If you ask me, marketing is incredibly subjective. I don’t think there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to go about it. What works well for your MSP will depend on a countless number of variables like location, branding, budget, price-point, and probably a little bit of luck. Because I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all marketing approach, I want to shy away from writing an article like “5 Marketing Tactics Every MSP Needs to Use”, or “The Marketing Strategy That Will Grow Your MSP 2x in 2021”. What works for one MSP might flop for another. In other words, there is no “magic bullet”. If there was, believe me, I’d be the first to tell you about it!
All this said I do believe that there are some strategic missteps many MSPs tend to make when developing and executing their marketing plan. So while I can’t tell you exactly what marketing campaigns will take your MSP to the next level, avoiding these 5 mistakes may help get you there faster.
Putting All Your Eggs in One Basket
I find that a lot of organizations think marketing is as simple as turning on one or two campaigns (often Google Ads) and watching the leads roll in. While a simple strategy like this may work for the occasional lucky marketer, it’s not a scalable solution that I would recommend betting on long-term. Much like a financial portfolio, your marketing strategy needs to be diversified. Would you bet your retirement on one or two high-risk investments? Of course not. While there’s a small chance you could end up rich, it’s much more likely that you’ll end up broke.
This same methodology applies to marketing. You need to diversify your marketing strategy by spreading your efforts among many different marketing channels (paid search, sponsored content, gated content, SEO, video, etc.) so you can find what works for you and your audience. Like your portfolio, a diversified marketing strategy leads to results that are more consistent and scalable.
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Ignoring Brand Awareness
Brand awareness campaigns can be difficult to justify. This is because, by nature, a brand awareness campaign’s goal is just that: awareness. Awareness is not the same as action, so an awareness campaign is unlikely to drive a direct ROI on its own. If it’s not generating an ROI, then why run it at all? Because it can greatly improve the performance of the campaigns that do drive an ROI.
Let’s say your MSP is running a brand awareness campaign in a popular golf magazine. Maybe you run a six-month campaign and the publication is printed bi-weekly, so the average reader sees your ad 12 times. A campaign like this is unlikely to drive immediate results (when’s the last time you bought something from a magazine ad?), so it may appear to have been a massive waste of money. But here’s where things get interesting.
Let’s continue our hypothetical scenario and focus on Jane Doe, a managing partner at a local law firm that happens to read this golf magazine religiously. Jane saw our ad multiple times over the past few months, but she was happy with their MSP at the time, so she didn’t feel compelled to take any action. Three months later, though, their MSP gets acquired and the level of service plummets. She frantically turns to Google to research the best MSPs in her area and sees an ad for your MSP. She recognizes the logo from her favorite magazine, clicks the ad, and fills out a form. This is why brand awareness is valuable.
Would Jane have clicked that Google ad if she hadn’t seen the ad in the golf magazine? It’s impossible to say, but the odds would certainly have been less. This is why brand awareness campaigns are essential to the effectiveness of your overall marketing strategy. If no one has heard of you or seen your logo before, the chances of them engaging with the action-driving campaigns like email and paid search are far less.
FOMO (“fear of missing out”) can be a powerful force in the marketing world. You see a competitor running a new campaign and your first instinct is to say, “we need to do that too!”. This, in my opinion, is a very dangerous approach to marketing.
First, this approach assumes that your competitors have it all figured out. I’m here to tell you, they probably don’t. Just because they’re running a campaign doesn’t mean it’s generating an ROI, and it definitely doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea. Without knowing whose idea it was, why they decided to run with it, and what the results are, how can you possibly say whether or not your MSP should emulate it? Don’t assume your competitors are striking gold with everything they do. Like any other organization, they will have campaigns that fall flat too.
Copying competitors also distracts from what’s really important: your MSP. Like I said earlier, a campaign’s success relies on an incredible number of variables. Just because something works for one MSP doesn’t mean it will work for yours. Stay focused on your MSP’s strategy and don’t get distracted by what your competitors are doing. Not only may you be emulating a campaign that isn’t even working for them, but you’re also hindering your ability to stand out as a brand. Instead, focus your energy on finding those niche marketing opportunities that your competitors haven’t discovered yet.
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Not Tracking Results & ROI
As the world of marketing technology grows, so does the ability to effectively track an ROI. Simply put, there is absolutely no reason for an MSP not to have cold, hard data on how their campaigns are performing. After all, how can you possibly optimize and improve your marketing strategy without knowing how anything is performing? That’s like performing surgery with a blindfold on.
Platforms like Google Analytics, HubSpot, Salesforce, and Pardot make it easier than ever to keep track of how many leads your campaigns are generating, as well as how many of those leads are closing and what kind of revenue is being generated by them. Another great way to start collecting data on how your campaigns are performing is to add a field on your website’s lead form that asks the prospect “How Did You Hear About Us?” While this data isn’t foolproof and not everyone will fill it out (I recommend keeping it optional so it doesn’t act as a barrier to entry), the data you do get will be far more helpful than having nothing at all. As you get clarity on which campaigns are actually driving business, you can refine your strategy to focus more heavily on them.
Not Marketing At All
This one may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many MSPs need to hear it. Marketing your business is crucial to achieving scalable growth in 2021 and beyond, and the old cliche “you need to spend money to make money” is truer now than ever before. Gone are the days of relying solely on loyal customers and word-of-mouth advertising to grow your business (although both are still very important, of course). Spending on B2B marketing is expected to hit new highs in 2021, so it’s time to start taking it seriously if you don’t want to be left in the dust.
There is a silver lining here, though. One main reason that B2B spending continues to rise is because of how accessible it has become. You no longer need to work with some fancy, expensive NYC marketing agency or spend millions of dollars per year on ads. Even $500-$1,000/mo. can be a big enough budget to get the ball rolling.
If you don’t know where to start with your marketing strategy, I recommend using content as a jumping-off point. Keeping your MSP’s blog up to date can be a great way to show off your knowledge while providing value to clients and prospects. You can then promote this content on LinkedIn to get your MSP’s name out there. For info and tips on keeping your MSP blog updated, check out my recent MSP Growth Hacks article. And if you still need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to contractors and agencies to give your strategy a jump-start!
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