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6 Simple ways your MSP Marketing Can Grab Attention

There are three fundamentals to Effective MSP marketing.First, you define your avatar (and not be agnostic). Second, you must understand that all anybody ever sells is transformation and therefore have your transformation offer clearly defined. And finally, there is communicating that transformation in a way that grabs the attention of your avatar.

This post focuses on grabbing attention and how you can stand out in a sea of noise to get people to listen long enough for you to explain your offer.

The problem most MSPs face is talking about what they do, getting into the nitty gritty, and even explaining how their technology works. They flood their communication with jargon nobody can understand in a bid to demonstrate capability and knowledge, but all they end up doing is confusing people.

A confused mind never buys. It lashes out in search of something it can grab onto. See, grabbing your prospect’s attention really means providing something that your avatar’s brain can connect with, understand, and be interested in.

There’s only one problem: the thinking part of the brain isn’t the part that grabs. Thinking is work, it’s hard, and the brain is evolutionarily programmed to avoid that hard work.

So before working on anything, the brain employs a gatekeeper: a part of the brain so old evolutionarily that is is like the brain of a reptile. It is a gatekeeper because it engages the thinking part of the brain, but only when something is interesting.

And what the reptilian brain finds interesting is emotion, self-preservation, and the endless pursuit of shiny things.

Your challenge is to appeal to that reptilian brain.

The good news: it isn’t hard; it just takes some practice. The most challenging part is learning to talk like your customer rather than talk like an MSP. So we’ve identified six simple ways to appeal to the reptilian brain and make your MSP marketing more effective:

  1. Make it about the person you are selling to.
  2. Use contrast.
  3. Use tangible concepts.
  4. Focus on the beginning and the end.
  5. Be visual.
  6. Get emotional.

We go through this in more detail below.

Understanding the biology of the reptilian brain gatekeeper

The oldest part of our brain is a knot of cells that process all the information that comes in and managing all the automatic stuff that happens in the body. It makes sure your heart beats.

It has one job: to keep you alive. It is that part of the brain that all animals have and it is as old as reptiles, hence the reptilian brain.

The problem is that our thinking, innovation and reasoning happens in the new part of the brain cleverly named the neo(new)cortex. And using the neocortex is work. It is very good at coming up with new stuff and solving problems, but it is work.

When something new happens, say your prospect sees your advertisement, website or proposal the reptilian brain considers the relevance of that new thing. It asks, whether the new thing is emotionally engaging, crucial to self-preservation or a cool shiny thing that it would like to learn more about.

Think of it this way:

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Effective MSP marketing, communications, and presentations connect with the reptilian brain first, then the neocortex.

The challenge in MSP marketing is that you create your ideas with the neocortex, but your audience listens as if they were reptiles.

It is as if you were communicating with a 4K television signal, and they are receiving cave drawings.

Your solution, your technology, your way of working, your jargon all of that is a 4K television signal. It may be amazing and you may be able to deliver it better than anybody else in the world. But until you’ve grabbed their attention they won’t listen.

So your MSP marketing must be the equivalent of cave drawings. Once your prospect is interested and engaging their neocortex, then you can show them your 4k signal.

How MSP marketing speaks to the reptilian brain

We have found six ways to appeal to the reptilian brain, and we go through them here.

Remember, the reptilian brain is very self-centered – it exists to keep you alive. It is also tied directly to the senses. So there are some simple things we can do to entice the senses and woo the reptilian brain.

Number 1: Make your MSP marketing about your prosepects

Check out this advertisement from Coke (note that I find myself in the odd position of sharing lots of commercials from Coke and Pepsi, I am not promoting these companies… but if you think about it, they are selling boring, unhealthy products, so they MUST create good ads.)

They don’t talk much about Coke here. Instead, they celebrate all of the “tailgaters” of the country. Whoever you are, you can see yourself reflected in one of these characters.

This coke ad is about you.

Something else important happens here:

The people in the commercial talk to you the person watching. This puts the viewer front and center.

This means in your MSP marketing, from proposals to websites you should use that second person “you,” talk to your audience, make sure they know it is about them.

This mistake we see is MSPs talking in passive voice about “things that must be done,” or “could be done,” for somebody to get results. Instead say: “do this,” or “you should do this,” so that “you get results.” That immediately puts your prospects front and center.

How MSPs make marketing about their prospects

First, identify your avatar. This is crucial.

Then talk about their problems and how you solve those problems. Make it about them, the pain they feel today and the opportunity for them in the future.

And talk about them: use second person, use their names, do everything you can to talk to them about their problems.

