I was on the phone with one of my MSP lead generation clients the other day, and we were having a long discussion about a topic that is very important to me: market research.

In my experience, I find that most people tend to bristle when you bring up market research. “I’m spending so much of my time focusing on my own business,” they tell me. “I don’t have any left to focus on somebody else’s.”

It’s a fair point, but that doesn’t make this topic any less important. It’s always critical to stop every once in a while, and see what your competitors are up to. It’s one of the major ingredients to preserving your advantage in the marketplace.

As our conversation continued, I realized that we weren’t quite having the conversation I thought we were. This client kept saying things like “I took a look at this one competitor’s website and their language was really effective, so I think I’d like to start doing that, too” or “this is how so-and-so frames their services. Do you think that would work for me?”

Which, of course, are the exact things that you shouldn’t be worrying about when conducting market research.

The truth is, especially in the world of MSP marketing, market research is every bit as much an art as it is a science. These are qualities that are okay to look at — but they’re also superficial to a certain extent. If you really want to gain insight into what is going on in an industry that is growing increasingly competitive all the time, you have to dive deeper than word choices and website structures.

Now, I’d like to show you how. 

It’s not all about your competitors

Like I said, it’s true that there is a competitor element to market research. They made their customers a promise just like you did. For the best results, you always want to make sure that YOUR promise aligns precisely with where theirs FAILS. That’s only one small side of a much larger coin.

The other side of the situation – and I would argue, the most important – involves actually taking a look at the market itself. Meaning, the people you went out of your way for to start your own business so that you could serve them.

For true market research that will bring you valuable insight that you can act on, you need to get out there and connect with members of your target audience. Reach out to them on social media sites. Find local meeting spots in your area and pay them a visit. Do whatever you can to connect with these people and put yourself in a better position to learn about their pains, problems, values and – almost as importantly – language.

To give you another example of this, one of my other MSP marketing clients was recently doing a market research interview with a prospect in their niche market – construction companies. During the course of their discussion, they realized that a lot of construction company leaders were referring to MSPs as “IT Subs” — meaning “IT Subcontractors.” It’s a fun little way to bridge the language between these two worlds, making managed services providers seem more relevant in the process.

That exact language was what this client seized on, and we immediately started using it in their marketing. Even something as simple as that – finding out what is essentially a colloquialism that people in your target audience are using – is going to make your efforts so much more effective because it’s another subtle indicator that you deeply understand these people and what they’re looking for.

It all comes back to your clients

Of course, there’s another significant bonus to all of this. If you see market research as an opportunity to learn about members of your audience, you can find out more where they spend their time and which groups they’re a part of.

ALL of these things become channels for you to focus your marketing efforts on moving forward.

If my client figured out that a lot of construction professionals in his area all went out to a weekly breakfast in the area, we’d look for ways to use that to our advantage – like by sponsoring the breakfast.

It’ll never stop being important for you to pay attention to what your competitors are up to. Competitors are great because they naturally create gaps that, once recognized, you can position yourself to fill. However, this is only half the battle when it comes to market research.

The other half drives right back to the most important thing of all: your customers, their needs, and what they’re looking for.

Improve your market research, improve your business

Market research is about more than just uncovering a “new approach” or a “unique way of doing things.” It’s also about latching onto that quality that can genuinely prove what you offer, how you offer it, and how much value you can provide to your clients.

This does more than just allow you to fill a gap in your marketplace. It lets you make a better, more organic and longer-lasting connection with the people your business depends on. 

If you still think your MSP marketing efforts need to elevate to that “next tier” but aren’t quite sure where to begin, terrific – I think I might be able to help. I encourage you to contact either myself or one of my team members at Tech Pro Marketing for your MSP marketing strategy call. This will give us a chance to get to know your business and figure out what that “next tier” looks like, together.

Photo:  Andrey_Popov / 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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