Not too long ago, I wrote an article about a topic that has always been near and dear to my heart — market research. If you want to make sure that your message resonates with the right audience at exactly the right time, you need to know as much about who actually makes up that audience as possible. Thus, market research becomes something that is critically important to your long-term success.

Today, I’d like to take a moment to follow-up on that and discuss what SHOULD come next, as opposed to what usually does. In my opinion, far too many organizations take the insight gleaned from that market research and apply it in the wrong area. They typically sit down and use it to create a 10-page marketing plan for the upcoming year — a document that they see as a road map that will dictate so many of their decisions over the next 12 months.

Personally, I think this is the wrong move to make, for reasons that will soon become clear. It’s also why I would not spend time writing a marketing plan at all.

Instead, I want you to focus that energy on creating a true marketing strategy — and, I’m going to show you HOW.

The trouble with marketing plans

The major issue that most people run into when it comes to marketing plans is that they take the name too literally. A marketing plan isn’t a “plan” at all; it’s a hypothesis. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s a theory about who your ideal customers are, what they care about, and what they need, based on second-hand research conducted at an arm’s length.

Not only that, but marketing plans take an incredible amount of time to write. Why would you spend so much time and effort on building something that you still need to validate later on?

Likewise, marketing plans are seldom updated and almost never read by others. Why would you put your full faith into a document that was never designed for that purpose? A marketing plan isn’t the end of the story. In many ways, it’s only the beginning — if you’re lucky and your research was thorough.

Effective marketing requires a more effective approach

At my MSP marketing agency we do things a bit differently to that end, and as a result we’ve had a tremendous amount of success . We spend a short amount of time putting together a marketing plan and spend more time on seeing how it  works in the field.

We double down on that market research and conduct extensive, intimate development interviews with every client we onboard. We then use the information from those interviews to construct a Lean Canvas for each new MSP we partner with.

The Lean Canvas is a simple-yet-important one page document that helps you deconstruct the assumptions contained in your marketing plan. In other words, it lets you get those theories up on their proverbial feet and see how they work in the real world. It also gives you a chance to meaningfully connect with your clients in a way that your marketing plan never could on its own.

The process of creating this type of document is a straightforward one — and it’s one you can easily replicate on your own. All you have to do is:

  • Start with the customer segment. Who are you targeting?
  • Go into the problem. What are the unique types of problems that the target is facing? How can your MSP help to solve them?
  • Identify your key metrics. How will you know what “success” looks like? Does it come down to how many leads you’re getting? How many people being added to your email list? Something else entirely?
  • Identify your channels. How are you going to reach this ideal customer segment? Are you going to set up a LinkedIn campaign? Or leverage Google AdWords?

The answers to questions like these are what should be fueling so much of your marketing decisions — not some 10-page document that may not actually be true to begin with. That document is a theory, and theories are meant to be tested. Talking to real customers and getting answers to questions like these are how you do it.

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There are so many “marketing professionals” out there who insist that you need to be focusing your attention on a marketing plan and conducting all this research before you even think about starting your campaign. But the fact is, that’s not totally true. Sure, creating that hypothetical plan is valuable in that it gives you a starting point. But, you cannot afford to allow things to end right there.

Instead, take the time and effort you WOULD be spending on the marketing plan and use it to validate those theories. Spend time talking to real customers and asking them real questions. Don’t let yourself live in a world of theories — you need to live in a world of action.

That’s why you need to build a genuine marketing strategy.  That’s what is going to help grow your MSP so much faster — all while allowing you to hit your market faster, too.

It’s time to get to work

Building your strategy and validating it takes hard work. But the sooner you do it, the sooner you’ll be generating new leads and landing new customers for your MSP.

If you’re looking for help building the strategy you need to grow your MSP, there’s a chance I might be able to help. Schedule a call with Tech Pro Marketing to see if we’re a good fit to help you craft the powerful marketing strategy you need to fuel all of your efforts into next quarter, next year, and beyond.

Photo: Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock

Nate Freedman

Posted by Nate Freedman

You don't want marketing help from just anyone — you want it from someone that doesn't just know MSPs, but someone that is focused exclusively on helping MSPs generate leads. Nate Freedman is the CEO of Tech Pro Marketing, where they deliver predictable, quality leads to Managed Service Providers with their proven MSP Lead Generation Engine™.

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