As someone who has been working with MSPs and other tech-related organizations on their marketing needs for many years, I’m always struck by the number of people who say that they’re still finding the majority of their clients “the old fashioned way” – by word of mouth.

While that may be true, it’s probably not helping them consistently find leads that they can depend on and build from moving forward.

That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with word of mouth – there isn’t. It’s always great when one satisfied client turns into two, then turns into five, and so on and so forth. But the issue is, that this still exposes your MSP to a fair amount of uncertainty due to the unpredictable nature of what you’re talking about, which of course brings a significant amount of risk right along with it.

Rather than deal with that, what you really need is a marketing engine – something that avoids making you wait for word of mouth to kick into high gear, and instead allows you to start ATTRACTING those ideal clients as soon as possible.

Building your MSP marketing engines, one cog at a time

To begin the process of setting up the type of marketing engine that is built and optimized with your MSP in mind, there are three key variables you’ll need to account for:

    1. Define your audience. Who, exactly, have you dedicated yourself to serving?
    2. Define your tactics. What, exactly, will you do to get these people’s attention?
    3. Be consistent.

Even though you’re an MSP with a broad existing user base, chances are high that you DON’T specialize in serving every type of business out there. But that’s okay – as long as you understand exactly who you’re speaking to with your marketing collateral.

The language you’d use to convey your value proposition to a doctor’s office, for example, is probably very different from how you’d speak to a construction firm or retail client. Defining your audience helps you crystalize that target in your mind, giving you a better chance of hitting it in the long-run.

Likewise, you need to know what tactics you’re going to use as they relate to the audience you’ve identified. Certain types of customers will be more receptive to specific marketing channels than others. As long as you understand this, you can use it as an advantage instead of allowing it to become a liability.

Finally, regardless of what shape your strategy takes, you need to be as consistent about it as possible. You’re not going to generate anywhere near the kind of results you’re after if “marketing” is something you only think about once a month. You need to get out there and work to make those connections every week and (if possible) every day to build the momentum you need to thrive.

Honestly, in my mind, it doesn’t have to be any more difficult than that. It’s an approach that has worked for me over the years and I know it will work for you, too. Don’t let common challenges and assumptions stand in your way.

Despite all this, I still hear about a number of common challenges and assumptions that people make – all of which I’d like to take the opportunity to address right now.

“I don’t know what lead generation tactics to use”

This is one I hear a lot, especially as it relates to point number two above.

People often ask, “Should I be doing cold calling? What about LinkedIn? My friend said he got great success from SEO. Where does email fall into all of this?”

There are no shortage of options for you to explore out there, but the one thing you have to keep in mind is the answer to the following question:

“Where did your best, existing customers originally come from?”

Whatever those channels are – the ones that have performed for you time and again – are the ones that you need to be doubling down on by way of your MSP marketing engine. Focus on what your best lead source is and rest assured, you can’t go wrong.

“I’m overwhelmed with my marketing and I don’t know where to start.”

Again, this is natural because there are many different “starting points” your own journey might take. But the key to success isn’t to over-think and over-analyze everything. You’ll only paralyze yourself and your marketing efforts.

You need to make a decision quickly and head down the path you’ve created for yourself as soon as possible. Don’t worry if it’s the wrong decision – you can always change it later. But you’ll be trapped in a permanent stasis if you never start in the first place.

After “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” the great Garry Shandling had no shortage of options for how to continue his career. In his journals from the time, he said it best when he wrote:

“Now what? Write a movie script. Act. Create another project. It doesn’t matter. You’ve made a commitment to yourself. Now be true and do it.”

“If I could just get more referrals, everything would be okay…”

To be clear – I think that referrals can be a GREAT part of a marketing engine. However, you still need to treat that as an audience, as a tactic, and you need to be consistent about it.

Don’t just sit back and wait for the referrals to happen. Say to yourself “I’m going to spend this afternoon creating a satisfaction email that goes out to our customers that asks for their feedback, and I’ll use it as an opportunity to request referrals if we get great feedback.”

You need to put a system in place and do it intentionally if you want to get more referrals. Period, end of story.

“Marketing is hard to do consistently.”

Finally, one of the biggest challenges that I hear from a lot of people is that marketing is difficult to do consistently and, as we all know, consistency is king.

Oftentimes, this leads to people giving up on certain tactics before they’ve truly had a chance to begin to see results.

The key thing to understand here is that once you have a system in place to generate the consistency you need, you can’t be looking at things on a weekly basis or even a monthly basis. You need to be judging return on investment on a YEARLY basis.

Something that a lot of people don’t realize is that when it comes to MSPs, only about 5 percent of the total market is actually IN the market at any given time because most businesses are tied up with their current service provider. They’re in a big, multi-year contract. This isn’t a situation where you’re going to be onboarding five to ten new customers a month – especially if you’re a smaller MSP. That just isn’t realistic.

If you look at things on a yearly basis, however, you get a bird’s eye view of how you’re really performing. You have the benefit of hindsight to look back and see “hey, I actually generated 20 incredible new clients last year using X, Y and Z tactics.” Most MSP owners I know would be thrilled with those types of results.

If you still have any additional questions about how to build the type of marketing engine you need to drive your MSP to success in 2020, don’t worry – we’re happy to help. At this point, I’d recommend giving either myself or one of my colleagues at Tech Pro Marketing a call to continue this discussion. We can schedule your one-on-one strategy call so that we can determine exactly what we need to help you build the marketing engine you need, when you need it the most.

Photo: nikkytok / 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 using MSP Marketing to help 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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