As an MSP, it’s challenging enough just to manage SMBs’ systems and keep up with the day-to-day customer demands, never mind trying to build a sales and marketing program for your business. But, with good marketing comes growth, both for your business and your team.
Whether you’re an MSP just getting started and looking for some basic MSP marketing activities to focus on or a larger MSP with an entire marketing team, we’ve got some tips for you. We sat down with Richard Delahaye, Senior Director of Marketing here at Intronis MSP Solutions by Barracuda to get his thoughts on how you can get the most out of your marketing efforts — big or small.
Work with Sales
First and foremost, whether you have a single person doing marketing as part of their job or a multi-person marketing team, it’s vital to make sure marketing and sales are working in tandem. Marketing gets a boost when sales does well, but when sales does poorly, marketing should be in the foxhole with them.
That’s why it’s important for sales and marketing teams to meet regularly in order to be aligned on strategy and goals. Make sure your marketing reflects your current goals from a sales perspective. For example, if your business is rolling out a new service or offering a revised pricing package or discount, sales and marketing should be aligned on what the messaging around it is; how, when, and where it is being promoted; and what the correct follow-up action is from a sales perspective.
“Marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum, so for it to be successful, you need a solid business plan and a sales team that’s acting on the leads you’re sending over,” says Richard.
Set goals and make them SMART:
To help make your marketing most effective, MSPs need set SMART goals:
Specific – No one likes generalizations, so why make generalized goals? If a goal is specific enough, your team will be more likely to accomplish it. Avoid general language like ‘raise awareness’ but instead aim for quantitative goals whenever possible, such as “bring back 20 sales leads from this event.”
Measurable – Whether you break down the goal into smaller specific goals or just set a few key milestones, it’s important to track your team’s progress. Measuring progress is a good reminder for everyone to stay on track. It also creates a sense of urgency and a sense of achievement when milestones are met.
Achievable – Goals don’t have to be out-of-the-ball-park to be effective. Just like in baseball, sometimes getting on first base is a success. Goals you set for your team should be attainable within a reasonable timeframe. Think about some marketing goals you’d want your team to achieve. Does it sound overwhelming? If so, your team might think it’s out of range. You want them to be inspired, not intimidated.
Relevant – Ensuring your marketing goals are relevant can be broken down into two parts: people and process. When assigning a marketing goal to a person, make sure the results are at least somewhat in their control, otherwise the goal is irrelevant. Meanwhile on the process side, make sure you have a good ‘fit’ between the method and the goal. For example putting an ad in a magazine is unlikely to generate direct response.
Timely – Don’t leave marketing goals up in the air. Set a deadline! If the results are due by a particular date, you can declare success or failure as opposed to just waiting and hoping for good things to happen down the line.
Focus on ROI:
In order to know that your efforts are producing results, Richard recommends focusing on Return on Investment (ROI). You should expect to see results overnight, but start tracking the appropriate metrics so you can see how different marketing tactics perform for you over time.
If you’re a smaller MSP, though, this might be harder to measure, but you can still be SMART about your goals. Make a list of what you’d like to track and measure, also known as KPIs (known performance indicators). Think about what is important, what you would like to accomplish and in what timeframe, but just remember to be SMART!
No time? Utilize outsourced marketing support
Sometimes lack of time and resources might be the problem, but just remember that marketing doesn’t have to be perfect in order for it to be effective. Getting something done quickly gives you the ability to move down your project list a faster rather than agonizing over every last detail. The caveat is that you can make unnecessary mistakes if you move too quickly – so be efficient but not sloppy!
Richard also suggests that another way to ramp up your efforts is to utilize external marketing resources, such as the ones Intronis provides via its Partner Toolkit. There are also plenty of consultants and subject matter experts that you can tap for their expertise and services as well. For example, Stuart Crawford is an MSP Marketing guru (and a judge for the MSP Marketing Masters Awards). His company Ulistic provides MSPs marketing support.