Louis Gudema

AUTHOR: Louis Gudema, Founder of Bullseye Marketing

An MSP that has been in business for even a few years has considerable marketing assets that most are not taking advantage of. These are like having cash stored in a shoebox beneath your bed: it’s readily available and you could reap significant business and profits by taking advantage of it. Companies can often take advantage of these for very little money and start seeing results in just a few months.

[Assets] are like having cash stored in a shoebox beneath your bed: it’s readily available and you could reap significant business and profits by taking advantage of it.

 

Let’s consider them one by one.

Your customers

All business, and all marketing, starts with a profound understanding of the customer. And this requires listening (the most important skill in business if not life). Since you’re running a service business you may think that you’re close to your customers and understand them, but after having done hundreds of customer interviews for companies I have yet to find an owner or president/CEO who was not somewhere between surprised and shocked by what their customers actually think and feel.

I have yet to find an owner or president/CEO who was not somewhere between surprised and shocked by what their customers actually think and feel.

 

Most customer conversations are either sales or service conversations, not listening conversations, but if instead, you set aside 30 minutes to ask customers questions like:

>> Who else did you consider when you chose us? Why did you choose us?

>> Is our performance living up to your expectations? If not, what could we do to improve it?

>> What websites or publications do you get your professional updates/information from?

>> What’s going on in your business and what are your biggest challenges? How are you dealing with them? How could we help?

There are more questions to ask, and the most important thing to remember is that this is a conversation. Follow up on their responses; probe.

Your current customers should also be the easiest and least expensive (and, therefore, highest profit) group to close more business with.

 

Your current customers should also be the easiest and least expensive (and, therefore, highest profit) group to close more business with. Assuming that they like your work, you should be able to upsell them to additional products and services. Do you have account executives who regularly check in with customers to find out what’s new with them and to let them know what you have to offer? Are you hosting special events for current customers? Do you have a dedicated area of your website to make it easier for them to work with you? All of these and more can quickly add dollars to your bottom line.

 

RELATED: How to Grow your MSP Faster

Your website and messaging

When someone first hears about your company, your website will be the first place that they go to. It must instantly communicate your professionalism and what you do. Ideally, it will also be promoting your upcoming webinars, blog posts, and other content.

Based on your customer conversations and your services, you also need messaging that is clear and compelling. Most MSPs do more or less the same thing, so most attempts at communicating differentiation through marketing aren’t effective because (1) the customer doesn’t care about that difference, (2) everyone claims it (“we provide better service”), or (3) the message is not communicated in a memorable way often enough to stick.

One proven differentiator for MSPs is when they pick a particular market segment to focus on: if you can communicate that you’re the expert MSP for (pick your industry: Dentists? Accountants? Small businesses? Manufacturers?) in (pick your geographic area) that may be a meaningful differentiator that you could make stick. And that kind of focus can make all of your marketing more effective.

Website conversion experience

When you use email, paid ads, or other devices to ask someone to do something like sign-up for a webinar or download a white paper – or even just contact us – when they do that, in marketing-speak it’s called a “conversation”. Your website needs to have obvious and easy conversion pages (often called landing pages) whose sole purpose is to get people to convert; the writing, images, and design of a landing page by itself can increase conversions by 100% or more. Other conversion devices include pop-up chat windows, which have been very effective for some companies.

99% or more of people who visit a website do so without making contact; with desirable offers and robust conversion experiences you can get contact information from more site visitors and get conversations started with them.

Email list

After your website, your email lists may be your most valuable marketing asset. Email is far more effective than unpaid social media posts for generating responses; the consulting firm McKinsey estimates that it’s 40X more effective. Yet time after time when I ask companies how often they email customers and prospects they say something like, “Oh, we send them a message around the holidays.”

Leading tech companies send emails to their customers and prospects once or twice a week

 

Leading tech companies send emails to their customers and prospects once or twice a week. You may not have the people or content to send emails that frequently, but almost certainly you should be emailing customers far more than you are today – and far more than you’re comfortable with.

You can also use your email lists to target paid social media ads. For example, on LinkedIn you upload a list as a Matched Audience, LinkedIn matches your emails to its members, and then you can target them with your ads. Facebook calls it a Custom Audience.

Remarketing

Remarketing is when you show ads to people who have recently come to your website. This is a great audience of people who may be especially interested in buying soon. And the ads can be tailored based on which pages they visited. Remarketing ads can improve the results from other marketing programs by 50% or more. Some people will tell you that they’re creepy or don’t like remarketing ads, that they feel like they’re being followed around the Internet, but check them out. They tend to be highly effective, and they don’t cost much.

Marketing tends to be most effective when people see the message and offers in 4-6 different places. Using all of the programs described above you could have a program with:

>> Targeted emails

>> Social media ads on LinkedIn, Facebook, and perhaps other social sites targeting the same people

>> People coming to your website and finding compelling messaging and an easy, effective conversion experience

>> Remarketing ads on other websites showing your message to those website visitors.

You’re on your way.

Sales and marketing collaboration

Another asset that you have is your sales team and creating optimal collaboration between sales and marketing. This starts by them agreeing, in writing, on who the customer is that you’re pursuing, what they are interested in, why they buy, and who is responsible for generating leads.

Typically both sales and marketing have responsibility for generating leads

 

Typically both sales and marketing have responsibility for generating leads, and you also need to define how leads will be handled. For example, if marketing gives sales a hot lead that may be interested in buying now, sales should follow up on that within 10 minutes. (The difference between responding in 10 minutes or an hour is huge.) But a lead that’s not as urgent can be responded to in, for example, four hours. Even less urgent leads may have a one-day response time.

Marketing and sales should meet weekly to review how these responsibilities are going. In slow or busy seasons you may want to adjust targets and responsibilities.

Marketing and sales can also carry out programs aimed at target accounts: 25 big accounts, say, that you would like to close in the next six months. Using the email/target ads/website pages/remarketing program described above, combined with sales outreach, can be very successful.

These are just some of the ways that you can jumpstart your business by taking better advantage of your existing marketing assets in the first phase of Bullseye Marketing. Next month we’ll talk about the second phase.

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Louis Gudema helps B2B companies grow faster as a fractional head of marketing and marketing strategist.