Let’s be honest, most Managed Service Providers (MSP) struggle to find leads. It is the one thing in marketing that eludes them. The secret formula for generating leads seems to be held by only a few (usually larger) companies that seem to grow at a regular pace year over year. For those that have hired the salesperson, built the website, written the blog posts, paid for that billboard, and tried that one cold calling company yet still don’t have the growth they are looking for, the results can seem just out of reach.
MSP marketing does not have to be that hard. While I would love to tell you the formula is simple and it really is not that hard, that would not be the truth. It is hard and there isn’t a magic formula. There is hope; however, for there is a “right” combination of marketing and sales efforts that will help your marketing effort and make your phone ring. Unfortunately, they are just not the same for everyone. Here are some tips for getting started with your marketing and sales efforts.
Work on Your Brand First
Many MSPs dump money on pay per click ads or SEO marketing to increase website traffic, only to be disappointed that the calls don’t follow. This is because your website sucks. Sorry to be so blunt but this is not 1998 and your site design and content does not reflect a modern feel. That isn’t the only problem though. Social media has created consumers that want to know more than just what services your offer. Your website is no longer just an information portal, it is a window into your personality and core values. “People want to do business with people, not businesses”, my Dad always used to say. Well he was right and is even more right today with the proliferation of social media.
If you drive a lead to your site and they don’t click through to contact you, then your message is wrong. They may not like the look and feel of your site and think it is unprofessional, or they may get turned off by the abundance of content, or there is just no call to action on your page. Bottom line is, fix your website. If you aren’t good at it, outsource it to someone who is talented in this space. And I don’t mean a web designer, there are plenty of those. Find a good marketing company that really understands you or will spend the time to understand your company and your values and then translate that into web pages for your prospective customers to see. Prospective customers should see “you” in the pages.
There is a Minimum
Too often MSP’s dip their toe in the water of marketing and are frustrated by the lack of results. That is like buying a car without an engine and wondering why it takes so long to get places. At a bare minimum, you are going to need to invest in talent to focus on three main areas: brand and messaging, compelling design and lead generation. While it is ideal that you find these talents in one outsourced marketing company, sometimes you have to use different external resources or possibly mix internal resources with external. But the reality is each of these areas is going to cost you. You can do them in phases if you want to stretch your budget but they all must be done.
While brand, messaging and design is probably an annual conversation, lead generation is an ongoing expense whether you decide to use pay per click advertising, SEO, direct advertising, or a combination of any of these. So here is the lesson. Don’t be cheap. It is not unusual to spend 5-10k/month or a marketing plan that actually works. Your market determines how expensive it may be to get results, especially in regard to SEO and pay per click advertising. Ask an expert marketer and they can probably give you a ball park by running a few keyword scans. Marketopia is a great marketing company that can help. Another great option is Pronto Marketing. Both have experience working with MSP’s and know how to you get you ranked organically and through pay-per-click advertising.
Build a Sales Engine
A sales engine refers to a set of processes and human resources designed to manage a target prospect from initial contact through the sales cycle and to conversion into a customer. Some MSP’s that are small follow a “principal led sales” marketing model which means the owner is typically the one receiving the lead and following up with prospects to convert leads into sales. While this works well because the owner is the best salesperson a company can have, it does not scale.
There is little point in investing in marketing and lead generation if leads come into your company and drop into an invisible void never to be seen again. It is not enough to get the lead; you must also track it and report on it. There are many systems that are very good at this so pick one and make sure you have a written process that details what happens to that lead, who manages it, what metrics you expect (such as close ratios and conversion rates) and there is management oversight of the process.
Put it all Together
Small MSP’s do struggle for leads and often cannot compete with the larger companies when it comes to marketing spend, but that does not mean they cannot invest in their growth. Work on your brand, make sure to spend more than the minimum and get that sales engine right and you will have your phone ringing with leads before you know it! If you need a little help, reach out to us at Redvine Operations and we can point you in the right direction.