How to Expand an IT Business in Pittsburgh

IT Business

When people need help with their computers and technology, are you the first IT company they call?

As an IT business in Pittsburgh, you have two primary competitors: other IT businesses, and your potential customers’ belief that they can do the work themselves instead of hiring you.

Today, I’m going to give you some strategies for standing out in your industry, getting your potential clients’ attention, and showing them why it’s in their best interests to hire you.

It starts with knowing who your clients are and what they want.

If you had an eye infection, which would you look up: medicine, or eye medication?

Chances are, you’d look up the cure that was more specific to your problem. This is important, because your potential clients will usually do the same.

If you’re an individual looking for services for an event or project you’re working on, you probably don’t want to pay business-sized prices. But if you’re a business that needs a powerful solution for a complex system or multiple users, you don’t want a small package designed for an individual.

When you define who your ideal client is, it gives you four powerful advantages:

  1. It helps motivated buyers who are looking for a specific type of service to find you.

For example, if they’re looking for “IT services for schools”, and you state on your website and directory profiles that you serve schools, then you have a better chance of appearing near the top of their search results than a company that doesn’t specify schools as one of their areas of expertise.

  1. It gives people a reason to choose you over your competition.

If a business is looking at two IT business services websites, and they’re similar except for the fact that one of them provides business-specific services, which one will that company choose? Chances are, they’ll choose the one that specifies that it serves businesses. When customers see that you specifically serve people like them, it helps them believe that you understand their challenges and needs, and that you have solutions that are tailored to their requirements.

  1. It helps you to become an expert, and get paid like an expert.

To continue the earlier example, let’s say the eye infection got bad enough that you decided to visit a doctor. Who would you trust more, and who would you be willing to pay more: a general practitioner, or an optometrist? The answer is probably the optometrist. You know that they specialize in the area in which you need help, so they’re more likely to be able to solve your problem, and their greater expertise justifies a higher price. When you specialize in a specific type of client, you can become an expert in the needs of that demographic. As a result, they can explain their projects to you more easily, you can offer better advice, and your services will be more precisely tailored to that demographic’s needs. The quality of your service will increase, and your rates can be raised accordingly.

  1. It improves the effectiveness of your marketing.

The more you understand your client, the more precisely you can talk about their challenges, needs and desires in your marketing materials. When your clients read or watch your materials, they should immediately think, “That’s me – I have that exact problem, I want that result, and this is exactly the solution I need!” When you try to target everyone at once, your services will be a partial match for many people, but a perfect match for few or none. People are more attracted to a perfect match, and they’re willing to pay more for it.

How can your IT business attract your ideal clients?

Now that you know who your ideal clients are and what they want from you, it’s time to get their attention and encourage them to hire you.

There are three particularly effective marketing strategies that I recommend:

Marketing Strategy #1: Educational marketing

Educational marketing is a great way for IT companies to get the attention of people who are still in do-it-myself mode, before they even begin to look at your competition.

In educational marketing, you give your clients valuable information on a topic in which they’re interested, then tell them how they can get better results by working with you.

This accomplishes several things:

  1. It gets their attention before they even begin to shop around for IT services. If they’re looking up “how to X” or “best software to use for Y”, you can show up in their search results by answering their question or offering the information they’re seeking.
  2. It makes them grateful for the valuable help and information you gave them.
  3. It proves your expertise by showing that you know how to implement the solutions they need.
  4. It gives you a chance to educate them about why it’s better to hire you than to do it themselves. Their project might require special equipment or a level of expertise that they don’t possess.
  5. It lets you tell them about your services in a way that’s welcome and wanted, so they’ll be paying attention instead of waiting for the “skip this ad” button to show up.

Your educational materials could include items like articles in ezines, blog posts, videos, emails, and social media posts, and cover topics such as:

  1. Instructions for completing tasks that your clients need to perform for their projects, events or system setup, and an explanation of why hiring you is easier, more cost-effective, and more conducive for getting their desired results than doing it themselves.
  2. A comparison of different hardware or software systems they may be considering.
  3. Lists of systems, hardware items, or software services they need for specific projects they may be working on, like a webinar product launch or a fundraiser.
  4. Answers to questions your ideal clients frequently ask.

