So, you have an MSP. You’ve set up RMM and your PSA and created your product and product stack.
Now, all you need is customers.
MSP Marketing definition: it is the process why which you turn strangers into customers and customers into raving fans. It is a defined, structured process that mimicks dating. If you don’t follow the process, you will waste your money, so start with simplicity and build from there.
MSPs tell us that their most pressing concern is customer acquisition. It keeps a lot of MSP owners up at night, and not having a predictable sales funnel (or a predictable MSP marketing process) is the most crucial reason MSPs stay small.
Most MSP owners understand that Sales and Marketing require effort and investment. So, you may already be dedicating effort and spending thousands of dollars a month.
Based on our experience with MSPs, you are wasting your money, time, and effort. So, let’s talk about why, what you can do better, and how to get new clients without wasting time and money.
How to market your MSP
Below, I go through what MSP marketing is and isn’t, relate sales to marketing, explain the process, and explain why this strategy is effective.
It’s a lot. So, let’s delve into the strategy before going through all that.
Since sales and marketing are the same thing and follow the same process, your strategy consists of these 6 steps; developing MSP marketing strategies requires all 6.
Looking for some actions you can take now to start marketing your MSP? Check out these 5 simple, immediately implementable MSP Marketing Ideas.
This can be the most significant challenge if you are unknown, whether because you are new or simply haven’t promoted yourself.
- 250×250 strategy – this networking/referral strategy is often the fastest way to your first sale because you reach out to people you know who learn what you do.
- Dream 100 strategy – this targeted outreach to specific prospects allows you to warm up prospects with multiple touchpoints and create especially relevant custom content.
Once the prospect becomes aware, what’s next? This step is content-driven: you share content that addresses their problem, pain, and needs.
Note: you do NOT share content about what you do yet. They don’t care.
Content can be a conversation, a blog post, a report, a video, stories, or anything that talks about their problems and how they can address them.
Step 3: Agree to follow up.
“The fortune,” as the great luminary Joe Rojas says, “is in the follow-up.”
The fact is that while only up to 3% of your target market is interested in buying now, only 30% of them will never buy. That means that 67% of your sales are in the follow-up.
To follow up, you must get your prospect’s contact information and have a way to follow up.
This is not the same thing as collecting contact information in awareness: they expect you to follow up at this point.
Having a way to nurture your contacts is crucial at this stage
This is the first place to automate: MSP email marketing is crucial to your follow-up, engagement, and sales. There is a ton available on nurture in marketing, but I like this post on the importance of nurture because it’s got numbers. Numbers are always good.
Anyway, your process should go beyond email to include other touchpoints, but you can automate many of these using your CRM.
- Exchange contact information in person.
- Have them agree to another meeting.
- Have them agree to receive some information in the mail/email.
- Add them to a long-term nurture/keep-in-touch email queue.
- BAMFAM: Book a meeting from a meeting.
- Later, you will get their contact details from a form on your website.
Step 4: Show what you can do
The next step is to show them the value of your offering.
One way to do this is to have your prospect agree to a pitch or sales conversation in which you talk about their problem first, the solution second, and your offer third.
Or you find a way to give them a piece of your total package: this could be an assessment or an analysis that they would find helpful; we call this an entry point offer.
- Use the PASTA framework to design your pitch.
- Create an entry point offer by splintering a piece of your core offer and delivering it.
Step 5: Get them excited about the potential
When you demonstrate value, you want them to get it. They should see what’s in it for them and why they can’t live without what you offer.
Your demonstration of value, either your pitch or your entry point offer, should prompt them to get it, so plan this.
To do this, focus on the transformation and the opportunity. Show them what life will be like working with you.
Step 6: Close, deliver, and sell more
At this step, they sign, become your customer, and you move on to delivery.
Now, your marketing is in exceptional onboarding, stellar delivery, and regular strategic business reviews. SBRs are an essential part of your sales and marketing strategy because they are how you build on your amazing delivery to increase the services you deliver to your clients (and encourage them to give you referrals).
The MSP marketing strategy steps above are the exact steps you must put in place. However, they will waste your money, time, and effort if they (you) do not target a very specific market.
Therefore, before you start your marketing journey, get very specific about your target market and the problem you solve for that market. There is a direct relationship between your specificity and the cost of marketing (more specific –> less cost) and the price you can charge (more specific –> higher price).
