Like unsung heroes, managed service providers (MSPs) work tirelessly behind the scenes to provide organizations of all sizes with IT services.
Considering the indispensable role network access now plays in nearly every business on the planet, MSPs are invaluable partners in modern-day operations.
However, like the organizations they serve, MSPs must also attract new clients to keep the doors open. This is where many of them fall short. Relying on word-of-mouth referrals is the most common method of acquiring new clientele — hands down.
While there is nothing wrong with warm referrals, providers are leaving money on the table by not engaging in a few simple marketing best practices.
The problem is most MSPs, even the larger agencies, don’t have much time left over for marketing initiatives. In addition, hiring an in-house marketer or agency is not often in the budget. The good news is you don’t need either one.
This article will provide an overview of how time-strapped MSPs can most effectively put proven online marketing best practices into action.
Marketing for MSPs: Too Little or Too Much?
We all know the risk of putting all one’s eggs into one basket, but what happens when the eggs are all over the place… in several baskets?
For MSPs, and most other types of businesses, balancing marketing priorities is a delicate dance. On the one hand, relying solely on word-of-mouth referrals limits your reach and growth potential.
On the other hand, putting energy into too many techniques, tactics, and social channels will leave you spread too thin.
This is especially true when you consider the numerous marketing channels you can put time, energy, and money into. In other words, try to do too much, and you will end up doing nothing at all. So, what’s an MSP to do?
Here are our two MSP marketing best practice tips:
- Master your organization’s written core marketing message.
- Expand upon it over and over again as you focus on one or two marketing strategies (tops) and ignore the rest.
At this point, you may be wondering…
What Is a Core Marketing Message?
A core marketing message, sometimes referred to as a unique value proposition, is a statement that communicates your service’s key benefits to prospective clients.
It should be clear, concise, and consistent across all your marketing efforts from advertising and social media campaigns to website copy.
The core message addresses your audience’s pain points, presents your service as a solution, provides compelling reasons for clients to choose your service, and points out what sets you apart from your competitors. Sounds easy enough, right?
How to Articulate Your MSP Marketing Message
You know what your business does and what value you provide to your clients. But how do you put that into words that are easy for non-technical audiences to understand?
When crafting a core message, take the following actions:
1. Identify Your Target Audience (and Their Pain Point)
This might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s worth emphasizing — spend time conversing with, surveying, and analyzing your ideal customers. What size businesses do you want to partner with? What are typically their biggest IT priorities? Where are they located?
Each industry has its own unique pain points, buzzwords, and objectives. MSPs serving highly regulated industries, like healthcare and finance, should do even more digging to understand common IT challenges, concerns, and compliance requirements.
The less you assume you already know what your target audience needs, and the more you test your assumptions with data and discovery sessions, the more effective both your messaging and distribution choices will be.
2. State Your Unique Value Proposition and How It Helps Them
Have you ever attempted to hire a specific type of professional with little knowledge of their scope of work? For example, maybe you needed an attorney, but your network didn’t come through with a warm referral.
You likely had no idea what kinds of questions to ask, what makes one attorney different from another, and what type of criteria you should use to make your decision. While some of your prospects will know exactly what they need from an MSP, others may be as lost as you were finding that lawyer.
Translation: providers who describe the value they provide in clear, concise, and comforting language have a significant advantage over those who don’t.
Perhaps you own a proprietary technology that allows you to provide real-time threat monitoring and response to prevent costly data breaches and protect your clients’ reputation. Or, maybe you provide an elegant single sign-on (SSO) solution that enhances security, increases employee productivity, and simplifies password management by employing the JumpCloud Directory Platform.
Whatever your unique selling points are, connect them to the direct benefits that matter most to your clientele. If you’re not sure what makes your services unique, consider talking up the selling points of your partners. Aligning your MSP with trustworthy, credible, and innovative partnerships is an easy way to add weight to your marketing.
3. Use Simple Language (And Sell the Sizzle)
Describing the services you provide in technical terms probably feels natural. As a cloud directory provider, we love talking about LDAP, RADIUS, MFA, and more. But these acronyms mean nothing to those who have never worked in an IT department!
Were we targeting a less tech-savvy audience, we would heavily focus on describing what these technologies allow customers to accomplish in our marketing materials (and we still do that anyway because it’s good marketing). Similarly, MSPs should always lead their messaging with the end results of using their services.
As the famous salesman Elmer Wilmer once said, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak… Your first 10 words are infinitely more important than your next 10,000 words.”
