Last month, I trekked to Cleveland and spent a whirlwind 48 hours learning from the best and the brightest in the content marketing industry. It wasn’t quite as overwhelming as my first trip to Content Marketing World, but I still came back inspired to do even more to make our content as useful as possible for MSPs (and even picked up a cool trophy to top it all off).
I also picked up a few lessons along the way that could help managed service providers improve their marketing efforts. Here are four things you should start working on today to level up your MSP marketing.
1. Go all in
As Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi said during his speech to kick off the conference: “There’s no half way. You’re either in or you’re out.” If you want to use a content marketing approach as an MSP, you need to commit to following through on it in a meaningful way. That means producing valuable content for a targeted audience on a consistent basis that does more than promote your products and services.
Pulizzi explained that recent research done by the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs shows that only 20 percent of the marketers surveyed said they were fully committed to a content marketing approach. But that 20 percent is the most successful and best able to measure their results and return on investment.
If you think you can just post here and there on your MSP’s blog when you have time or come up with an idea, you could be doing more harm than good. “Mediocre content will hurt your brand more than doing nothing at all,” Pulizzi said.
2. Slow down and find your purpose
A key part of creating valuable content is figuring out who you are creating it for and why you’re creating it. In her session “Content Strategy: Clarity, Constraints, and Common Sense,” Kristina Halvorson explained that content marketing needs to have a purpose — but to inform or explain is not enough of a purpose.
You need to slow down and think clearly about who your customer is, what they’re really looking for, and what you can share that will truly help them. For MSPs, this means taking a deeper look at the needs of the small business owners you’re trying to reach. It’s not just about informing them about the latest ransomware threat or explaining the services you offer. It’s about teaching them how to keep their businesses and their data safe and helping them feel more secure.
3. Focus on better leads, not more leads
Many companies look at content marketing as a way to generate more leads, but in order to make those efforts pay off, you need to look at the underlying connection to sales. In the session “Leverage Content-Enabled Campaigns to Accelerate Your Marketing Growth,” Aaron Dun explained that the traditional approach to demand generation breaks down because all leads are treated the same.
Dun argued that instead of trying to generate more and more leads, marketing teams need to focus on identifying better leads. “It’s about sending over the right people at the right time,” he said. One way to get better leads is by producing engaging content that creates a conversation and then aligning that content strategically with targeted marketing campaigns.
Another important part of the process is auditing your lead funnel and looking for the weak spots. “When you attack those holes in your funnel, you send over fewer leads that have to be disqualified,” Dun said. That takes away the noise and will help make your sales team more efficient.
4. Get more complaints
Yes, this sounds like the opposite of anything a business owner would ever want to do, but hear me out. In his session “How to Use Customer Service and Community to Create Killer Content,” Jay Baer, author of Hug Your Haters, explained that if you ultimately want to get fewer complaints, you first have to get more complaints so you know what you need to fix.
Baer said marketers need to spend more time talking to real customers. Regularly encourage your customers to give you feedback and make it easier for them to provide it by increasing the touchpoints you have with your customers. This will help you uncover real questions, from real people, which can lead to great content. It will also help you hear more complaints.
According to Baer, haters are your most important customers because their complaints are not unique. He explained that out of 100 dissatisfied customers only five will complain. Think of them as the canary in the coal mine, and stop ignoring their complaints. By ignoring complaints, you’re taking a bad situation and making it worse. Baer said that when you acknowledge complaints, advocacy increases. That doesn’t mean you have to resolve every issue, but letting customers know they’ve been heard makes a big difference.
Time to take action
It took a little time to digest all the great information and advice I picked up at Content Marketing World (I took so many notes!), but I’m ready to put some of those ideas in action here at Intronis MSP Solutions. I hope these four tips share some of the energy and excitement I got from the event and inspire you to think about how you can use content effectively in your own MSP marketing efforts.