This is scary and hard. We know that. Collectively, we’ve helped hundreds of businesses craft their marketing strategy, and everybody struggles with it. But it is necessary.
The problem with most MSP marketing companies, MSP marketing services, and MSP marketing agencies is that way too often, they don’t do enough to focus your marketing efforts – so they become very expensive and not very useful.
There are many ways to think about defining your target market; describing them all would make your eyes water with boredom.
So, here’s the simple way:
- Pick a vertical and identify a problem you solve for them; think first of your Killer App.
- Personify the buyer you will target within that vertical; we call this an avatar.
- Sell and market to that avatar, improving and getting more specific as you go.
Why? I’ll explain.
What MSP marketing isn’t
MSP marketing is not paying for ads to drive traffic to your website. If you are doing that now, please stop. If you have an ad going to your homepage that leads to sales, I’d love to see it; please show me. I’ll pay you $100 for a half-hour phone call if you can convince me it’s working.
What I’ve seen is generic ads going to generic websites and doing nothing other than enriching Google.
Other things MSP marketing isn’t:
- Blindly sending letters with the hope that somebody is interested.
- Spamming thousands of prospects with irrelevant emails that pretend to know the prospect.
- Strong arming random strangers on the street into doing business with you.
And marketing must not ever, no matter what, be random.
Because MSP marketing (all marketing) is your sales process automated.
See, where people go wrong is in thinking that MSP marketing is somehow different than MSP sales, but what we’ve found is the difference between MSP sales and marketing is degrees of automation. .
There is a burning desire in the collective MSP consciousness for a marketing funnel that delivers clients to your doorstep so that you can start the sales process.
But this is backward.
The key to MSP marketing is to define your sales process first. Later, you turn that into your marketing. Sales are inherently manual. Add bits and pieces of automation to help you until you eventually build the complete marketing program.
The reason for this is that MSP marketing must be crazy specific.
You’ve got to know whom you’re selling to and precisely their problem, or nobody will pay attention.
When you’re first starting, you figure this out. It’s a process of inquiry and learning so that you understand the true pain your target market has.
If you follow the prescriptive sales process, which you should because it works, then the inquiry starts with research. You identify your target market and start asking them questions without selling anything.
Side note: This isn’t lost time since people appreciate you taking the time to ask without selling. So, you keep in touch with the contacts and use this to build your 250×250 and Dream 100 lists, which are very useful sales strategies.
Based on your research, you understand the problem you solve and the words your target market uses. You use this information to create your Killer App.
As you sell, you gather feedback, learn more about your target market, and start automating your MSP marketing process until you have a genuinely prescriptive automated system.
Whether you call it sales, marketing, or both, the process is very akin to dating, especially at the SME level. (It’s dating with enterprise clients, too, but the rules are slightly different. Here, I’m focusing on most B2B sales for most MSPs, which are small and medium-sized businesses).
Eventually, you will want to implement a digital marketing funnel. Don’t start here, but if you’re ready for it you can find our MSP Digital Marketing Blueprint here.
Therefore, very well-defined patterns and ways of developing the business relationship are built into our DNA.
The DNA Aware Sales (and Marketing) process
Here are the steps you must go through, whether selling or marketing. This process is built into the strategy above; the steps map one-to-one. I put the doing part first because I thought you’d want to know what to do before why. Here’s the why.
Step 1: “Hello,” A prospect becomes aware of you.
Nobody can buy from someone if they don’t know the seller exists. If this isn’t obvious, well, I don’t know what to do about that.
Call this awareness.
Step 2: “How are you,” you start a conversation.
A conversation is how the buyer expresses interest, and the seller shows what they can do.
This conversation can continue for a long time – it involves your prospect considering your content and getting to know you. Content can mean blog posts or published papers. But it can also mean talking.
The point is that you move beyond hello and into sharing information.
Call this Engagement.
Step 3: “That’s cool,” they want to learn more.
To progress this to a sale (or purchase), the buyer must give the seller their contact information with the expectation that the seller will follow up.
Digitally, you might offer a lead magnet, but you can’t until you know what your target market wants. So, this could also be exchanging business cards or an agreement that you’ll follow up.
Call this subscription.
Step 4: “Here’s what it’s like,” the prospect gets a taste of the magic.
At this point, your prospect sees what you do and how. They know how this could apply to them.
