. Just by explaining the cost cutting effects of the cloud can help bring mutual value to the conversation.
Over lunch you can show your personal concern for their data and system security. You can remind them that data breaches are commonly caused by employee error and that you have superior solutions to guarding against costly mistakes. Protection against cyber-attacks is another attention getting topic that can serve as an instant ice-breaker. You can also remind them how important it is to back up data and to store it in multiple locations. One solution you can mention is co-location, in which a business owns a server at a different data center.
When you take a client or prospect to lunch, you increase your chances of building trust quickly. It’s a marketing of IT method for establishing and maintaining personalized relationships that confirms loyalty, trust and a willingness to work together on meeting each other’s goals.
San Diego, CA
About the Author
Michael is the CEO of Spacelink, providing IT infrastructure cloud hosting services and IT support in San Diego since 2001. Michael has over 9 years of experience in IT infrastructure and has a passion to simplify the complexities of information technology and cloud services. Spacelink exists to help companies propel their businesses with a well-reasoned IT strategy and forward-thinking technology that’s cost effective and reliable. Spacelink was recognized as a top Managed IT service provider in North America by MSP Mentor in 2016.