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In a recent article, MSP lead generation failures, I talked about some of the common challenges I hear from MSPs. They want “more blogs”, “more advertising budget”, and “more more more” of things that haven’t worked well in the past, which can lead to more harm. Comments such as:

“Oh, that salesperson was terrible.”

“The vendor didn’t come through.”

Does this sound familiar? MSP will start vendor-hopping, re-hiring salespeople, and often times, ends up back at square one. While sometimes, it can be the wrong vendor or the wrong salesperson, but more likely, it is the wrong marketing or lead generation strategy. When it comes to marketing, mistakes will be made and MSPs must continue to test their marketing strategy to ‘get it right’.

What are the legacy marketing playbooks that keep MSPs stuck inside the commodity box, causing them to get nowhere with new MRR? Read on to see.

Misunderstanding the MSP buyer’s journey

Before jumping to the legacy marketing strategies, there is a presumed “MSP Buyer’s Journey” that MSPs, vendors, and internal marketers believe.

This is mistake number one – the belief that MSP buyers are still buying as they did 10 or 15 years ago. Today’s MSP buyers are not the same.

The path that buyers take towards an MSP partnership has changed. TechTarget, a media vendor who offers data-driven marketing services to business-to-business technology vendors, has an MSP Evolution Timeline that shows important improvements in the MSP industry.

For instance, remote management is basic requirement, even the one-man MSP has a PSA subscription. Cloud services are more accessible, affordable, and make more sense to the SMB than ever before. The proliferation of vendors, both direct and in the channel, and the sheer volume of MSPs has enabled SMBs to have their basic IT needs met.

Therefore, the MSP buyer’s journey in the olden days was:

  • Awareness Stage – becoming aware of “slow computers” or “frequent downtime.”
  • Consideration Stage – considering “hiring in-house IT” or “outsourcing.”
  • Decision Stage – deciding between a few local MSPs.

Meanwhile, today, MSPs are faced with the switcher’s journey (not the MSP buyer’s journey).

  • Awareness Stage – becoming aware that strategic initiatives are stuck or failing frequently.
  • Consideration Stage – considering if it’s “bad tech” or “bad process” or “bad people.”
  • Decision Stage – deciding it’s missing technology advice and deciding which MSP to switch to.

Today’s buyer is an MSP switcher, not a first time MSP buyer. They have an MSP partner with nice people, just like you. They have integrity, good values, and principles. They can speed up computers and resolve tickets. They do the “IT stuff” reasonably well.

So why do they want to switch?! Sure, they may need to upgrade infrastructure or maybe complete another migration project, but that’s not the big problem. It’s friction with strategic initiatives in other departments like Sales, Customer Service, Human Resources, Marketing, and Finance that are holding them back.

The MSP switcher has technology assets, maybe even too much of it, and they need a next level MSP to help them sort out the gap between their current state and where they want to be.

What is status quo MSP marketing?

Below are some of the most common MSP marketing strategies that worked better for the MSP buyer’s journey and not so well for today’s MSP switcher.

The “tech tips educator” strategy

Blogs, articles, infographics, and direct mail with lots of technology advice that is geared towards SMB buyers. This strategy is centered on educating buyers on the pros and cons of IT managed services, benefits of cloud services, advantages of cybersecurity and more tech tips.

The “outbound appointment-setting” strategy

Outbound prospecting via telemarketing, social media, and SMS texting, where the goal is to book appointments with qualified IT buyers and then close them in 45 days or less. This strategy is centered on finding unhappy customers of other MSPs and getting in exactly at the right time.

The “PPC bidder” strategy

Pay-per-click campaigns on Google, Bing, and social media platforms where the goal is to convert IT buyers on landing pages for eBooks or an IT Assessment. Generally, involves spending massive amounts to get ads to appear frequently and in front of the right audience. And like outbound, the expectation is a quick turnaround of 45 days to close-won.

Rethinking your marketing strategy

Please don’t misinterpret. It’s not that your existing strategy will always fail.

They can land new customers sometimes. However, they are more likely to cause stress and hair loss because it doesn’t address the MSP switcher’s concerns. To learn more about how to rethink your marketing strategy, read the new MSP Lead Generation Guide for 2023! This guide will share insights on:

  • How to convert long-term revenue growth targets into sales & marketing KPIs
  • How customers have evolved and the implications for MSP sales and marketing lead generation strategies
  • What’s required for MSP appointment setting to succeed and how to gather intel on your target market
  • How to differentiate your IT managed services firm by insourcing content creation

Photo: PopTika / Shutterstock

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Derek Marin

Posted by Derek Marin

Derek Marin is President of Simple Selling, the agency that generates predictable pipeline for MSPs. If you would rather tap dance in a minefield than add prospecting, marketing and sales team management to your to-do list, then feel free to book Derek directly from here: You can also reach him at or subscribe to the MRR Growth blog at for frequent sales tips and encouragement.

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