What is MSP marketing?
MSP marketing is a broad topic, but it covers how managed service providers promote and grow their businesses. If you are an MSP, this article covers the key concepts that our team here at IT Rockstars have developed over five years of working in the MSP marketing field. You’ll agree that there are many different MSP marketing tactics and strategies out there. By reading this article, you’ll have a clear MSP marketing plan for your technology business. The key learning is there are four effective types of MSP marketing strategies:
📊 Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
👩💼 Account-based marketing (ABM)
📝 Content marketing
📆 Event-based marketing
These are the four strategies suitable for most MSPs that want results, but there’s a catch: your MSP marketing plan needs an element of follow-up and sales outlined below.
Why is MSP marketing important?
Most MSPs rely on referrals and word of mouth. Those in sales or good at building relationships can quickly scale their businesses over a few years. However, you’ve either reached a stage of maturity in your MSP where more than referrals are needed to sustain the company, or you are an owner-operator where sales/relationship building is secondary. This is where MSP marketing can help.
The benefits of MSP marketing strategy
The not-so-obvious benefit of MSP marketing is that it removes many objections during the sales process. Suppose you are providing MSP marketing content that educates and is helpful to potential customers. In that case, they are going to be better informed about the services and solutions that you offer. Of course, the main benefit of MSP marketing is that it will allow you to attract potential new clients to your business through the mechanism in which this is done, which requires a process in your business to convert enquiries or those that show interest into genuinely qualified leads. Following up with all incoming enquiries via search engine optimization, events and relevant marketing activities is needed. Most perceive managed IT support and managed services as a cost to the business. MSP marketing can help educate, but there’s an emotional, human element that also needs to be triggered. Fear of missing out, cyber risk, and lack of clarity in technology are all triggers that MSP marketing can assist with, but the actual winning of the business happens in person.
How to Develop an MSP Marketing Strategy
Setting goals and objectives
MSP marketing goals should focus on traffic, conversions and impressions on your website. Google Analytics can give you a baseline of what your average monthly visitors are.
From there, you can plan how many new website visitors you want to attract. Then, identify keywords and develop an MSP marketing content plan.
The simplest way to do this is in the Google search console – look at what your website is already ranking for and optimize it further to achieve the top position for these keywords.
Other goals related to ABM should be appointments booked in the diary. Account-based marketing is the marketing process specifically to prospects you want to do business with using direct mail, LinkedIn outreach and cold email. A combination of online and offline marketing with a follow-up process that involves a sales development representative calling these prospects once they’ve been in your marketing audience is imperative.
Developing A Client Avatar For MSP Marketing Efforts
Identifying your target audience is a crucial key point for all MSP marketing methods. Tools like LinkedIn sales navigator and keyword research are vital in developing a prospect list to market to.
There may even be a qualification piece researching the size of the company (amount of users) and who are likely the key IT buying decision maker(s), location and industry. These data points can be fetched from the LinkedIn sales navigator, allowing you to build a list of highly targeted accounts.
If you plan to host an event or webinar, knowing who to invite relates to your target audeince. The topic for your event/webinar can then be customized for the audience you have in mind before the event.
The main benefit of an event is that it can help you establish authority and relationships in the real world instead of just communicating your value through the various MSP marketing channels. All MSPs should run an event at least once per quarter to help establish them in the marketplace.
The audience you build using search engine optimization, ABM, and events is a form of lead generation that will eventually result in booked appointments in your diary.
Competitor analysis in the managed IT services industry
Acquiring market share can take time and effort. Competitor analysis will help. Using search engine optimization backlink audit tools will give you insight into where your customers are getting mentioned around the web and their existing customers.
Above is an example competitor analysis backlink report we carried out for a member of IT Rockstars – this is included as part of our membership.
Below, you can see precisely who links to this site, existing customers, digital press releases, and industry events. The backlink list will give you a deep understanding of your competitors.
The insights gleaned from these results can help you build out a content and SEO MSP marketing plan.
Developing a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
We know how difficult it is to stand out and be unique as an MSP. Many sell the same solutions and help businesses use technology to achieve business goals. A unique selling proposition that differs from your competitors is crucial in your MSP marketing.
A massive transformative purpose (MTP) can help you achieve a USP that stands tall above even the largest competitors you have in the marketplace.
An MTP, or Massive Transformative Purpose, is a guiding statement that articulates a company’s mission to create significant, transformative change. It is broader and more aspirational than a traditional mission statement and is designed to drive innovation and progress within the company, its community, and even the industry at large. An MTP is meant to be bold, inspirational, and relatable, helping to attract talent, customers, and investors who share the same values and vision.
For example, Google’s MTP could be said to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
A USP, or Unique Selling Proposition, is the factor or consideration presented by a seller because one product or service is different from and better than the competition’s. It makes your business stand out and tells your customers what is unique about you.
In the context of an MSP, which stands for Managed Service Provider, developing a USP means identifying what sets your service apart from other MSPs in terms of quality, cost, customer service, or any other factor necessary to your target market.
An MTP can help you develop a USP for your MSP by providing a clear and ambitious vision that your whole company can rally behind. It can inspire innovative solutions that can become your USP.
