What is MSP Marketing?

MSP marketing is the activities and strategy that managed services providers user to inform, educate and raise awareness about their business for potential customers. As business partners that are quickly becoming necessities for many businesses, MSPs offer everything from general IT services to cloud support, backup and recovery, as well cybersecurity and infrastructure and they need marketing to differentiate themselves and grow in an increasingly competitive market. In fact, the market value of MSPs is expected to reach $311.3 billion by 2027. Here’s what you need to know to build out an effective MSP marketing strategy.

Why Do MSPs Need a Marketing Strategy?

Like other businesses, MSPs need a marketing strategy to help enhance their brand exposure and gain visibility from prospective audiences. Rather than a sales strategy, marketing strategies help to educate your potential customer base regarding your services and the value of your offerings. Ultimately, you want to generate high-value leads so that you can continue to grow your business and solidify a stable stream of revenue.

What is the Difference Between MSP Sales and MSP Marketing?

MSP sales initiatives differ from MSP marketing in terms of goals. Sales strategies target revenue and determine success by the existence of a contract and the exchange of money. In contrast, MSP marketing strategies don’t directly focus on revenue generation, but rather brand awareness and education. MSP marketing strategies seek to inform potential audiences about your business value so that you can convert potential prospects into existing customers. The end goal is to become the provider of choice when companies seek out a managed services provider.

Why Do You Need MSP Marketing?

Marketing helps to engage prospects and generate inbound leads for your MSP. As you boost your brand recognition, potential clients will view you as a competitor in the MSP market. If you plan to grow your business to offer a variety of services or bring in more revenue, you’ll want to use multiple marketing techniques to help with lead generation.

Marketing your MSP also helps with retention by ensuring customer satisfaction, building trust and nurturing relationships with loyal clients.

What is in an MSP Marketing Plan?

An MSP marketing plan is the actual strategic document that outlines your marketing goals and the actionable steps you plan to take to achieve your marketing strategy. Follow these steps to develop your MSP marketing plan.

  1. Perform a marketing audit. What elements do you already have to help your marketing succeed? What elements are you missing? Do you have a logo, brand standards or other marketing materials? Define which marketing assets you already have, and which are still needed.
  2. Create customer personas. Who is your ideal customer? What are their job roles and pain points? Which social platforms are they using? What do they care about in their day-to-day lives? Outline these details to know who your marketing team should be targeting.
  3. Perform a competitive analysis. Who are your primary competitors? Examine their revenue, product information, and marketing tactics. What lessons can you take away from these competitors? How can you set yourself apart?
  4. Develop your value proposition. Your value propositions should include a headline, key differentiators, benefits of your offerings, and a call to action. Work to build out these items as definitively as possible so you understand your value and know how you differ from other providers.
  5. Outline your marketing goals. How do you plan to get your prospects through the marketing funnel? You want them to begin with awareness of your MSP company, moving to interest and consideration, and finally taking action to engage with your business. Define which tactics and channels you intend to use to engage your prospects and identify the steps you’ll take to see those goals through to completion.
  6. Identify your marketing budget. How much do you have to spend on marketing activities? How will you allocate your budget? Are you able to invest in any marketing automation tools?
  7. Select your marketing tactics. Which channels will you use to deliver your campaigns? How will you allocate your budget and efforts across your content, including email marketing, social media marketing, paid search and web content? Do you need the support of a dedicated marketing agency or MSP marketing services?
  8. Execute your plan. Launch your well-developed marketing campaigns to bring in new business.
  9. Measure the outcomes and adjust for future. It’s important to know what is working and what needs modifying. Make sure you are monitoring which channels are most effective for your marketing strategy and try new campaigns to reach your audience.

MSP Marketing Phrases You Should Know

Similar to other professions, marketing is chock full of its own vernacular. It can be a bit tough to discern what you need to know in the beginning, but it will quickly become second nature. Here is a brief list of marketing terms MSPs should know:

  • B2B: This acronym stands for business-to-business and refers to the general marketing category that MSPs operate in as a business services offering to other companies.
  • Call to action: Commonly referred to as CTA, a call to action is what you want your visitors to do next. You provide prospects with a desired action and try to entice them to that that next step. This could be something such as, Get Started with Your Free Trial or Download the Starter Kit Today.
  • Conversion: The act that occurs when a visitor performs your desired action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a demo.
  • Content marketing: This is a marketing tactic that involves sharing digital content in the form of blogs, videos or social content that isn’t sales oriented, but seeks to educate new customers about their business problem or challenge and how your offering could help solve it.
  • Evergreen: This is a reference to content that has relevancy regardless of trend or time frame. This might include content such as templates or testimonials that won’t be impacted by current events. For example, people have regularly searched for content pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years, but that is likely to change in the coming years. Think of evergreen as the opposite of trending.
  • Lead nurturing: Nurturing your leads involves building relationships over a period of time via marketing messages and other communications.
  • Landing page: An online marketing tool that acts as a standalone destination and is dedicated to a unique marketing campaign. Its purpose is to convert visitors into new leads.
  • Lead: A lead is someone who has expressed interest in your business or solution but hasn’t taken steps to engage with your company. Ideally, leads will eventually enter the sales process to help them become a new customer.
  • Marketing funnel: Describes a typical journey for potential customers and involves the following four stages:
    • Awareness
    • Interest
    • Desire
    • Action
  • Organic traffic: Most of your marketing goals will revolve around conversion and that typically begins with generating website traffic. In some cases, you will pay for pay-per-click (PPC, see below) ads or landing pages to get those leads. In other cases, you will put out educational content and the nature of that will organically drive people to your site. That is known as organic traffic.
  • Personas: Fictional representations of your ideal customers which include individual attributes such as job role, demographics, industry, business needs and other details relevant to your offering. Personas are useful for designing your marketing campaigns toward your target audience.
  • PPC: Short for pay-per-click. This refers to advertising options, such as Adwords, where companies pay a certain amount every time an ad is clicked.
  • Qualified lead: This phrase applies to potential customers who have willingly and freely provided you with information about themselves and/or their business.
  • SEO: An acronym for search engine optimization. SEO refers to the strategies you employ in your content in order to augment your online presence and be found by search engine algorithms. If you want your content to pop up when people search for Managed services providers in Chicago, you have to target your content accordingly.
  • Value proposition: A statement that clearly describes your offerings for customers and explains why you are preferred over your competitors.