Number 2: Use contrast in your MSP marketing

The reptilian brain gets contrast: before and after, big and small, anything that doesn’t quite fit is appealing. Some examples of this are the HSBC ads from a few years ago. They have contrast on contrast and stand out beautifully – it is hard not to see or connect with these ads.


Another example of this is this news advertisement; the contrast is right there in the eye. It isn’t even immediately apparent what the contrast means, but the difference combined with the eye looking directly at you is striking and draws you in to read the advertisement itself:

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How MSPs could use contrast in their marketing

Show before and after pictures of

  • Chaotic hardware versus organized hardware.
  • Frustrated user versus happy user.
  • Old, outdated computers versus sleek new ones.
  • Decreasing earnings chart versus increasing earnings chart.
  • Show a contrast between something tumultuous and variable compared to something calm and organized.

What can you come up with?

Number 3: Use Tangible Concepts

Our oldest brain is not smart; that is the way it evolved. Thinking comes later. So you want to make your sales and marketing communication, your copy, and every aspect of how you communicate very tangible.

For example, this advertisement for Mr. Clean drives home the point immediately:


You don’t have to spend much time thinking about what they are communicating here. It helps that Mr. Clean is very well known – the moment you see the bright white stripe with the iconic character, you know at an instinctual level what they are communicating.

Here is an MSP Example:

This is a screen capture of N-Able’s website. They effectively show how the guy in the background does more by adding arms. You SEE him getting more work done.

How MSPs can use tangibility in their marketing

  • Show someone stealing something for cyber-security.
  • Show an obviously bad guy typing into a computer (trying to break in)
  • Tell stories about actual events and actual solutions, and use details and names.

How can you use tangibility in your marketing?

Number 4: Focus On The Beginning And End

The reptilian brain has amazing fast data processing capability. But it does not think. It engages at the beginning and end of interaction but tunes out in the middle. So keep this in mind with every interaction: engage by having a great beginning and a great ending.

George Lucas even identified this as a key to good filmmaking. In his words: “the secret to a good movie is a hot opening, a hot close and … just don’t screw up the middle.


Here is the best news about the beginning and end concept: you do have a second chance to make a first impression. End well. If you meet someone and things aren’t going well, all you have to do is end with something that lands – they will likely forget the rest.

How MSPs can focus on the beginning and the end

  • Tell stories using the Situation – Action – Result framework in case studies. Describe the situation in detail and in a way that connects with your prospects. Then end well, talking about transformative results.
  • Talk about transformation – how your clients change as a result of working with you.

How else can you use strong beginnings and strong endings to engage your prospects?

Number 5: Be Visual

The optic nerve ties directly into the reptilian brain and is 40-50 times faster than the auditory sense. So the most direct way into the brain is through visual communication. You can see here on this page how powerful visual communications are. Be more visual.

A great example of this is the global antismoking campaign. Check out this warning on packs of cigarettes:

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And compare to these ads:

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I doubt the warning ever gave anybody pause. These other two make a point. The difference is visualization.

Number 6: Get Emotional

When you are presenting, engaging, or selling to people, don’t lead with the facts. Lead with something more interesting, more emotionally engaging.

Think of the Mac and PC ads from a decade ago. The PC character is always struggling, and the Mac character is always cool and collected. They are both likable, but you definitely want to be more like the Mac than the PC.

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Watch a couple here and note how they appeal to the human side of things. They talk about computers and functionality but only in terms of what it delivers to the end user. And despite being computer commercials, they don’t dwell on any computing facts at all; they make a human connection.

So next time you are presenting, pitching, or marketing, remember to make it about them, remember to engage that reptilian brain

The way to do this is to:

  • Make it about the audience
  • Use Contrast
  • Use tangible concepts
  • Focus on the beginning and the end
  • Be visual
  • Get emotional

Stop talking before you bore your audience – like a card trick magician, always leave them wanting more, and be ready for questions.

Because if you engage your audience and your prospects well, they will want to talk to you for more information. They will want your solution.

If you do, they will be interested, and you will stand apart

Appealing to the emotional side of your market and backing that up with facts is a powerful way to sell and market your services. People will want to know more; they will want to buy from you. The conversations will shift from the hard work of figuring out how to be relevant to the more rewarding task of solving real problems.

And since so few marketers do this, you will stand apart as the person or company, or team with the answers that people want to hear. Prospects will be more interested in doing business with you, and it will be easier to generate word-of-mouth referrals because people remember you, and you will have more loyal customers because they will connect with you.

The best part: you will be happy to have a few job seekers in the crowd because you will need the help.

Ready for a marketing strategy that drives traffic, interest, and… well… sales?

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