An MSP’s Guide to Masterful Marketing

 Wednesday 26 April, 2017

As an MSP you can easily manage hundreds or thousands of end points, whip up a hot new service, and solve end users’ most vexing issues from afar.

But are you just as expert in getting potential customers to notice you? In order to properly expand your business, you must also master the art of marketing. And since your background is in tech, don’t be shy about reaching out for help.

Ulistic, a marketing consultancy for MSPs, says the time is now to fully embrace marketing. “With more IT Managed Service Providers (MSPs) entering the marketplace, established MSPs are facing slowing sales and growth; some are even going out of business. This is due to the fact that many don’t market themselves effectively, or at all,” argues Ulistic. “In years past, MSPs could grow their business through word-of-mouth referrals. With an abundance of new MSPs selling services today, this is no longer the case. The competition is fierce. Today, marketing is the lifeline for MSPs.”

Who am I?

The first step is defining, or perhaps redefining who you are and what your aspirations may be. This is the essence of branding. BMW came up with a winner when it called itself The Ultimate Driving Machine, which completely fits the natureof its cars. Same with Apple and its Think Different slogan.

Figure out what is unique about your operation, or what you want to be unique. A tagline or slogan such as BMW’s or Apple’s is a great way to define your selling point. Once you know what your brand is all about, infuse your entire company with it, from stationary and email signatures, to web design and messaging – even company vehicles if you have them.

Besides a tagline, ask what other phrases, words of ideas should a customer think of when your company is mentioned, and then work your messaging around that.

Your brand may revolve around the technologies you offer, such as security, or the verticals you serve – such as education or medical.

The whole key, really, is condensing your value proposition into a simple powerful message that customers and prospects ultimately internalize.

You also need to define whether you want to build a local, regional, national, or global brand.

A trusted local technology source is positioned very differently than a worldwide provider. With a local business, a lot of your marketing is old fashioned word of mouth, client referral’s, hitting up local events such as business group meetings, and targeted local advertising.

If the plan is aggressive geographic expansion, the marketing must be equally aggressive. This in particular should pull out all the digital stops, such as content marketing, lead generation, e-mail marketing, social media, and items such as Google AdWords and pay per click.

Don’t let internet marketing scare you off. We know that this is a complex world full of myriad choices. Don’t think you need to take advantage of every opportunity that’s available, but focus on what you think will work best for your shop.

What am I capable of?

As mentioned, we know you are a master of technology. But ask yourself honestly, how much do you know about marketing? Or how much does your staff know? Do you have a dedicated marketing pro on staff or someone with enough knowledge to head up working with new marketing partners such as a digital marketing agency?

Even if you or your staff get marketing, their skills might still be best put to use on technology. That just makes economic sense.

In this case, look for outside help from marketing consultants and agencies, or perhaps hire staff that knows how to market technology solutions.

As an MSP, you can also look to your core vendors such as Pulseway. We are developing a full complement of marketing materials, collateral and other items you can put to work in your own technology market efforts. Look for more on this soon!

Other sources of help include Robin Roberts’, a marketing and sales consultancy, and Mindmatrix, which offers marketing enablement software for solution providers.

Content is your friend

In the old days marketing was all about advertising on TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. Then the web took over. More recently a new discipline has emerged – content marketing. Here a company writes objective useful helpful content to help customers and prospects. Once you have gained their trust, they’ll be ready to listen to what you have to say about your own value.

Blogs, white papers, eBooks and e-mail newsletters are key to these efforts. The main point here is to share your expertise, not your sales pitch. Make sure the articles are 100% useful, and not a shill for your services. And use SEO effectively to draw in readers.

Once you have content, optimize it further. Share the best of what you have through social media, and thank anyone who shares or links to your content by doing the same for theirs.

You also need a great web site to support these content efforts. Make sure you succinctly describe what you do, and why it is of benefit. You can also use your web site to keep prospects coming back for more. Have an e-mail newsletter that blog readers can sign up for and feed them compelling useful information. Now you have an active reader, their contact info, and the beginnings of a real relationship.

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