MSP Email Marketing

One of the channels you should be regularly using to reach prospects is email marketing. Email marketing involves the use of email campaigns to help you stay in touch with prospects, existing clients and helps to support your marketing efforts from a customer’s inbox. You should develop emails to reach your targeted audience that also align with your overall marketing strategy.

Call-to-Action (CTA)

Your call to action is important because it is what prompts your prospects to actually do something. When you see a landing page that has a button at the bottom to Register for the Webinar, that’s a call to action. Every campaign you launch, whether paid or organic, needs to have a call to action so that your prospect now knows what to do to find more information. Adjust your CTA to fit the goal of each campaign.

Here are some examples of common CTAs for MSPs.

  • Register for demo
  • Get started
  • Follow us
  • Contact us
  • Sign up for webinar
  • Get the ebook
  • Read the article
  • Learn more
  • Complete the signup form
  • Watch the video
  • Subscribe here
  • Read the blog
  • Find out more
  • Try it
  • Complete the survey

MSP Inbound Marketing

MSP inbound marketing involves activities that lead to a prospect reaching out to you to learn more. When it comes to marketing on the internet, most activities involve inbound marketing because channels such as websites and social media make it easy for prospects to seek out your MSP.

MSP Outbound Marketing

MSP outbound marketing involves activities where you do the outreach in hopes of getting interest in your offerings. This might involve cold calling, reaching out to people on social media with information about your MSP or emailing general audiences in hopes of reaching new customers.

Lead Generation

Lead generation is often the primary goal of your MSP marketing strategy. Generating leads involves developing marketing activities to create a pipeline of customers for your sales team that are potentially interested in your offerings. Successful lead generation might involve tactics such as using LinkedIn to reach prospects, employing a good SEO strategy, providing exclusive or premier content to subscribers and segmenting your email audiences with targeted content.

Landing Page

Landing pages are useful tools for understanding who is engaging with particular types of content. They can also be beneficial for helping to convert prospects because landing pages don’t get caught in the overall messaging and design of your MSP’s website. Your website has to be a comprehensive destination or information, whereas a landing page can be specific messaging for a single product or targeted toward a specific group of people, such as executive leadership.

How to Correctly Implement Cohesive MSP Marketing

Companies who are new to marketing often begin with a haphazard approach that doesn’t connect tasks to outcomes. If you truly want a cohesive marketing strategy as an IT service provider, you need to align your efforts and be able to tie them to your goals.

Identify what you want to accomplish with your marketing strategy in measurable terms. For example, you could choose to boost website traffic by 5% and seek to provide at least 15 demos per month to interested parties. Whatever those goals, make sure that your marketing campaigns can be tied directly to those outcomes. To boost web traffic, you may want to implement a better SEO strategy. To raise demos, you might target different email lists of audiences that you feel would be interested in those opportunities.

What You Need to Know about MSP Marketing Scope

Your MSP should evaluate and determine your marketing scope prior to launching your campaigns. Your marketing scope determines which type of IT support services your MSP will be offering. Knowing this in advance will help you clearly identify your audience and succinctly develop your marketing campaigns. Examine your offerings to ensure you can market them cohesively and with confidence.

What MSP Marketing is Not

Here are a few things that MSP marketing is not.

  • MSP marketing is not a sales strategy. You want to avoid being pushy and assuming that marketing will replace your sales cycle.
  • MSP marketing is also not advertising. While you may engage in advertising to boost your brand recognition, advertising is tactical whereas marketing is strategic and brings together multiple forms of communication.
  • MSP marketing is not customer success. Once you’ve landed a sale, you want to ensure client success and satisfaction, but that is not the purpose of MSP marketing.
  • MSP marketing does not involve referrals. Referrals should be processed through your sales team.

How MSP Marketing is Different from Marketing in Other Industries

There’s no single formula for successful marketing because it differs across industries. As an MSP business, you’ll be utilizing B2B marketing strategies because you are trying to attract businesses to your offerings, rather than individual customers. In contrast to B2C (business-to-customer) marketing, B2B marketing involves more relationship building, illustrating ROI and solving business problems over quick solutions.

As an IT company and managed provider, you’ll want to take the time to build out your business benefits and determine how you can show evidence of significant ROI. You also need to look at your personas and identify who makes decisions and how you can appeal your offerings to those individuals. Remember these key tips when marketing your MSP.

Want to learn more? Visit the CompTIA Managed Services resource hub for more information including research, toolkits and playbooks.

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