Zaphyr Technologies provides IT consulting and services for the small-medium business sector. But that horizontal focus made it difficult for Shawn Butt, CEO, and his team to create marketing campaigns that resonated with specific types of businesses.
“When you say ‘We’re a one-stop shop that does it all,’ it doesn’t connect with people in a certain vertical or industry,” says Butt. “We realized we had to start to define which verticals we are interested in, and which we have expertise in.”
The team embarked on a process to identify its top industry targets, and then refine their marketing strategy to immediately connect with the needs of prospects in those industries. CAMPAIGN
Butt and his team developed a new Web design and a direct mail campaign that clearly identified their target verticals. They also created content that spoke directly to the needs of those audiences.
Here are five steps they took in the process: Step #1. Identify target verticals
The team examined their current client list to find industries in which they had a large concentration of customers. Their top three industries were:
o Law enforcement
The team then asked themselves whether those three fields were indeed the best markets to target. Several factors made them comfortable focusing on those industries:
- Despite the recession, accounting and insurance were the types of services that customers always need.
- Their New York/Northern New Jersey service area supported a large number of insurance and accounting small businesses.
- Although law enforcement was a smaller market, the company started as a niche IT provider for that sector. As a result, they already had a strong customer base within the regional law enforcement market.
“We had a third, fourth, and fifth option, but we didn’t want to spread our energy,” says Butt. “We decided these were the verticals we needed to focus on.” Step #2. Redesign homepage with entry points for specific industries
The team redesigned its home page to communicate their new vertical focus to prospects. The also wanted to highlight their managed IT offering, which provides remote monitoring and management of IT infrastructure for a flat monthly rate.
The goal was to help prospects from their target industries immediately find a click path into the website.
- They added two large buttons (270 x 135 pixels) in a billboard located in center-right of the home page, which was dedicated to managed IT services. The buttons were labeled for their two target audiences.
Text on the buttons read:
o Managed IT Services for ACCOUNTING FIRMS. Click here for details.
o Managed IT Services for INSURANCE AGENCY. Click here for details.
- One button was colored gray, the other blue, to stand out from each other and from the white background.
- The team did not create a large button for law enforcement prospects, because security rules prevent police departments from using remote IT monitoring services.
Instead, they created a separate homepage for law enforcement prospects, www.policeitsupport.org. They added a link to that site in their homepage’s left navigation bar.Step #3. Tweak standard Web copy for industry targets
Despite targeting specific verticals, the core message about the company’s services was largely the same.
The team wanted to convey details about their pricing plan, technology capabilities, and the benefits of using a remote monitoring service. But they also wanted to make it seem like that message was unique to the target audience.
The solution was to write standard Web copy, but to tweak it slightly for the accounting and insurance sections of their site.
Both audiences saw copy that included:
- A focus on three benefits.
o Reduced IT spending
o Increased productivity
o Advantages of managed IT service
- References to the importance of controlling costs and having stable IT infrastructure during a recession.
- Bullet points describing key aspects of the managed service plan.
That basic copy was then tweaked for the two audiences, using techniques such as:
- Adding references to industry pain points, such as “crunch time” during the tax-filing deadline.
- Using a different layout for each section. That way, a prospect who clicks on both buttons doesn’t see exactly the same formatting and assume the team just pasted boilerplate copy. Step #4. Launch direct mail campaign to target industries
With a new website ready, the team conducted a direct mail campaign to reach prospects in their target industries.
- Working with a local printer, the identified a list of accounting firms based on criteria that included:
o ZIP code (North/central New Jersey and Manhattan)
o Number of employees
o Annual revenue
- They created a postcard that conveyed core messages about their managed IT services, such as:
o Lower IT expenses
o Predictable budget
- Cover image featured a man’s arm clutching a handful of dollars. Headline:
o “Get a Grip on Your IT Expenses”
- The call-to-action encouraged prospects to call or email the company’s sales manager to receive a free evaluation of their computing environment to determine whether managed IT could lower their costs. Step #5. Make follow-up calls to postcard recipients
After sending the postcards, the team began placing follow-up calls to recipients. The goal of the call was to conduct a free evaluation of their IT needs, and to schedule an on-site visit with a sales manager.
“It’s part of our qualification process,” says Butt. “We’re really trying to find out in all sincerity if our managed services can bring down their costs.”
- Calls were placed 3-4 days after sending the post cards.
- The calling team was prepared to discuss the major software applications and IT infrastructure used by accounting firms, as well as their typical challenges.
“When you have a focus based on insurance and accounting verticals, you know the major types of software they use,” says Butt. “When you’re broadly focused on the SMB sector, you might call up a company that produces ribbons and have no idea what their computing environment is like.”
- Prospects who didn’t qualify for managed IT services could also be directed to other services, such as pre-paid IT support.
The vertical focus of the team’s new website has caught the attention of their target audiences.
After the redesign:
o Unique visitors increased 125%
o Average time on site increased 106%
o Average page views per visit increased 153%
o Average monthly email newsletter signups increased 117%
“We see that once they click the entry points of these two buttons, visitors stay longer and navigate more pages,” says Butt. “Once we get their attention they can see that, yes, we do understand where [they] come from.”
Likewise, the targeted focus of the direct mail campaign is outperforming previous post card campaigns that weren’t aimed at specific industry verticals. Although the team is less than halfway through its mailing process, so far they’ve been able to:
o Conduct a telephone qualification assessment with 15.9% of the prospects they’ve called.
o Arrange on-site meetings with 7.9% of the prospects they’ve qualified.
“When we’re talking to them we are talking their language, and we have them on phone for slightly longer period of time,” says Butt.
Thanks to the initial success, the team plans to produce more marketing content aimed at their target verticals. They’re currently working on a white paper that describes how outsourced IT services can lower costs for accounting firms, which they’ll place on their website with a registration form to capture new leads. Useful links related to this article:
Creative Samples from Zaphyr’s vertical-focused marketing campaign