A 2015 survey of IT decision makers found that 70 percent want a single vendor to manage their entire IT infrastructure, including managed Cloud and on-premises or co-located infrastructure. They are ready to embrace managed Cloud services – as soon as they find the right provider.
If an MSP wants a chance to guide companies through their Cloud transition and manage and monitor their distributed workloads and environments for years to come, they first need to stand out from the competition.
MSPs need to be two things:
- Discoverable: Decision makers need to be able to find them online while they are researching and comparing solutions
- Distinct: MSPs selling Cloud need to differentiate themselves from the competition by catering to a specific vertical; delivering desirable benefits like reliability, security, performance; or positioning themselves as experts in a specialized technology or service
Is Marketing Your Missing Link?
The biggest marketing strategy mistake an MSP can make is to ignore marketing altogether or put it off until they have more time, funds, or a marketing staff. You need to define your distinct brand identity and MSP marketing plan now, or risk getting drowned out by too many similar providers.
If you don’t make the time to market the unique value of your services consistently, your marketing challenges are only going to grow and compound. And if you think you can rely on partners for marketing and branding, think again. You’ll sound like every other partner of that vendor or distributor, and leave an incredible opportunity on the table: the chance to attract your ideal customers by broadcasting what makes you rare and exceptional.
If your MSP or VAR marketing plan is floundering – or nonexistent – chances are one (or all) of these three missteps are leading you astray.
3 MSP Marketing Missteps (and How to Get Back On Track)
Misstep #1: Speaking Like a Techie
Too often, MSPs speak IT, when they should speak value. It’s difficult to communicate what makes your services special through abstract numbers and impersonal specs. This information becomes important when leads are close to buying and want to compare the nitty-gritty details, but it’s no way to captivate and engage early on when decision makers are looking for big picture solutions to their business challenges.
You might be speaking like a techie if:
- Your website reads like the fine print of an SLA
- Your selling points are copied and pasted from a supplier or distributor’s handbook
- The only content you have to offer is datasheets, spec sheets, or manuals
- Sales conversations sound more like a lecture than a dialogue
Get Back on Track by Speaking the Customer’s Language
Your MSP marketing plan should help you resonate with leads by speaking to their core needs and ambitions. What business owners really want to know is if you can help them become more successful, productive, and competitive. They want maximum returns on their IT spend, which is why their ears perk up when you start talking about the business value of your services.
What do you offer that an on-premises IT environment can’t? What desirable advantages can a business gain from your services? Most companies are itching for greater efficiency, flexibility, security, reliability, and freedom from IT maintenance and monitoring. So, when marketing your Cloud services, tell them clearly and specifically how you can fulfill these desires.
Speak your customer’s language, not yours. For example, instead of saying you can migrate iSeries AS400 applications to an AWS EC2 instance, tell them you can deftly transition legacy applications to the Cloud to extend their lifespan, increase performance, and lower costs.
Misstep #2: Inconsistent Messaging
For many MSPs, marketing is a desperate reaction, not a deliberate strategy. They wait until sales numbers are dangerously low, then scramble to reach new clients fast. When (or if) work starts to trickle in again, they grow complacent and stop marketing.
It’s understandable that time-strapped business owners would adopt a “good enough” approach to an MSP marketing plan. Unfortunately, irregular email blasts, sporadic social media posts, and aimless campaigns can do more harm than good. Today’s digital buyers research brands across various touch points. When your message varies from one to the next, or you’re simply non-existent on some channels, your brand is quickly overshadowed by the competition and forgotten — at best. At worst, you appear unreliable and erratic — two things no one is looking for in an MSP.
Get Back on Track by Delivering a Steady Drip of Content
You may have heard this quote from business coach Malachi Pancoast: “The odds of hitting your target go up dramatically when you aim at it.” Well, the odds go up even more when you keep aiming at it day after day.
Marketing is not a quick fix; it’s a commitment to an ongoing relationship with customers and prospects. It takes at least six to eight touches to generate a strong sales lead. That may sound daunting, but a “steady drip” MSP marketing plan doesn’t have to take over your life. In fact, a regular marketing rhythm is more manageable — and less disruptive to your business — than tackling one big mad dash campaign every six months.
The most effective (and consistent) content marketing strategies are guided by the customer. Start by mapping the customer journey to determine what your ideal prospects are looking for at each phase of the buying process. Then focus on delivering relevant, meaningful, and engaging content to meet their needs every step of the way.
Misstep #3: Letting Vendors and Distributors Market for You
MSPs and VARs are often in partnership with technology suppliers and distributors who have already generated informational and marketing materials. So why reinvent the wheel? Because even if your company is reselling a white label solution, or managing services hosted by a larger provider, it is still unique. You aren’t simply marketing a particular product or service, you are marketing what you do differently (and better) than the rest.
If you rely solely on the vendor or distributors message, you become indistinguishable from all the other MSPs and VARs who are ostensibly providing the same solutions and services. Your customers may even receive the identical message from both you and a competitor. You are missing a critical opportunity to target specific verticals and business needs. Simply put, you aren’t telling people about the real value of what you do.
Marketing “shortcuts” are always tempting, but you won’t like the results.
Get Back on Track by Targeting Your Message
What sets you apart from your competitors? If you offered managed Public Cloud services, tell me why and how you do this. Who specifically can benefit from this, and in what ways?
It’s the difference between saying, “We offer managed Public Cloud,” and saying, “We enable healthcare organizations to access scalable Public Cloud resources in a secure environment monitored by HIPAA compliance certified specialists.”
If you’re struggling to differentiate and develop a targeted MSP marketing plan, work with a marketing agency that genuinely understands the channel. They can help you identify what makes you uniquely valuable by examining successful case studies, talking to happy clients, and interviewing your team to create a compelling story about your brand.
Let Five Pilots Take Care of Your MSP Marketing Plan
Creating a great MSP marketing plan may not be easy, but it is attainable. The most successful Cloud MSPs and VARs will wisely invest in targeting their ideal prospects throughout the customer journey. They will craft messages that resonate with Cloud seekers, develop a consistent content marketing strategy, and work to distinguish themselves from the competition.
You don’t have to market alone. Five Pilots is here to help launch your MSP marketing strategy with our one-of-a-kind Cloud sales acceleration process. If you’re ready to become a distinct and discoverable brand, get in touch with us today.