You’ve heard the phrase: “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” What if your marketing efforts qualify as your weakest link? Most managed service providers (MSP) have technical or business backgrounds—not marketing. And many are caught between a proverbial rock and hard place, meaning they understand the importance of consistent marketing, but don’t have the time, resources or budget to make it happen.
But just because marketing sits outside of your comfort zone doesn’t mean you should push it to the sidelines. Here are four reasons why you should up your marketing game for your MSP.
Marketing sets the stage for increased brand awareness and sales enablement.
Marketing and sales go hand-in-hand. A comprehensive marketing plan is tied to your sales cycle and touches everyone from prospects to customers. Mark Sokol, vice president of marketing at Liongard, says that you can implement a variety of marketing tactics, but unless you have someone closing business it’s not going to work. His advice? Start small and get your sales team involved.
“Get involved in local B2B networking events—and put on an event of your own,” Sokol said. “Now you have a list of people who are interested and you can expand your efforts.”
Raffi Jamgotchian, founder and CTO at Triada Networks, agrees. “In security, we use levels of maturity. We can think of marketing in the same way,” he said.
For example, if you are just starting out, there are some baseline marketing activities you should engage in—like creating a website and setting up a referral process. Once you master those, you can take your marketing plan to the next level.
Social marketing has changed the game, and technology businesses need to keep up.
These days, the next level is all digital. Hannah O’Donnell, director of sales at Collabrance, says the golden age of managed services is right now.
“Last month, the Collabrance team had the opportunity to listen to Robert Herjavec, speak at Empower by N-able’s virtual event. Herjavec says that now is the best time in history to be an MSP. Online access is doubling every three months and IT is seeing more growth than ever. It’s what’s being called the 'post-pandemic' boom,” O’Donnell said.
If your prospects are online, that’s where you should be too. Think about what your social media presence looks like and how you can elevate it. Can you create videos that speak directly to your audience? Can you host virtual events and lunch-and-learns on remote meeting platforms that will provide value and increase your pipeline?
“People’s attitudes are changing,” Sokol said. “People used to think they had to be in the office to sell that small business customer, but that’s not necessarily the case anymore. The conversation is changing and so is relationship selling. It’s okay to hop on a Zoom nowadays. If you think of it from a timing and profitability standpoint, it’s just more effective.”
Sign up for our free MSP Marketing Quick Start Series for access to step-by-step tips and resources to get you started with a marketing plan, including downloadable templates and exclusive videos.
Customers are doing their homework.
This shift in thinking means that more and more customers are doing their homework online before they ever reach out to a salesperson. Your marketing initiatives will help them learn more your business before you even talk to them. And many of those customers are starting with Google.
“According to Nucleus Research, marketing automation drives a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead,” O’Donnell said. “So, if 68% of B2B customers prefer to research independently online, then why aren’t all MSPs providing the information prospects are seeking?”
She says the solution is to provide FAQs and more content online to your target audience.
The content that prospects want and would give their contact information for is more than an infographic. It’s a deep dive into a specific business technology issue or trend and can take the format of a checklist, case study, whitepaper, research report or buyers’ guide.
Marketing is the best way to differentiate yourself in the market.
This combination of long-form, deep-dive content, short videos and an elevated social profile is how you set yourself apart in a crowded technology marketplace.
Marcus Sheridan shares that: “Buyers are already 70% down the sales process by the time you know they exist.” O’Donnell encourages MSPs to take this into consideration as you educate and answer your prospect’s questions upfront and online.
As technology commoditizes and matures, more and more players will find their niche. You can create yours by finding your value proposition and using it to create a marketing plan that speaks to your ideal customers.
“It all comes down to time, focus and attention,” Sokol said. “You have to commit to it. Just do something. Whatever it is—do something. If we’re not doing anything, there’s just silence.”
Jamgotchian agrees. “Organic growth can be slow,” he said. “But marketing is important to stay on the radar.”
Elevate Your Marketing Game with CompTIA
CompTIA knows that time, resources and budget are big issues for MSPs when it comes to creating and executing a marketing plan. That’s why we've developed the Marketing Toolkit for MSPs—a members-only resource with 90+ pages of content and more than 15 completed examples and customizable templates. Developed by CompTIA Education, this step-by-step guide shows solution/service providers how to leverage marketing to compete and grow their business. Become a CompTIA Corporate member and download the full Marketing Toolkit for MSPs.
Not a CompTIA member yet? Opt-in to MSP Marketing Quick Start Series to gain access to series of emails and videos that show you exactly how to carry out a variety of marketing strategies and tactics.