Ask an MSP ExpertQ: We recently hired a new marketing team member starting in the New Year. While we’ve done marketing for our IT service business in the past, it’s always been in fits and starts. I want to make sure our new hire is successful. What advice can we share to help them get started on the right foot?

With the new year quickly approaching, many MSP (and other) marketers are wondering which of their marketing practices should be continued into 2019 and which should be left in the past. The good news is, you’re not alone in your search for some advice on the topic. The other good news is that you’re being proactive in planning for what will happen once your new teammate comes onboard, so you’re off to a good start.

We sat down with Richard Delahaye, Senior Director of Marketing at Barracuda MSP, to get his input on how marketers should approach planning for success in the new year. Richard shared the following suggestions.

Best practices to consider

Build a strong foundation. There will always be emerging technologies, tools, and new approaches in marketing, and you may feel pressure or temptation to try them all. My advice is to evaluate each one to determine if it fits the priorities of your business before committing to it. There’s only so much time in the day, so don’t do something simply because it is new or exciting. The core marketing activities that your MSP focuses on should always be the ones that fit your target audience and bring positive, tangible results. Build a foundation where what you do is measurable, and you can tell what is working and what isn’t.

Avoid re-inventing the wheel, if you can. Early on, much of your new Marketing hire’s success will depend on looking at current or previous campaigns and identifying what is working, then making it work better. To improve results from campaigns that are already running, you’ll need to focus on testing and measurement. If you’re starting from scratch don’t worry, you can still accelerate performance of new campaigns using these techniques as well.

Focus on Optimization. Subject line testing is a proven method to measure if you can capture someone’s attention in today’s overcrowded inboxes. Most email platforms will allow you to do this fairly easily. If you have a small list, I recommend doing a 50/50 split, sending one of the subject lines you want to test to one half of the list, and the second subject line to the other half of the list. Once you’ve done this a few times and seen the results, you start to get a good idea of what types of subject lines are compelling to your audience. When you have found ‘a winner’ amongst the subject lines you have tried, use this as a guide to maximize results going forward.

Of course, similar testing approaches can be applied to direct mail campaigns by playing with how a letter or package looks before someone opens it.

Quality matters. Ever hear somebody say in Sales say they need more leads? Every Marketer has, so obviously quantity is important. However, you might get fifty replies from an email campaign, but only get one new client from the activity. Whereas you might have ten people attend a lunch and learn that you host, and five of them become customers. These simple campaign examples show that sometimes quality is more important than quantity, so pay attention to both when measuring overall campaign performance.

Keep Innovating. Once you have established your foundation and are rolling with your plans to iterate and improve, you are ready to start experimenting and really innovate. This is especially true if you’ve managed to show improvement in results to your boss from core marketing activities, as this will free up more time (and maybe money!) for new things to try.

Set expectations. When considering what new marketing activities you want to try out, start by making sure the business understands what you anticipate success will look like. Then, as your new campaigns get underway, pay close attention to what’s working and what isn’t. If things are going badly don’t be afraid to cut bait and try something else – your time and budget dollars are often your scarcest and most valuable assets!

Ultimately, your success in marketing as an MSP will be determined by your ability to find insight from and react to the feedback you receive on your marketing activities. When thoroughly examined, the data and responses generated from your marketing activities will often show the slight changes needed to achieve maximum efficiency, rather than the massive overhaul that is the first instinct of many marketers who are disappointed by results. Lastly, don’t spread yourself too thin. Your core marketing practices and principles that have carried you this far will likely continue to bring you similar success with one or two adjustments. For more on MSP marketing obstacles to avoid in 2019, keep any eye out for our post: MSP marketing pitfalls to avoid in 2019, coming soon!

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Photo:  Jirapong Manustrong / Shutterstock.

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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