Why worry about MSP marketing budgeting and planning?
Well, things are changing fast in the IT channel. The industry itself is in a constant state of flux. Mergers and acquisitions abound, and giant competitors like Amazon are entering the MSP space. So, it’s never been more important to effectively attract and retain customers.
And while the thought of creating a marketing plan and budget can feel daunting, it really isn’t as complicated as it seems.
Defining your MSP marketing budget
Do you have a defined marketing budget? And by defined, I mean a specific number you’ve set aside, either on an annual or monthly basis, that will go toward marketing. Like a 401k, this money is routinely invested and dedicated solely to marketing activities.
Many companies don’t. Instead, they throw money at random marketing initiatives sporadically, and then wonder why they aren’t getting the results they want — kind of like hitting the gym once a month and expecting to look like a bodybuilder. Unfortunately, that approach just doesn’t work if you want real results.
What should you be spending?
According to the U.S. Small Business Association, if you’re a company that makes less than $5 million a year, you should dedicate somewhere between 7 and 8 percent of your total revenue to marketing.
Now, there are plenty of companies that spend more or less than that. Companies that are just in “maintenance mode” may only spend 2 to 4 precent on marketing, while companies in heavy-growth mode may spend 10 to 20 percent, especially startups with investor funding or retail businesses.
Where to start?
Conducting a marketing spend audit is a great place to start. Where did you spend money in 2016? What did it go toward? What results did you get? What percentage of top line revenue was your spend?
Analyzing this data will help you establish a baseline, and from there you can decide what you’re comfortable with moving forward. Once you’ve decided on your budget, you’re ready to move to step two.
Creating your MSP marketing plan
Do you have a marketing plan? It can be as simple as a spreadsheet with different tactics outlined or some bullets on a piece of paper.
Many people are intimidated by creating marketing plans, but I’m going to show you how this can be accomplished in five simple steps.
1. Gather all the historical data you can collect
You want to measure all your marketing activities with as much detail as possible. That includes web, email, social stats, events, referrals, and most importantly, where your leads came from. As you look through this data, you’re trying to identify what worked and what didn’t.
Next, analyze your sales funnel. Is it too fat on top? Too skinny on the bottom? Are you losing people after the initial call? After presenting a proposal? Where are prospects falling out of your funnel, and most importantly, WHY are they falling out?
Side tip: If you can identify where and why they’re falling out of your funnel, you’ll have some excellent fuel for content marketing. Create some blog posts, videos, or infographics around those specific topics.
2. Set some simple, measurable marketing goals
A couple of examples might be to generate five new leads each month from organic web searches, to double your email list, or to increase your upsell percentage after the initial sale.
Whatever your marketing goals, they should be tied directly to your overall sales goals for the company. So, if you’re part of a larger company, you’ll want your sales and marketing teams to work together on this.
3. Create a strategy or strategies to achieve each goal
Hopefully you have some historical data that will show you what has worked, but keep in mind that a good marketing plan has a mixture of strategies and tactics.
So, one way to tackle this is to create a marketing “wish list” so to speak, and then analyze each item on the list to see where it would fit into your strategy.
Make sure you understand these questions for each item on your list:
- Why do you want to do it?
- How does it relate to your goals?
- How will you measure it?
4. Prioritize your strategies with your budget in mind
Start with the highest priorities and work your way down the list. Based on your budget, you might not be able to fit everything from your strategy wish list into your plan at first, and that’s okay.
Remember, you want to have a good mix. Just like you wouldn’t put all your investments into one stock, you don’t want to put all our marketing eggs in one basket. And again, it’s really important to measure everything!
5. Organize Your Plan
There are many ways to tackle this, but one of the easiest approaches is to use a calendar. Looking at your priorities, determine with what frequency you need to complete each activity.
For example, you may want to plan a general website tune-up one or two times a year. If you’ve had success with in-person events, you may want to schedule those once a quarter.
You can start with the year, and break it all the way down to the day if you’d like. This is an excellent starting point because you can essentially contain a pretty thorough marketing plan outline in one spreadsheet.
These are some simple steps for creating a simple yet effective marketing budget and plan. Want to learn more? Watch a webinar that will dive deeper into these ideas, show examples, and also discuss key branding and messaging.