How do we increase sales to new customers?

The background

A small to medium-sized IT company based in Ireland.

Most of our current business comes from referrals but we are at a loss how to expand beyond this. We have sent out Paper-based Mailshots with little result (1% perhaps) and the other avenues like Advertising in Trade mags has not had much success. We recently updated our company image and while that was worth changing customers’ perceptions, we have not seen much sales increases. We used to mailshot a geographic area or a specific market but few want to take phone calls afterwards.

We are wondering what we can do to increase sales to new customers as our current customers are at the bottom of the bell curve!

Our suggestions:
Winning business is not just about one tactic. It is about a whole mix focused on the target group. We think there are several cost-effective steps you can take to increase your client base.

1. Profile – You mentioned that the company has recently changed its image which is great but it is important to adopt a persistent effort to explain this to clients and demonstrate why they should choose your company. With the new image and specific target customers you are seeking it may also be useful to approaches local groups [eg Plato, Chambers of Commerce] and seek opportunities to talk about useful IT subjects like protecting your business from hackers, phishing and other new topics. This is a softer sell and provides the chance to speak to a wider group at the same time.

2. Direct mail – This works well in Ireland and you can buy lists from companies like The Bill Moss Partnership which specialises in lists from Ireland and has a good reputation. Ideally buy a list to use several times, rather than on a one-off basis. The purpose of direct mail is to build your profile in the eyes of the target customers, so they start to understand what you do. We would recommend at least 3 letters being sent to build that profile. If your mail isn’t working, perhaps it’s the message? One way to solve this is to engage a copywriter to write great copy for you – much cheaper than advertising!

3. Advertising – Ads are great if you have a larger budget. One-offs rarely generate the results needed. Some time ago I found out that the average person sees 1 in every 3 ads and needs to see an ad 9 times to get recall. So, worse case scenario is that you have to advertise 27 times to get results. Google AdWords is another way to advertise and our clients using this have seen results. It can be difficult for an IT company because the words ‘IT’ in Google are often removed from searches so you may need to be creative in your ad creation.

4. Other issues – It’s not just about promotion and involves pricing, product offer, accessibility and much more. Maybe it’s time to conduct a marketing audit to check that the product offer meets the customers’ needs?