The MSP marketplace is a highly competitive one. Increasing numbers of organizations are turning to MSPs for help with outsourced IT services as they migrate to the cloud and look to secure their data.
But finding the resources and budget to get ahead of your competition can be challenging. MSPs run highly optimized digital marketing strategies, so any competitive edge you can get can be advantageous.
The good news is that successful MSP marketing tactics do not need to break the bank. Instead, thinking carefully about your strategy and tactics to get your firm’s message ahead of the game can pay dividends.
This article suggests some ideas to push your firm forwards while not breaking the bank. Some of them are simple and may open some hot leads right under your nose. These ideas are intended to complement an MSP marketing strategy and can quickly build your reputation in your industry.
1: Are you missing any leads?
The first point of call is to check you are not missing any leads you have already generated. Checking your website’s contact form replies and direct messages from social networks is a good start. Although many of those can be clutter, you’ll find the occasional diamond in the rough.
Go over any old leads that did not come to anything previously. Revisit some old tips, particularly people you had a face-to-face meeting or video call with to see if anything is worth pursuing. Also – it may sound obvious – but don’t forget to periodically check your inbox for any old conversations that fell away.
Looking through old event lists can also be a good point of call from time to time – such as looking over old business cards from trade shows or networking events. You also have the list of Excel sheets from conferences to send a re-nurturing email. Again, reintroduce yourself and, if possible, tell the prospects about a new service you have launched or a new piece of content you have created.
2: Lean on your existing clients
Another way of creating some easy upsell from existing leads is to look for other expansion areas in your existing customers. This is especially true for customers that are larger organizations or are part of a wider group. For example, you could ask for a referral from a friendly contact in the department you already work for, or simply do some LinkedIn work to find relevant contacts in other parts of the group of companies.
To maximize your reach within existing customers, you could organize a supplier webinar to showcase your existing work for the organization. If a key sponsor of your project could be persuaded to speak on your behalf or endorse your work, this would only make it more powerful.
You could also tap into your customers to ask for referrals outside their own firm. Your customer contacts are likely to be well-connected within their own industry peers. Asking for specific referrals to companies or individuals can expand your own network.
If they do not know anyone relevant or are not comfortable referring you, the next best thing is to ask for a more generalized case study. This can be in the form of a blog article, one-page document, or a short video testimonial.
3: Get yourself out there
With the pandemic beginning to ease as vaccination programs kick in, now is the time to get yourself back out there, influencing your industry and being seen as a thought leader.
Networking groups are a great way to deepen your relationships with existing clients, industry leaders, and potential new prospects. If you spend the time nurturing relationships, you’ll increase your chances of discovering new opportunities in the very early stages of inception.
A wide range of networking sessions exist; these range from structured business meeting breakfasts to cocktail evenings. If you prefer a more professional environment to a social occasion, plenty of industry conferences or seminars have time specifically for developing new relationships.
Even if you can’t invest the time to network in person regularly, virtual networking offers the next best thing. Organizations such as Business Networking International provide the ability to connect virtually wherever you are based.
Their sessions are structured to give every participant the best chance of pitching their services to the other members. Attending regularly allows you to foster longer relationships and see what hot topics people are talking about. It’s a strong opportunity for one of your existing services, or present the opportunity to develop something new to meet popular demands.
If you are a member of any local networking groups that have not yet gone virtual, you could even offer to be the host for some of their digital events. This will give you good visibility and a means of working more closely with people you are hoping to sell to over time.
The virtual events can take any form, from a speed dating style session in which all members pitch their business in a short time slot, to fireside chats – popular events with a panel of experts discussing a particular topic. Alternatively, you could have an open room with a couple of issues to get the ball rolling, and make virtual introductions as the host. You could even organize virtual cocktail sessions or wine tasting. Again, keep work off the formal agenda, but use the sessions to network and build new connections to follow up later.
You can also use some of the content from your virtual network efforts to boost your presence on social media. For instance, take a quick screenshot of the session (with other participants’ consent, of course) and produce a short write-up of the session’s topics for LinkedIn. Use this as a call to action to invite new members to join or contribute ideas for discussion.
By carrying out these simple actions, you can position yourself as a thought leader, as well as a prominent figure in your industry. Best of all, apart from some modest travel and expenses, the only thing you have to invest in is some of your time.
4: Build your database
The next step of marketing on a budget is to figure out how to keep your contacts organized. This is important, as the last thing you want to happen is to lose all the effort of building new connections, or losing track of old ones again.
