As someone who has been in the MSP marketing game for years, I’ve seen trends come and go. Recently, I was on a call with a new client, discussing the shape of his marketing strategies moving forward. I’ve always believed in the idea that as an MSP, your marketing activities should be dictated by a well thought out strategy.

When we started discussing the outreach part of his strategy – the part where we reach out to potential prospects with a “cold call” or “cold message” – the client became hesitant:

“I thought marketing was all about getting business owners who need our help to contact us, not the other way around.”

Naturally, that gave me pause. My client was right, we do want our prospects to find us when they need us the most. However, that doesn’t mean outreach doesn’t play a role in your marketing strategy.

In this article, I’m going to explain the differences between inbound and outbound lead generation, and why you need both to fill a healthy MSP sales pipeline.

Inbound vs. outbound lead generation

As the name suggests, inbound lead generation techniques are focused on bringing people into your business. As an MSP marketer, your goal will be to drive targeted traffic to your website, which should raise brand awareness, establish authority, and more.

All of this will be critical when convincing someone that only your business can solve their problems. Examples of the types of digital techniques that fall into this category include social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, and more.

How do you help convince an IT buyer that your MSP is the right fit for their long-term goals? You make sure that your site comes up time and again in their research, which things like SEO will help with enormously. How do you prove your understanding of someone’s pain points to them? Fill your site with helpful and relevant blog posts, white papers, and other collateral. Double down on content marketing whenever you can.

Outbound lead generation involves any technique where you’re starting a conversation with your potential customers. Cold calling is maybe the best example of this. When you think of outbound marketing, you should be reaching out and connecting with potential customers to introduce your offer.

It’s the intention that matters

While the techniques themselves may be different, inbound and outbound lead generation  have a lot in common, particularly when you’re talking about such a value-oriented business like an MSP. Having said that, if you summed up the major difference between the two, it would be less about what you’re doing and more about why.

Inbound is a critical part of your MSP marketing efforts when getting your message in front of leads at the exact time they need your service offerings the  most. However, the potential pool of prospects who are that deep into making a buying decision at any one time only represents a small percentage of the market.

Most of your potential customers are not in a critical need for IT services, making them difficult to reach through any inbound lead generation tactic. That’s where outbound lead generation tactics come in.

When leveraged properly, outbound gets your message to prospects who are not in the process of making a decision with their IT but may be soon. Some brands insist on playing by the “old school rules” of outbound marketing, where you largely turn things into a numbers game. “If I just send enough flyers, my revenue will go through the roof.” This is the way things used to happen. Thankfully, those days are numbered.

Even something simple, like a “warm call” to an existing prospect to check in, could be a great way to  strengthen your current relationship and find new ways to provide value.

So from that point of view, it may be helpful to think about this as something of a two-hander. Savvy MSP marketers know that the question isn’t “which will work for me – outbound or inbound lead generation?” The real question is: “How do I best design integrated lead generation campaigns that compliment and feed into one another?” 

Build your holistic marketing strategy

If this has inspired you to make changes in your own marketing strategy, I’d love to hear about them in the comments. If building a holistic marketing strategy is something you’d like help with, then I encourage you to apply for a complimentary strategy call with myself or a colleague at Tech Pro Marketing.

Photo: Romain V / Unsplash

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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