Marketing. You know you need it, but you hate the thought of doing it. You may not know where to start or what to do, or maybe you just find the whole process cumbersome and confusing.
If you were with us for our first piece on MSP digital marketing, you’ve got a good road map from which to navigate, and you already know that the all-important first step — an MSP marketing plan — is the foundation upon which your marketing efforts will fail or succeed.
In part 2 of our series on MSP digital marketing, we’ll help you tackle your MSP marketing plan, so you’ll have the best possible chance to be successful when you embark upon the all-important task of putting your company in front of your potential new clients.
Where to Start When Creating an MSP Marketing Plan?
Before you can sell something — and before you can build a realistic plan — you need to understand and answer three questions:
- What are you selling? Define your product or service
- What do potential clients want or need? Isolate their pain points
- Why are you better? What makes your products or services better than anyone else’s?
It’s about product-to-market fit.
That last one dovetails into the first two — that is, you need to know what you’re selling and what your potential clients need — before you can answer the third one. The first two help you answer the third question. So let’s look at these items again, this time answering the questions:
- What are you selling? A public cloud solution for SMEs
- What do potential clients want or need? To lower costs and maintain or improve network services
- Why are you better? While the service you provide is technically similar to your competitors’, you are slightly more expensive; but your proprietary security mechanisms and your hands-on technical support are far superior to the competition’s
Consider how these three questions were answered:
- The first is straightforward enough: you provide a service for SMEs
- The second addresses customer pain points: lowering costs without sacrificing service
- The third is where it gets interesting: you’re more expensive than the competition; but you offer something superior — better security and better support
Here’s where you need to reconcile things because if potential clients want to lower costs, then telling them you’re more expensive will end the conversation before it begins. How do you reconcile the message so your clients get what they need (lower costs)? Simple. You master the message.
Build a Message
Before mastering your message, however, you need to have one. Generally, this means:
- Writing down what you do
- Defining what you sell
- Creating a vision statement
- Creating a mission statement
- Creating the main message from all of the above
Keep it on-point and in point form. You can tweak and refine at any point in the future.
Master the Message
Contrary to what some people think about marketing, the message isn’t smoke and mirrors. It’s not a falsehood. Rather, it’s a way of matching your products and services with client needs and educating them in the process.
Think about how your competition would message this. They would sell their products and services based upon the fact that they’re more cost-effective — i.e., cheaper than you. But in that message, something is missing. How is their security? How is their support?
You’ve done your research and you know that your competitors can’t hold a candle to your security and service. But those are seemingly soft benefits that may not resonate with a CEO or CFO (or vendor that understands their pain points) who’s hyper-focused on saving money (i.e., hard, tangible benefits). So how do you translate that into something that satisfies the second question (lower costs)?
Simple. You factor in how superior security and service translate into the bottom line. You don’t have to perform any calculus for this. It’s not complicated math. For now, you’re focused on messaging, because that’s what turns traffic into conversions. ROI will come later, when you’re sitting down with a prospective client.
For now, the message is simple, and you match it to your two main value propositions, presented as questions:
- Security — how much will it cost if your security is compromised?
- Service — how much does network downtime cost you?
You see, a CEO or CFO will know exactly how much it’s worth to them. And they can do the quick math when comparing you to your less expensive competitor. In most cases, they’ll recognize the money they’ll save by choosing you.
And that’s the genesis of your message: we’ll save you money.
Know Your Audience
It may seem like putting the cart before the horse to identify specific pain points before undergoing the process of understanding your potential clients, but keep in mind that the previous exercise of generating a message is a general activity that forms the basis for your plan. It’s not meant to surgically target specific clients.
You were merely defining your value proposition, and that proposition states that better security and better service equate to cost savings.
Now you have to prove it. Without choosing one specific target client, what you need to do is understand your client in the general sense. And that means:
- Identifying the needs of companies and vendors as a whole
- Understanding what message will resonate with them
When you actually sit down with new prospects, you’ll be able to tailor your offering to their specific needs, but for now you simply cannot be that surgical.
Instead, understand what, specifically, will ring true for your potential clients — your audience — and we’ve pretty much answered that with the first step, the message. But you still need to know specific pain points that ail them. The hot buttons.
Examples of pain points/hot buttons include:
- Lost or unrealized income
- Excessive costs
- Lack of automation
- Pressure from the top to save money
These, and others, will populate the depths of your message. In other words, the main message (we’ll save you money) provides incentive to read on; the pain points remind them why they want to pick up the phone or email you.
Commit to Excellence
The two cardinal rules of marketing are:
- Be consistent with your message
- Keep your message focused (remember you can’t be all things for all people)
Consistency in marketing, as in all aspects of business, is crucial. If you can’t provide consistent results on an ongoing basis, then you probably won’t be successful. Think Coca-Cola, IBM, Apple, Google, and so on. Their ongoing success is based on consistent results every time. That bottle of Coke that you purchase today will produce a similar experience as the one you bought back in 1995. The same can be said of Coke’s marketing, from Santa Claus in the early 1900s (whose image has barely changed since conception) to the “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” TV ad in the early 1970s to their current advertising. It makes you want to buy a Coke, and that’s the entire point.
Being focused is equally as important. It’s easy (and common) for a business owner to try to explain all the nuances of his or her business when put on the spot. But if you spend more than a minute explaining what you do (and a minute is generous), then you’ve probably lost your audience. You should have an ‘elevator pitch,’ a brief, 25 — 30 word explanation that describes your business. Be prepared to elaborate if asked to, but assume that everyone is busy and that people will ask for more information if substantially motivated to.
Once you understand your message and your audience, it’s time to coordinate your MSP marketing plan. You can develop it through a series of steps:
- The Approach — assess your options
- Target the Audience — identify who you’re selling to
- Content — learn how to create great content and explore the various options of both traditional and digital MSP marketing materials
- Advertising — explain where, when, and why
- Measure — actual results (conversions and sales) will help you identify what works and what doesn’t
Keep in mind that your plan is a living, breathing document that can and probably will evolve over time. It’s not written in stone, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
The first part of this series speaks to the various MSP digital marketing mechanisms that you can implement. You identify those mechanisms in your MSP marketing plan. Marketing’s a far more daunting task if you look at it as a big picture. Hopefully our ‘bite sized’ approach to developing an MSP marketing plan will help shake loose real goals and targets.
You may be able to implement it internally, or you may find that it’s too much to handle alone. We can guide you through the important first steps of cementing your plan and pulling it off. We can ease your fears and lead you to new successes. For more information on how we can assist you in developing world-class marketing solutions, contact us today.