In a recent survey completed by our readers, we learned that most MSPs believe that “done-for-you” services are their ideal choice when it comes to Marketing purchases. This is not a surprise as most MSP Owners are notoriously busy individuals and the idea of taking a more hands-off approach is certainly an attractive option.
In many cases, I would tend to agree with them. This is actually one of the biggest misconceptions that people have about me, as I’ve often gotten pegged as the “DIY MSP Marketing Guy.” While I often write about do-it-yourself tactics and strategies, this is more-so because it makes for more actionable content. If the takeaway at the end of every article was for you to go out and buy an all-inclusive marketing service then I am not sure how valuable that would be.
In a past life (long before I was an MSP), I actually once offered “done-for-you” marketing services. While this was the time period that I truly fell in love with marketing, it was taxing on me personally, and I told myself (and my now Wife) that I would try to avoid going down that road again at all costs. My biggest issue was with clients constantly wanting to take shortcuts and reduce the quality of our work, then expecting results as if they hadn’t. I am sure many MSPs can relate to this when it comes to IT Services.
So after years of both offering, purchasing and observing “done-for-you” MSP marketing services, I wanted to point out some of the less obvious costs and benefits of these purchases that often go overlooked. Sure you will save time, and yes that time will cost you, but there are many other aspects that don’t often get discussed:
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When purchasing “done-for-you” services, it’s easy for you to become overconfident in your company’s ability to market. This is especially true if things are going well and the provider you have chosen to work with is delivering the leads and/or activities that they promised. This is what I refer to as “resting on someone else’s laurels.”
What you may not realize is that results can change at any moment. What works today might not work tomorrow and for reasons outside of you and your provider’s control. At the same time, there could be internal and external factors happening with your provider that you are completely unaware of, which could negatively impact the future of your relationship. It’s important to always have a contingency plan and to manage your own actions in relation to the confidence you have in your provider.
Lack Of Education
What I have noticed from talking to many MSPs over the past few years is that those who purchase “done-for-you” services tend to be less likely to continuously educate themselves when it comes to marketing. While this is completely anecdotal, it does make some sense, as people aren’t going to go out of their way to learn something that they don’t have an immediate need-to-know.
Where this becomes a problem is when too much time goes by in-between education. Things evolve quickly in marketing, much like in IT, and it can be quite easy to fall behind the times. An example of this is when I meet an MSP who is knowledgeable about Google Ads because they managed them themselves when they started their company, but now that the company has matured and they’ve offloaded responsibilities, they have yet to adapt to the new way of doing things. This isn’t the end of the world, but it’s certainly something to be aware of.
In my experience, some of the best innovations come out of a place of need. While you can say that everyone “needs” marketing, I am talking about more desperate needs. This is when your back is against the wall, you have little resources to work with, and you just have to make something happen. These are the moments where we learn the most about ourselves and discover breakthrough solutions to our problems.
While I am not implying that being desperate is somehow better than having a successful marketing partnership, I am pointing out that it tends to remove innovation as a requirement. This means that companies have to consciously choose to innovate beyond the services that they are purchasing, which many opt not-to.
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Personally, I think one of the best qualities of “done-for-you” services is that the cost that you endure each month is incredibly efficient. When I say this, I mean that you often do not have to spend more additional resources on top of this in order to support that core cost. These resources spent could come as your time, costs of additional tools and subscriptions, or spending on complementary services from other sources.
A really great marketing service has the ability to absorb a lot of these additional costs and remove your company’s need for additional spending. It also should limit the amount of time you need to spend on things I mentioned previously, such as continued education and research. It’s up to you how much of these costs you endure, but at least with the backing of a “done-for-you” relationship these costs become optional and not required.
Strategy is one of the most important (and overlooked) aspects of marketing. It is also one of the most expensive, no matter how you look at it. If your organization lacks the ability to think strategically, then chances are you need to hire an outside consultant to do so. The other alternative is to operate without a strategy which can also lead to poor results and unforeseen costs.
Thankfully, for those purchasing “done-for-you” services, strategy is often baked into the cost. It would be incredibly difficult for a service provider to deliver on your agreement without having some sort of strategy in place. This another example of the cost efficiency that you get that you may not realize until you have until you have to make these strategic decisions on your own.
One of the most interesting correlations we discovered in our survey was that between participants that preferred “done-for-you” services and those that claimed they had a marketing plan. It was pretty clear that having a marketing plan was either part of the offering that they were receiving, or it was a way to document the investment they were making. Whether the document was the cause or the effect, we couldn’t argue that the two appeared to be coupled in some way.
No matter what it is, outsourcing any function of your business will require more documentation than handling it internally. Chances are, whatever the function being outsourced does not exist in a silo and it must interact with other parts of your business. For example, if you hired a provider to generate leads, you need to have a way for those leads to be delivered to your sales team and for your sales team to then report back on their quality. Developing these processes is invaluable to your organization and it appears as though this is a positive side effect of “done-for-you” partnerships.