MSP Marketing = Luck & timing, but not totally…

Similarly to selling other relationship-based services, the sales & marketing process for Managed Service Providers (MSPs) is a challenging and lengthy one. MSPs have typically grown steadily over many years to a comfortable level; often through organic growth by referrals and the odd inbound enquiry when someone turned to Google in a moment of need. This means that the average MSP is pretty well established in their local market – which in-turn means there’s a good chance the competition down the road are in the same boat.

How much of a target market is there left to grow your MSP locally?

With some rough back of a fag packet calculations, it’s fairly easy to identify actually how much of a local market there is left to target, (some of which will need a bit of research) –
First of all of course, there is the existing client base, ex-clients and those prospects already in your pipeline or database
There’ll be a percentage of the market that will operate their full IT operation in-house and will never change that
Those that are too small or really don’t take their technology seriously to invest in it whatsoever
The group of firms that are perhaps ‘born in the cloud’ or have reasonably techy teams that don’t have the perceived demand to outsource
Those businesses that have long-standing relationships with their incumbent MSP, and are incredibly unlikely to switch unless the ball is dropped from a considerable height(!)

Then down to the pool of targets… you’re left with those who will regularly look to switch their suppliers as contracts come to an end, (probably only on price); and those that do outsource already but don’t have any particularly strong allegiance to their current MSP, but usually won’t be in the market to switch unless given a real reason to.

Depending on your hunger for growth; you may or may not be keen on trying to compete on price to win over those that’ll regularly look to switch. But of course you’ll definitely want to “keep the feelers” out for those prospects that’ll be actively going to market through one of the two core demands for change – pain (the incumbent MSP is letting them down or holding them back) or growth (they’re outpacing or outgrowing the expertise & resource of their current MSP).

So, short of starting to buy-out your competition, you’d like to market to these guys. But, what’s the next step to take?

As we’ve identified, these businesses are likely only in the market to switch because of a couple of specific reasons. In-turn that usually means we’ve got a narrow part of the year, (or maybe every other year or two depending on their contract!), to target their interest. This means that frequent, consistent, professional promotional activity, is absolutely critical to aid in marketing any MSP business.

For years marketing pros have harked on about the “magic 7 touches” required to attract and engage prospects… but it’s actually true! This sounds expensive, and not done correctly, it can be. But, it really doesn’t have to be!

Get your brand & online presence right, establish engaging messages through your digital & print media, then continually pump this out through numerous means at well-timed intervals. Not too frequent to annoy people and give off a ‘salesy’ feel to your business, but frequent enough that you remain in the prospects mind when that important buying cycle comes round.

Outbound is not dead!

Operate your marketing through as many channels as possible – from web; across social, direct mail, email; to telemarketing. You may not necessarily ever get any clients from Twitter for example, but it’s a low-level way of keeping your web presence current & helping your business to look active and “with it” in the eyes of prospects.

There are also many in the marketing world that frequently poo-poo outbound marketing, particularly telemarketing. But let me reassure you, it really does still work! If it’s a part of a structured sequence of marketing activities, targeted to the right prospects, with the right pitch – then eventually the results will come in. Nothing beats contacting prospects by phone to engage, nurture and ultimately convert interest in a product or service.

In summary, it just takes a bit of time & luck… with the right structured effort

With the right structured, recurring marketing efforts your MSP business can stand-apart from the competition – who are probably not bothering to market themselves, or hopefully, are doing a bad job of it!

This effort combined will ensure that your MSP is kept relevant and in the minds of your prospects for the time when they’ll be in the market to switch.

If you’d like to learn a little more, get some advice or talk all things MSP marketing, please get in touch with me – Dave Sutton, 01376 538984 or ds@wearewingman.co.uk.

Thanks for reading!

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