Often, this involves creating and deploying messages to help MSPs get leads, which is called lead generation. Sometimes, it involves helping MSPs upgrade the way they’re perceived in the marketplace, which is called branding. Both of these activities help present MSPs to their markets of prospective clients.
That’s the high-level. If you’re interested in MSP marketing, though, you’re probably interested the specifics, too.
We can help. At New North, we’ve helped MSPs to grow, break into new markets, and successfully get acquired for the past 10 years. Based on that experience, we’ll break things down further with answers to some of the most common questions around MSP marketing.
Let’s dive in.
What MSP marketing is not
First, let’s clear up a common misconception: MSP marketing is not MSP sales.
Again, marketing is the process of creating interest in a market for a product or service. In practical terms, this involves everything up to the point of personal contact from sales – ads, branding materials, website, email content, ebooks, etc. – but not the personal contact itself.
Marketing materials should build trust and bring potential clients to the point of being ready to buy, but sales will still be needed to close deals. Sales is about personal relationships.
Many MSPs (and many businesses in general) confuse the functions of marketing and sales, which leads to confused investments – hiring a marketing department when you really need a salesperson, or hiring another sales role when what you really need is better marketing.
There are two key reasons you might need MSP marketing:
- You need MSP marketing if most potential clients in your market don’t know who you are.
- You need MSP marketing if potential clients don’t know what value you offer.
If most clients in your market do know who you are and do know the value you provide but you still aren’t driving leads, then MSP marketing probably isn’t the answer. Sales or stronger value might be.
What an MSP marketing plan usually involves
When you think of marketing your MSP, this is the place your mind probably goes: tactics. Here’s what we often include in MSP marketing plans:
Website optimization. Your website should clearly communicate the value your MSP provides and should play a role in driving top-of-funnel traffic. We’ve written about best practices for lead-driving MSP websites here.
Paid ads. Search ads (the kind that appear at the top of Google results) for MSPs are typically expensive. Many MSPs pay for them anyway, because they work. LinkedIn and YouTube ads can also be effective when targeted toward the right audiences. And we’re fans of remarketing, too – showing ads to visitors who have already hit your website.
Search engine optimization (SEO). You should rank on the first page of Google in your service area for your specific services (like “business continuity”, “remote workforce setup” or “cloud migration”) and for general “IT” searches (like “IT support,” “IT consultant,” and “managed IT service”).
Email marketing. This is a great tactic for nurture and engagement campaigns; build your email list via your website, then provide value and build relationships with subscribers over time until they’re ready to buy.
Video marketing. Tech tips, testimonials, tech news – video marketing is typically used to build credibility and establish the expertise of your team.
These tactics should be used cohesively as part of an MSP marketing strategy. We’ve found that account-based marketing (where you target specific ideal accounts) and inbound marketing (where you create content to draw people into a buying relationship with you) are particularly effective in lead generation for MSPs. Both strategies would use the tactics listed here.
How MSP marketing is different from marketing in other industries
There are several ways that MSP marketing is unique.
First, MSP marketing is B2B marketing, which means that it must account for buying groups (as opposed to individuals) and, potentially, longer sales cycles. You’ll probably have multiple buyer personas – a CEO and an IT Director, and potentially others, depending on the industry and the size of the organizations you’re selling to.
Second, MSP marketing is geared toward a crowded marketplace. There’s been explosive growth in the MSP industry for the past five or so years, and that’s made it harder to stand out. Your marketing must account for that – and find a way to stand out anyway. That means your brand should be well-developed, and personalized touches – like pictures of your team rather than stock photos – that differentiate you are important.
Third, MSP marketing is most effective when another IT company gets things wrong. The discomfiting reality of the crowded market means that there is no shortage of IT companies – but there is a shortage of IT companies that are good fits for certain clients. Here’s what this means for your marketing: Unless you’re specifically focused on the startup space, you will rarely find a new lead that has no experience with previous IT companies.
Instead, most leads will start searching as they grow discontented with a poor-fit solution. You want to be top-of-mind to potential ideal clients so that when a provider lets them down, you’re there to pick them up. This makes awareness and nurture campaigns particularly important for MSPs.
All of these intricacies make it particularly important that you work with a company that understands the MSP market.
We can help take your MSP marketing to the next level.
Again, we’ve helped MSPs like yours to grow, conquer new markets, and get acquired. If you’d like a free review of your current MSP marketing efforts – and a path forward – let’s talk.
Either way, here’s to your success as you use MSP marketing to build your business.