Recently, I was having a coffee with a fellow MSP marketer who built (and sold) his own MSP business. He didn’t build his business alone. He had a partner, who handled the technical side of the equation, while he managed the marketing and sales aspects.
Over the course of our discussion, one thing he mentioned is that sometimes MSP business owners rush into the world of inbound marketing before they’re ready. Of course, everyone wants a steady stream of new leads coming right to their door. They want that from the moment the business is founded in the first place.
But does that mean that the time is ALWAYS right for inbound marketing? Not necessarily.
The ins (and outs) of inbound marketing
At its core, inbound marketing is exactly what it sounds like — it is all of those techniques that you’re leveraging to not only raise brand awareness, but to get people legitimately excited about the idea of working with you. The eBook that you wrote is a classic example of inbound marketing in action. Having an active newsletter or blog that people are reading and enjoying would fall under that umbrella, too.
Inbound marketing is all about getting people excited to the point where, by the time they contact you, they’ve already made the decision in their mind that yours is the business they want to go with.
At the same time, inbound marketing isn’t easy — which is the major problem many people run into. It takes an incredible amount of time and countless resources, but you won’t see returns right away.
If your MSP is smaller — one that has yet to cross that $5 million in revenue threshold — inbound marketing is NOT always the right solution. It’s certainly not the best way to spend your increasingly precious time.
The alternative: outbound marketing
Thankfully, you still have several options available to you for your marketing efforts. The most important might be outbound marketing.
The key difference between inbound and outbound marketing is instead of building up a following and getting people to contact you (as is the case with inbound), what you’re doing instead is putting yourself out there as an expert to reach out and connect with the people who make up your potential audience.
The great thing about outbound marketing is that it doesn’t require a lot of financial resources, if you approach things the right way. You don’t have hire a copywriter to fill your blog with a steady stream of new content. Instead, you can get on social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter five days a week. Pay attention to the questions that people on those platforms are asking, and answer them. Add value to the conversations that are already going on all around you.
It’s the modern, “virtual” version of knocking on doors, going to networking events, and introducing yourself. Now, you generate the same results without leaving your chair.
To make outbound marketing work, you need to research the best prospects in your area. At that point, you can contact them for an introduction. That’s what outbound marketing is at its most basic level and it truly doesn’t get more straightforward than that.
Yes, there’s certainly something to be said for inbound marketing, but that may not be the right move for you to make at this time. Outbound marketing doesn’t just work — it works incredibly well, if you’re willing to put in the time and effort.
What I’ve found in the past (and this has been backed up by the MSP business owner I was referencing earlier) is that at a certain point in a business, you DO reach the end of your outbound cycle. You’ve contacted essentially every business in your area and you’ve hit a point of diminishing returns.
THAT is the point where you can ramp up your inbound efforts, but not before. At that time, you will have used outbound to grow your MSP to the point where you have enough revenue and can make the significant investment that inbound marketing will require. If you try to skip directly to that point just because you think that’s what you’re supposed to do, you’ll only do yourself AND your business a disservice.
A matter of perspective
All of this is to say that the answer to the question “is your MSP truly ready for inbound marketing?” is a resounding, “It depends.”
That probably isn’t even the right approach to take to the question. Instead, you should ask yourself, “what is the right type of marketing for my MSP at this particular time?”
If you can answer that question, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish moving forward.
If this article inspired you, or if you’re looking for a little help answering that question I just posed above, we might be able to help. I encourage you to reach out and apply for a strategy call with myself or a team member at Tech Pro Marketing. It’ll give us a chance to learn more about one another so that we can make sure we’re a good fit and answer that question together.
Photo: T-Mizuguchi / Shutterstock