The loudest voices in marketing can paint a picture where late-night infomercials, cheesy banner ads, and pushy salespeople represent the standard of what marketing is and should be. While there is no shortage of bad marketing out there, it is possible to aggressively (and effectively) market your MSP business without sacrificing your dignity or tarnishing your reputation.
In the right hands, marketing can rise above the role of “necessary evil.” A thoughtful approach to marketing can bring in your ideal managed services prospects while growing and improving your reputation at the same time.
5 Tips for marketing your MSP the right way
Here’s how you can get the reap the benefits of marketing while maintaining your dignity:
Stay on brand. Map out the story your brand tells, and clarify how your brand should communicate and behave as well as what it should stand for. This means going beyond creating a generic mission statement. Identify the DNA of your business, and establish how you want to communicate that to clients and prospects. Once you map out your brand, align every facet of your MSP business to match it—from your website to your sales associates—and use your own brand standards as measuring sticks for any new collateral or marketing.
Work with partners instead of vendors. Launching a new advertising campaign is never more than a few mouse-clicks away, but to design and implement a well-structured and on-brand initiative requires a more engaged conversation. A vendor will happily build what you ask and cash their check. A partner will insist on a dialog about what you aim to accomplish and how best to reach that goal. They’ll also be willing to challenge you if it means doing what they see as best for your business. Partners will by nature be more invested in their work and therefore deliver the kind of marketing you can be proud of.
Learn from prospects and customers. The hard and soft data that your business generates as you engage prospects and serve customers can help you refine your marketing messages. If your sales team uses a refined sales process, you can debrief on sales calls to learn from your successes as well as your failures. If you gather data on how customers use your services and routinely survey them to learn more about their perspective on your business, you can not only improve your business but translate those insights into marketing messages. When your marketing messages are built on the foundations of real customer interactions, your authenticity will ring true.
Lead meaningful conversations. Thought leadership is becoming an overused buzzword, but the sincere practice of thought leadership is still powerful. Your marketing does not have to devolve to grocery-store-grade “buy one, get one” advertising. The platform that you build for your brand and the dollars you put into driving traffic to that brand can focus on actionable, useful insights. Your whitepapers, for example, do not have to be a dumping ground for SEO keywords. Have a genuine conversation—via whitepapers, blog posts, social media, podcasts, or even ads—about the challenges your prospects face and give them information that benefits their business, whether they hire your MSP or not.
Get the right people on the bus. This is a classic tenant from Jim Collins’ famous book Good to Great, but it’s still relevant. Just as you should be careful about what marketing partners you engage, you also need to hire the right people for your business. Your internal culture will ripple outward, and who you choose to represent your brand in even the smallest interactions can have a big impact. If you hire the right people, that impact will be positive.
Your marketing efforts, whether they include digital ads, workshops, appointment setting, direct mail, or email newsletters, should all represent your business the way you see it. That means you should be proud of every aspect of your marketing mix. If you don’t feel that way, the solution is not to do less marketing. Rather, you should change your approach.