If you have ever seen the movie Tommy Boy, you’ve heard him struggle with a sales line: “You can get a good look at a T-bone by sticking your head up a bull’s ____, but you’d rather take the butcher's word for it.” I was deep in thought on this colorful quote the other day following an afternoon of first-time calls with potential clients.
Every single customer that signs up with Pronto Marketing talks to someone, generally me. We serve over 1,100 active MSP clients, and so as the VP of BizDev I have talked to hundreds and hundreds of MSPs on their way to signing up over the years.
Each of them is looking to use marketing to grow their Business. Most have been frustrated with their own efforts to execute on their marketing strategies and achieve measurable growth. They feel they’ve gone looking for a T-bone steak the hard way, and they are finally ready to talk to the butcher.
But how does that make us the butcher? By speaking to every potential client, I learn what tools folks are using and what results they have seen. I monitor trends, the cyclic nature of the business, and which self-professed marketing guru is peddling what Kool-Aid of the day. What I have found over the years is that the basics of MSP marketing hold true no matter what.
Well, what’s first, before all others? Lead Channels: How do customers come to your door and what path do they take to get into your sales funnel?
For most MSP marketing there are four main lead channels, and the volume of leads each channel represents is fairly consistent from business to business. A couple items are often overlooked: what you need to be doing from a marketing perspective to support each channel, and also which channel is most likely to move the needle in terms of growth.
With all that said, let’s dive in:
65-75% of new business for MSPs (and most businesses)
The first, best, favorite, easiest to convert and least expensive channel comprising most (75%) leads for most MSPs is referral. Nobody recommends anybody to anybody in this day and age without that person immediately going on their phone/laptop/tablet to check you out.
To this referred lead your website needs to be unique, compelling, and commensurate with the type of business they expect to work with. My phrase for this is “your website needs to ‘wow and check the boxes.’” It needs to assuage any fears and make the impression that you're going to pick up the phone, that you're the type of business to partner with. Also, your website needs to give this new visitor a clear and easy path to conversion.
Remember most customers make a decision within seconds of first going on site, so that first impression is important.
So now that you can successfully land a referral lead, how do you scale this beautiful pipeline? Do you have a well-advertised referral program? Do you give your current customers a valuable referral bonus? Is netting a new client each month worth a only a gift card or something more?
After working with so many MSPs, I am often surprised to find that the vast majority I talk to do not have a referral incentive. So get one, and remind your customers early and often that you appreciate their business and give freely and generously for putting their word on the line and referring you as a vendor.
#2 Direct Knowledge
10-15% of new business for MSPs
The second most productive and second least expensive lead channel is what I call “direct knowledge.” These leads met you, or got your business card, or worked with you at a previous business, or got forwarded your email newsletter or saw your truck. Or maybe they just happen to pass by your office every day.
They're looking directly for you, and when they are finally ready to talk they go straight to your website to make sure you are who they thought you were.
In the same vein as the referral channel, they have a good feeling about you and you've got a few seconds to validate that positive feeling by making a really good first impression. Wow them, check their boxes, and give them an easy and obvious path for conversion via a call/click/or signup call-to-action.
In this case, additional engagement tools such as informational videos and/or ebook downloads are even more beneficial to maximize lead capture opportunities if they need more convincing.
Last, never stop networking. Sponsor a little league team why don’t you! Someone somewhere is going to be glad he or she met you or saw your logo.
10% of new business for MSPs
The third and much more elusive (read expensive) channel is organic. When leads need someone just like you but don’t know who you are, they’re going to do what everybody does: Google it.
A few reasons why these people are pushed to this point: their current provider is not picking up the phone, they haven’t been able to get whatever they need working, or they don't feel like they can handle a new technology demand put on their business.
Googling is a reflex. Even if they already think they know where they are going, they are still going to do a search and look through the first page or two of results. If a site’s particular message, look, feel, or feature resonates with them, it's going to go on their short list of vendors to call.
It is rare for companies to retain a new IT provider without looking at some competitive bids, so you always have a chance to make a pitch. And to make a pitch, you need to be on that first or at least the second page of results.
As a very first step, Google yourself. Where are you coming up in searches that your customers would use? If you are not coming up, you have some options on how to improve.
You can pay someone to do some strategic SEO work for you. But you generally will get what you pay for so no, paying $99 will not get you to #1.
If you want to go the do-it-yourself route, you can start guest blogging and generating links back to your site. You can also explore less competitive keywords and try to target them, especially in major metro areas. For example, "IT support Midtown" is much more specific (and potentially more likely to convert) and way less competitive than "IT support New York."
The simple point here is that improving your organic visibility is a continual task. So learn where you stand today and start working to improve it. A little can go a long way!
#4 Everything Else
5-10% of new business for MSPs
Last but not least and by far the most expensive is everything else. This comprises all other marketing activities: from smile and dial, to paid advertising like AdWords, to burning up shoe leather by pounding the pavement. I don't mean to minimize this and say that the 5% contribution to your business growth is unimportant.
For most businesses, this 5% growth is the difference between The Red and the Black. It's that one incremental high-value customer. This extra, hard-fought growth is also where people risk overspending their time and money. My advice here is to first invest in the basics of referral, direct, and organic and then focus on "everything else" because the "basics" account for 95% of inbound leads and are quite frankly the low hanging fruit.
When investing in "everything else" you need to maximize your chances of conversion and put yourself in the best position to see positive ROI. That means custom landing pages that are specific to your advertising campaigns (don't send traffic directly to your homepage), call tracking, and tools like Google Analytics to collect data and assess engagement and conversions.
In summary, everybody you find from every lead channel is going to go on your site and check you out. Have a good website: be unique and be prepared to convert each lead.
Do not take the “easy ones” for granted. Continue to invest where you are already succeeding to ensure you continue to succeed.
If you're ready to talk to a butcher about your MSP marketing, schedule a call here. I'll help you find the easy way to seeing about a T-bone steak.
This post first appeared on Internet Presence Management Blog | Pronto Marketi, please read the originial post: here