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msp_marketing_habitsMarketing can be a real Achilles’ heel for IT service providers. You can have the tech side of the business down cold and provide outstanding customer service, but if you aren’t bringing in new business it’s going to create problems down the road.

There are a few reasons marketing is such a weak spot for MSPs. It’s a skill set that outside of most service providers’ comfort zones, and many of them are simply too busy to give MSP marketing the attention it deserves. This combination leads to a number bad habits that MSPs need to correct before they can start enjoying the true benefits of MSP marketing. Be honest; are you guilty of any of these bad marketing habits?

1. Doing half-hearted social media marketing

Social media is an important part of any MSP marketing strategy these days. Unfortunately, many service providers aren’t sure what to do or how to use it effectively, so they end up doing the bare minimum, which doesn’t do anyone any good.

One common misstep is setting up a Facebook page or Twitter account for the company and then never updating it or only posting once in a while. Social media is about conversations and community, and you won’t be able to build those connections if you’re not actively involved. Plus, many potential customers check social media when researching a company, so you want to make sure your social presence makes a good impression.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by social media, but if you make smart choices about which social networks you focus on and what tools you use to manage it, you’ll be able to use this type of marketing more effectively.

2. Creating a lazy website

How much thought did you put into your MSP website? If you threw together a website for you MSP just to get it out of the way, then you’re short-changing yourself and your business. Your website is often the first impression a potential customer will get of your business, and if the site is confusing or hard to navigate, you could end up losing customers before they even get started.

With a little extra effort, you can put your website to work capturing new leads for you instead. Start by looking at your site and evaluating the messaging and design. Is it easy for people to find the information they’re looking for? Do you have a clear call to action and a way to turn visitors into leads? Once you address those issues, you can focus on improving your site’s SEO so more customers will be able to find you.

3. Focusing on just one marketing strategy

It’s easy to get in a marketing rut. You find something that works for your MSP, whether it’s email marketing or PPC advertising or telemarketing, and you stick with it. Diversifying your marketing efforts is important, though. Just because one approach is working well now doesn’t mean it always will. So if you focus too much on one approach, you could be stuck scrambling down the road.

Instead, MSPs should use a mix of marketing tactics in order to have a balanced marketing strategy. This will allow you to try a few different approaches to see what works best. And, if market conditions change and one tactic becomes less effective, you’ll be ready to adjust easily.

4. Not getting a plan down on paper

Another common mistake MSP marketers make is trying to make up their marketing strategy as they go. It’s critical to start things off right by taking the time to think things through, make a plan, and get it down on paper. Your MSP marketing plan should be flexible so you can adjust as needed, but getting a formal plan put together will help keep you on track. It will also help you hold yourself and your team accountable throughout the year. Are you getting to everything you had planned? Are you reaching your marketing goals? Plus, a marketing plan will help ensure that everyone is on the same page about what needs to be done and what the priorities are.

5. Giving up too soon

It can take time to see results from your marketing efforts, and it’s easy to get discouraged. Many MSPs end up giving up on marketing too quickly, hastily deciding that it doesn’t work or isn’t worth the effort. Establishing the KPIs you’ll be measuring upfront is an important part of determining what’s working and what’s not. You also need to be patient. Stick with a marketing tactic long enough to measure it properly and see what the results really are over time instead of making a snap judgement. For example, you shouldn’t give up on email marketing after your first email doesn’t perform well. Test different subject lines or different calls to action and see if you can find something that works better.

6. Ignoring marketing completely

This bad habit happens all too often, and it’s a trap that’s easy for MSPs to fall into. You’re busy running your business and have a bunch of other things to take care of. Or maybe you feel like you’re getting plenty of referrals and don’t need to worry about marketing now. It’s well worth making the effort, though, and there are a number of vendor programs you can take advantage of to make it easier. Just ask the MSP marketers who are doing it right.

To help MSPs figure out what they’re doing right—and wrong—when it comes to marketing, we surveyed more than 150 IT service providers about their marketing habits. We’ve compiled the results into our newest e-book, 11 Habits of Highly Effective MSP Marketers: A Field Guide to Marketing in the IT Channel. Download your copy today to learn how your marketing stacks up.

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Anne Campbell

Posted by Anne Campbell

Anne Campbell is the public relations manager for Barracuda. She's been with the organization since 2014, working on content and public relations for Barracuda MSP, the MSP-dedicated business unit of Barracuda. She started her career in newspaper and magazine journalism, and she brings that editorial point of view the work she does, using it to help craft compelling stories.

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