In each of your materials, choose a title that matches or includes a phrase that your target audience is likely to type into a search engine, and be sure to include phrases they might search for in the body of your article, post of video description.

Marketing Strategy #2: Reviews

Online reviews are one of the top three most trusted sources of information about products and services, and they’re part of the algorithm search engines use to determine which businesses their users want to see at the top of the search results. The more good reviews you have, the better your website and citation site directory profiles will rank, and the more people will trust you and want to hire you. Even if your clients are busy, there are surprisingly simple ways to get positive online reviews and prevent negative reviews, so it’s well worth implementing these practices in your business.

Marketing Strategy #3: Referrals

While the previous two methods are important steps in the customers’ journey from being strangers to becoming loyal repeat clients who refer people to you, they aren’t the whole journey.

It often takes five to eight contacts, sometimes more, before a client will know, like and trust you enough to spend money on you. Even then, they might want to try one of your smaller packages before making a large investment.

But when someone the potential client trusts refers that person to you, it fast-forwards them through most of the process. By receiving a referral, you inherit the “know, like and trust” that the referrer has already built up, and you can often go straight to making a large sale.

Your best sources of referrals will be satisfied customers, and businesses whose services complement your own.

Here’s how to get each of those demographics to promote you:

How to get IT Business referrals from businesses:

First, make a list of businesses in your area that serve the same ideal client as you, in ways that complement you.

For example, you could form referral partnerships with software providers with whom you work, hardware stores who which you often refer people, audiovisual companies that work with the type of business you serve, or copywriters and graphic designers who help with product launches that require your expertise.

Then, approach those businesses and offer them a mutually beneficial referral partnership. You refer clients to them in exchange for a commission on the sales they make to those clients, and they refer clients to you in exchange for a commission.

Be sure to provide them with scripts, email copy, landing pages or social media posts they can use to make referrals. Not everyone can describe your services as well as you can, and if you ask them to take the time to figure out how to talk about your business, you increase the odds that they never will.

Give them clear instructions on which steps you want the people they send you to take, such as visiting your website, filling out a form, or calling you, and make sure that they understand exactly what you do and who you do it for.

How to get IT Business referrals from satisfied customers:

Once you’ve confirmed that a client is satisfied with your service, ask them if they know anyone else who needs the kind of help you gave them, and if they’d be willing to help you help those people by making an introduction.

As with seeking referrals from businesses, when you encourage your clients to send people to you, it’s important to:

  1. Make sure they understand exactly who you serve and how.
  2. Provide pre-made materials they can use to make referrals.
  3. Give them clear instructions on what first step the people they refer to you should take.

You can also reward clients who make referrals by paying them commissions, giving them discounts on future or recurring purchases, or making them look good by giving the people they refer to you a discount.

Want to get more referral partners, hot leads, and long-term clients?

For a long time, I too ran my business without connections to other business owners, relying on cold calls to reach out to new customers.

Then I made what I’ve often joked is the last cold call I ever made: I went to my first BNI meeting. There, I discovered the power of referral partners – a power I’ve since come to rely on.

In the process of building numerous referral relationships, I’ve found that it doesn’t even matter what the other business owner is selling. As long as their clients are in the same demographic as yours, they can send those clients to you, and you can send people to them.

Remember, it isn’t just getting referrals that helps you grow your business. There are benefits to GIVING referrals, too.

The more experts in different professions you know, the more you’ll become the go-to person when people need to know who to turn to. This means you’ll meet more potential clients, make more referrals, and create more goodwill between you and your referral partners.

Any trusted professional can become a steady source of referrals for you, if you’re willing to work with their system.

And if you are supportive and make referrals to them, the law of reciprocity – the law of social psychology that makes people eager to do good things for those who do good things for them – will make people want to send more referrals to you.

If you’re ready to give and receive more referrals, make more money, and see the law of reciprocity in action, I encourage you to join us for our next BNI meeting Click here to find a BNI chapter to visit.

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

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