The most straightforward way to organize your contacts is to add them to a spreadsheet. This may sound manual, but it costs nothing and is a good way of managing communications. Then, later down the line, when you are ready to introduce a CRM system, you can easily import them by saving the Excel file as a .csv file.
The trick with contact building is to start small. If you don’t, you can quickly become obsessed with building contacts – without ever getting round to contacting them.
To avoid this, try to discipline yourself with the two tasks. If you have an hour set aside for prospecting, use 30 minutes of it for building contacts in your Excel sheet, and the remaining time for actually reaching out to them. You can create some templated emails and LinkedIn InMail messages to save time (but always make sure you personalize them with the contact’s name and other reminders, such as how you found them).
There are all kinds of ways to build your contacts. Tools such as RocketReach allow you to search for communications according to their industry, job title, location, and other criteria. From this, you can find professional email addresses and LinkedIn profiles for each exciting contact. You can also save lists to optimize your time and revisit connections.
It may sound obvious, but you should also Google businesses near you. Even if your firm sells nationally or internationally, local presence can still count for a lot with some people. Use the ‘near me’ search functionality to target whichever firms best fit your MSP’s existing customer base, or simply approach them based on their proximity to you.
5: Harness the power of LinkedIn
Whether you have a Premium license or not, LinkedIn is a goldmine of contacts and buyer information. If you have not been using it to its full potential, now is the time to start.
If you have traditionally used LinkedIn to connect only with people you have met in person, this is a start – but there is so much more you can do. Start by using your existing first-degree connections to see who else they are connected with. Then, contact anyone who looks like a good fit for your business and tell them how you are mutually acquainted. They will also see that they are already a second-degree connection with you.
Also, check out your existing clients on LinkedIn. You will be able to see their list of connections, so look through that for good fits. If there is anyone you would like a relationship with, ask your client if they would be willing to make an introduction.
If you did decide to invest in LinkecontactsdIn prospection, a couple of tools give you a headstart. LinkedIn Sales Navigator enables you to capitalize on enhanced search capabilities. You will also have the ability to create saved lists of accounts and contacts to optimize your time while building knowledge of your buying personas’ behavior.
Tools such as LinkedHacker or Dux-Soup allow you to automate the power of LinkedIn to your advantage. With them, you can pre-target potential prospects that meet your criteria. The platforms then automate the connection requests and follow-up messages, meaning you only focus on those who accept the invitation.
6: Put your newfound contacts to good use
When you have compiled a new database, target your contacts with some relevant communications. If it isn’t possible to follow up with each of them on an individual basis all the time, use an email automation tool such as Mailchimp or Zoho with a free starter plan.
With those SaaS services, you will be able to import your contacts securely. You can design customized email campaigns for them depending on the main topic of interest you think they will have.
For example, prospects in the financial services industry may be interested in how an MSP can help them achieve regulatory compliance for data protection. Alternatively, firms of architects may like to know how you can help their users work securely and efficiently using cloud apps to collaborate with third parties.
As you see, so many ways to build new leads for MSPs are out there – and they don’t break the bank. Even with a very modest investment, you can quickly become a leader in your own industry and take command of the discussions.
Some additional investment in a few tools to help you automate and embrace the power of platforms such as LinkedIn will take your networking efforts to even greater heights.
From this, you will not just generate leads, but you can use the platform to guide people on their IT strategies and the need to secure their firms. In other words, if you make the right connections and produce the right messaging, you will not only get new leads but create ones that did not even exist before.
As you put time into prospecting, the important thing is to keep an organized tracker of your newly-found contacts. Use a column in your Excel sheet to keep detailed notes about what you have spoken with your reference about. For clarity, use a separate column to track the following steps and your progress against those. This may sound simple, but if you are handling tens or hundreds of leads simultaneously, it can be easy to lose track of even the hottest leads.
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I’ve created an Excel database where I am constantly adding new, potential leads. I go through them from time to time and contact them 1-2 times each year. Sometimes it’s just to say hello. We have a current client whom I talked to for almost 4 years before he decided to use our services. He just said we were the only company that was there all the time, that talked to him and wanted to see how he was doing.
I totally agree! I would love it for people/companies to stay in touch without trying to something necessarily. Just say hello, happy birthday and whatnot. Show that you care and actually care. People will know and some of them will reward such behavior.
As a small company, we aren’t there yet when it comes to organizing webinars to showcase our existing work. Although we are small, we do have a few existing clients that love our work and we could and probably should showcase this. I’m just a bit afraid to ask my clients to talk about us; wouldn’t this be too much? Or am I just overreacting?