Lead with the benefits your customers will receive from your partnership and close with the technical aspects of how you are able to deliver such fantastic results.
4. Tell Success Stories
What are the chances that satisfied clients who already refer you to other prospects would also be willing to help you reach a wider audience? Pretty high.
Take advantage of this by showcasing existing clients through testimonials, reviews, and case studies. Focus on how your service has helped them solve specific challenges that made it possible for them to achieve their goals (e.g., IT compliance, improved security posture, faster onboarding/offboarding).
5. Be Human
We know this may be surprising to some professionals, but you can be taken seriously while also having a personality.
Communicate in a genuine manner, use humor when appropriate, show empathy for client challenges, and adopt a conversational tone in your marketing material.
Essentially, approach your marketing message like you’re building a relationship with your audience rather than trying to sell them something.
Where to Use Your New MSP Marketing Message
Once you’ve written your core messaging (a few brief paragraphs will do), it’s time to put it in front of people. Consider placing your new copy in the following places:
Your company website is the most effective tool you have at your disposal to communicate what makes your services unique, why clients should choose you, and how they can get in touch with you. From the homepage copy to product pages and blog posts, you should be consistent in your messages throughout the website.
Social Media Pages
Your social media pages are amplifiers of your core message. Whether you’re using Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, your message should be consistent on all platforms. Also, tailor your content to fit each platform and its users.
For example, IT services are not necessarily anyone’s favorite topic on the Gram. Nonetheless, if your business thrives in visual storytelling, you could take advantage of Instagram to showcase the value your business provides.
This is as opposed to explaining the technical aspects of your services which you might rather do on channels such as LinkedIn or YouTube. As previously mentioned, we only recommend focusing on one or two marketing methods at a time. So, don’t go social media crazy for the sake of covering all your bases. In fact, you may decide to skip social entirely, and that’s OK.
Google Business Directory Listing
This is the one of the first results that a potential client sees when they search Google for the services that your business provides. The directory listing displays your business name, business hours, directions, and reviews.
A quick Google search for “MSPs Austin” reveals the nearest relevant MSP listing is located in Katy, Texas (that’s 2 hours away). Considering Austin is the tech capital of Texas, it’s highly unlikely there are no MSPs in the city.
However, none of them have taken 5 minutes to list their business. Does listing yourself guarantee raining leads? No, but even one contract would make it worth the effort! When listing your business, you will also want to consider alternative search terms.
An end user like a dentist may not know he needs a “managed service provider,” but he knows he needs “outsourced IT support.” Consider using terms like service provider, technology solutions provider, remote monitoring and management (RMM) provider, and network operations center (NOC) provider to widen your net.
PPC ads are targeted toward people who have searched for the services you provide. When using PPC, ensure that the ad copy aligns with your core message.
Also, ensure that its visuals, language, and tone match that of the landing page. This helps to create a seamless experience for potential clients and increases your chance of converting them into customers.
Social Media Advertisement
These ads typically appear in users’ feeds, stories, or as sponsored content, and they can include images, videos, or text. Like your other social media content, ads should be consistent with your message, as well as the platform’s characteristics.
Also, while you might be tempted to get your ad noticed by as many people as possible, you’re probably better off focusing on groups or clusters where your target audience are most likely to congregate.
Case studies are a great way to showcase how your business solved a particular problem or challenge. They provide social proof and a real-life demonstration of the benefits your customers can expect from partnering with you.
Plus, case studies provide insights into your business’s processes, expertise, and problem-solving abilities, which can further differentiate you from other MSPs.
Imagine you’re at an industry conference or a local business mixer, and someone asks what your MSP organization does. Can you explain the services you render and highlight your standout benefits without missing a beat?
Instead of dishing out as many business cards as possible, strike meaningful conversations with people. Taking a genuine interest in someone else’s partnerships could lead to a long-term business relationship or referral. If you’re not sure where to start networking, we recommend checking out your local Chamber of Commerce. Here you are likely to find a large variety of local businesses in need of tech support.
Get Free MSP Marketing Collateral with JumpCloud
In a world with decreasing attention spans, communicating your unique value proposition clearly has never been more important. But synthesizing something as complex as IT security hygiene into a compelling value proposition isn’t always easy!
As part of the JumpCloud Ascent Partner Program, JumpCloud partners have access to marketing support and funding for co-marketing activities. Our experts are continuously creating co-brandable and re-brandable sales and marketing assets to help MSPs find and attract new clientele.
Click here to learn more about the JumpCloud Ascent Partner Program.