For example, if your MTP is to “revolutionize the way businesses leverage technology for growth,” your USP might be providing cutting-edge tech solutions that are tailored to each business’s growth stage, which other MSPs might not offer.
Choosing the correct MSP marketing channels.
There are many channels you can promote and communicate your message on. Choosing the right MSP marketing channels is crucial, and any failures you may make can be a good lesson learnt.
We’ve developed a matrix that will allow you to choose not only the right channels but also solutions that complement the activities associated with the four MSP marketing strategies.
How you prioritize these will be dictated by the budget and how willing you are to invest in revenue growth. Just remember the quote a great marketing expert, Dan S Kenedy, has – “Ultimately, the business that can spend the most to acquire a customer wins.”
|MSP Marketing Strategy
|Purpose & Benefits
|IT Rockstars Solutions
|Ideal Marketing Channels
|Search Engine Optimization
|Increase organic visibility and ranking on search engines and attract more traffic.
|SEO Audit & SEO Guidance Training for MSPs and SEO Hosting.
|Company Website, Blogs Online Directories, Digital PR, Local SEO Citations
|Account Based Marketing
|Personalize marketing efforts for specific high-value accounts to drive engagement and conversions.
|ABM 4-part course within membership.
|LinkedIn, Direct Mail, Social Media Retargeting
|To create engaging experiences that connect with customers and prospects, often in a live or virtual setting.
|Checklist of promotional tactics to fill the room.
|LinkedIn Messages, Email Marketing, Local/Niche Facebook Groups
|To attract and engage a target audience through informative and valuable content.
|IT Rockstars Ink, monthly premium marketing content
|Website Blog, LinkedIn Newsletter, Repurpose to podcast.
MSP Marketing Best Practices
A fundamental law in the MSP marketing universe and the one law that must always be followed. The business community is finite in size. Your reputation means a lot.
Don’t use duplicate content.
Many MSP marketing services offer white-label content that you can repurpose across your website and social media feeds. This will attract the attention of Google, and you may get a negative SEO penalty. If you do want to continue to use white-label content, we recommend customizing it to your locality/niche using the IT Rockstars AI tool.
Educate and entertain
It’s straightforward to get lost in technology when marketing your IT business—telling your audience about the latest cool gadget or problems you’ve recently solved. It might sound great, but think about your prospects and customers. What are their pain points?
If you can help your prospects with your marketing content and at the same time educate and entertain, you’ll find that’s a winning formula. It will drive engagement and readership. Your prospects will get to know you and start to like you, and eventually, this will build trust. When you finally speak with them, they will be far more receptive to meeting with you.
Not all of your prospects are ready to buy all of the time. Their technology problems come and go. How can you stay top of mind so that when they are thinking of switching providers or need a tech problem solved, they immediately think of you? The answer is to appear consistently. Little and often.
Remember your offline marketing strategy.
With all things digital, it’s easy to get lost and caught up in the latest platforms. MSP digital marketing is something that many tech companies gravitate towards, as so many of their business operations and tools are online. However, offline MSP marketing channels are just as important and can have a far more significant impact if combined with online.
Offline marketing tactics;
Shock and awe boxes
Use a retargeting pixel
One of the best online marketing tactics many miss when marketing their MSP business is the retargeting pixel. You’ve probably experienced this before when searching for a product on Amazon, but for some reason, you decided not to buy it. A few hours or days later, you see the same product on your social media timeline, acting as a reminder that the item is still in your shopping cart. This is known as retargeting and can be extremely powerful if implemented correctly.
You can implement this same retargeting strategy in your MSP business.
Next time someone lands on your website, you can pixel them and start a retargeting campaign explicitly targeted at that interested buyer of IT services. For example, let’s say someone lands on a blog post on your website that talks all about cloud computing and productivity budgeting tips. You can then start to show this prospect a series of videos and articles that discuss some other cloud computing solutions you offer. The beauty of this approach is that you can apply the content across multiple platforms and build an ongoing audience of “IT buyers” who will start to engage with the content you publish regularly. If you follow the steps that we outline here at IT Rockstars, you’ll find that combining a retargeting approach with a list of highly targeted prospects will lead to more meetings in the diary.
The Last word – the most crucial element of MSP marketing:
Does your MSP sales process include a pre-lead follow-up?
What does your managed services provider business have in common with a toilet cleaning company? Your local market sees them as the same – a cost.
Most small to medium-sized businesses need to look for IT Support actively.
They are not going out of their way to download lead magnets, sign up for newsletters about tech or find out about the greatest new Microsoft Teams feature.
I hate to break it to you, but you must have an appointment booking process. You or your sales team must make the first call; you must complete the first LinkedIn request. MSP marketing helps position you as a thought leader in the technology space at the right time in the IT buying journey– it’s up to you to put all the MSP marketing words into action.
That starts with process, business development and a CRM you actively monitor and keep moving. The prospects you speak with today will say no. They will say no next time you talk, but after marketing and following up consistently, they will eventually open their door and hear what you’ve got to say.
Remember this – without sales, there is no business, so you must have a sales-focused approach that is complemented by your marketing.