Ask an MSP ExpertQ: What are some MSP marketing mistakes that you see often and how can we avoid them in 2019?

In the world of MSP marketing, there are many trends and practices that quickly become popular, and it will suddenly seem like everyone is doing it — whatever it is. The danger that exists with this is that it can lead to the formation of a “pack mentality” amongst MSPs. Individual MSPs become focused on keeping up with what everyone else is doing and not falling behind, that they start to neglect their unique strengths in favor of keeping up with the pack. Soon after, these MSPs no longer focus on what made them successful to begin with, or even abandon it completely.

We spoke with Richard Delahaye, senior director of marketing at Barracuda MSP, in the second part of our recent conversation on how MSP marketing professionals should adjust and transition their marketing practices into the new year. While part one focused on “marketing musts” for MSPs, this second part addressed marketing mistakes to avoid and how MSPs can stand out in their crowded marketplace.

Common pitfalls to avoid

Be smart about where you invest. I would caution MSPs on focusing their marketing budgets purely on generating more web traffic. Sometimes getting more out of the traffic that you already have is an easier path to success.

A quick and often overlooked way to get more out of your existing web traffic, is to make sure your email, phone number, location, and contact form(s) are featured prominently – ideally on every page or at the very least one click away. This makes it as easy as possible for site visitors to take the next step and contact you if they like what they see.

Take nothing on your website for granted. If you have contact submission forms on your website, make sure they work properly! Test it in different browsers on laptops, phones and tablets. In a similar vein, try emailing and calling the phone number on your website during the workday and outside of office hours. Did anyone answer? Leave a message and ask to be called or emailed back. What happens? I guarantee you’ll find something that needs to be fixed and is currently hindering your marketing efforts.

Personalization can go awry. Personalization is a big trend in Marketing today and can improve campaign performance, but just as easily kill your credibility, if done incorrectly. For example, this morning I received an email addressed to Geraldine. Once I saw that error, I flagged the email as spam. Maybe they just had one field of incorrect data in their CRM, or maybe they made a mistake when coding their email. In any case, I will likely never hear from that company again.

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Avoid random acts of marketing. Focus on campaigns that can be repeated. Those campaigns will give you more long-term value than campaigns based around one-off ideas or gimmicks. These gimmick campaigns can be done, but as the exception rather than the norm. Instead, focus on developing campaigns that supplement your core, ongoing marketing activities.

Beware excessive PPC spend. Lastly, be careful not to waste (too much) money on PPC. It can be complicated to get the targeting right, so if you don’t have access to a PPC expert you can trust, tread carefully. Focus on using your PPC money on any branded relevant localized searches as a dip-your-toe strategy.

If you are going to try something new, make sure that it is a strategic fit and you have a way to measure its effectiveness. You have to meet your audience’s minimum expectations (have a website, Twitter account, etc.), but I advise not spending too much time on Social Media unless you can show tangible results from your efforts.

Standing out from the crowd

The MSP marketplace is a crowded one, so it is important to not only know what makes you different from your competitors, but to make sure you communicate those differentiators do your prospects.

Have a unique voice. Digital marketing is the new norm, and you will want to make sure that you don’t fall behind. The challenge is, digital marketing is so diversified these days, there is no easy path to take. That being said, don’t overlook your blog as a digital marketing asset. It provides an outlet for your MSP to showcase its personality and give existing and potential customers another way to access your expertise. Simply put, your blog can be an inexpensive tool to capture people’s attention and show your thought leadership.

Consider video. Another way to set yourself apart is with video. The methods to create and edit video are becoming progressively more affordable. Videos offer a chance to illustrate the value you bring to the table, in a small, easily digestible package. Many businesses use cartoons or illustrations, which look nice, but putting company employees in front of the camera is often a better, cheaper and more effective way to capture people’s attention, while also adding the personal touch that will help set you apart.

Relationships are key. It is important to remember that your customers are buying into a relationship, not just the solutions or services you offer. Use your marketing activities to emphasize this. The most successful MSPs build long-term relationships with their clients, who, in return, can help amplify your marketing efforts. For example, happy customers may drive new business opportunities for you via word of mouth recommendations, written testimonials, online reviews, and other forms of marketing MSPs can’t create for themselves.

While there is no one-size-fits-all plan that will guarantee your success, these suggestions should help MSP marketers give thoughtful consideration to some of the areas they may want to put more of their time, energy, and budgets into — and some items they may want to skip altogether.

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Photo: Aleks Dorohovich / Unsplash

Bill Petherbridge

Posted by Bill Petherbridge

Bill is a Content Marketing Associate at Barracuda MSP. In this position, Bill is a key contributor to the management of the SmarterMSP.com and Barracuda MSP blogs. He also serves as copyeditor for Barracuda MSP content, in addition to maintaining Barracuda MSP's social media presence.

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