Maybe this is your proposal or a sample of your work. In this stage, the prospect is actively involved and figuring out what they want to do.
Call this conversion.
Step 5: “Oh, I get it,” the prospect sees how their life changes by working with you.
At this point, they get it. Your prospect understands your value to them. Step 4 should lead them to get it.
Call this the Ah-ha moment.
Step 6: “I want it,” The prospect buys your complete offer.
This is where the prospect becomes a client, and your emphasis shifts from the sales process to delivery.
Your sales and marketing moves, adding value and expanding your offering. Sales don’t stop, but it becomes easier because you know you, trust you, and know you deliver outstanding results.
Your Strategic Business Reviews become your core sales process for up- and cross-selling.
Call this Ascension.
So, Sales and marketing are a process; they are the same thing with different levels of automation, and the process itself is baked into our DNA.
When I read about MSP marketing (or any marketing), I find that people make these things too complicated. There is a tendency to get stuck in the tactics, tools, and the how of it.
Here’s a tip: keep the how simple at first. Keep it manual; let it be inefficient. Use the conversations and interactions you have to improve the process.
Start by understanding the why as I’ve laid it out here, build your what as I’ve laid it out, and optimize the how over time. You can’t optimize the how if your what isn’t defined and running swimmingly.
The bad news is that there aren’t any shortcuts, and focusing on tactics without a strategy is a sure path to high blood pressure and a low bank account.
The good news is that tactics without strategy are soaking up your resources. If you focus on the principle in this post, you’ll stop losing so much money and sell more. Which is what you want anyway, right?
What is “Lead Generation,” or “Lead gen,” as the cool kids say
Lead generation is when a marketing prospect becomes someone you talk to about selling your services.
There are many mysterious practitioners with weird and wonderful ideas. Yesterday, someone on LinkedIn probably offered you yesterday10 leads for a fixed fee or no fee. BDR/SDRs promise to make calls and find leads. Content marketing, outreach, and cold calling are all lead-generation activities.
There is no mystery and no magic bullet. Lead generation is a process. If you don’t know what you are selling and to whom, you will waste all your lead generation spending. On the other hand, get clear about your business, and lead generation can be a set-it-and-forget-it activity.
What is a marketing funnel
Marketers often talk about the funnel. Some build entire businesses around marketing funnels. I wish I’d done that.
Here’s what they mean by that;
The phases of marketing, as I’ve laid out above, are:
Each stage has a conversion to the next that’s less than 100%; for example, the people who convert (or move) from awareness to Engagement might be 20%. So, 20% of the people who become aware move on to Engagement.
Each stage has a specific conversion percentage. So, it might look something like this
Awareness: 20% convert to Engagement, say 100 become aware, so 20 move to Engagement
Engagement: 80% convert to subscription, 16
Subscription: 70% convert to conversion, 8
Conversion: 50% have an ah-ha moment, 5.6
Ah-ha: 50% of those who have an ah-ha moment move to ascension, 2.8
When you plot this, it looks a bit like a funnel, hence the name.
The funnel explains WHY paying for advertising to a generic website doesn’t work. You can have a ton of awareness, but if you don’t know the next step, your prospects won’t know the next step, either.
Get the MSP Digital Marketing Blueprint here.
Useful MSP marketing terms
B2B is business to business. If you are a business selling to businesses, you are in the b2b world. If you sell to consumers, then it is b2c. In truth, though, all marketing ends up being h2h, human to human.
Call to action: CTA is where you ask your prospects to take the next step.
Conversion: when a prospect becomes a customer. We separate this from ascension because we think it is helpful to have a simple conversion offer that may be less than your complete offer.
Content marketing: this is all marketing, really. Since the beginning of time, you’ve needed content if you want to sell or market anything. Today, it primarily refers to blogs, videos, or other content that attracts prospects.
Persona/Avatar: this is the personification of your target market. It’s a fictional stereotype of your buyer.
PPC: pay-per-click, generally a money pit unless you have a marketing strategy. With a marketing strategy, it is the cheapest way to attract new traffic.
Traffic: the people who become aware of you, generally those who visit your website.
SEO: search engine optimization. You put content online, Google finds it and delivers organic traffic through search. SEO takes time, but it is a great place to start. Create content and start seeing what sticks.
Organic traffic: traffic you don’t pay for. Organic traffic takes a lot of work and is often expensive.