From The Expert Feature Article
June 07, 2013

MSP Marketing 101: Q&A with GFI MAX's Chris Martin

MSP Today interviewed GFI MAX’s Chris Martin to discuss the vital role marketing plays for MSPs, and ways that MSPs can improve their marketing exposure and strategies to increase their business.

MSP Today: How important is marketing for MSPs?

Martin: Marketing tends to be the biggest unknown for MSPs. They’re good at tech, and can sell really well as they adopt an advisor role. But they take time to learn to package, price, productize and market a service and a business. The ones that grow the quickest are the most commercially adept.

MSP Today: Do they always need to seek outside help?

Martin: They tend to listen to their PSA/RMM vendor (if they have one) and dip in and out of their leadership material. They’ll hardly ever speak to other people in the same position on their patch, so this leaves them hungry for information and leadership from somebody who’s not prescriptive about what they should do (for good reasons, they’ve adopted particular models/practices and revolution is difficult as they’re busy).

MSP Today: How do they find this help?

Martin: By reaching out to their PSA/RMM vendor in the first instance and making full use of their leadership material. The material needs to be engineered for consumption – it should not be too long and also concentrate on key themes, such as packaging, lead gen material, or service delivery. Being able to access leadership material in different formats is also important and how the PSA/RMM engages with the MSP and the ease with which the MSP gains access to that material should not be an afterthought. This is what we are doing with MSP Management – a dedicated portal for MSPs to learn more about their business, increase revenues and grow.

MSP Today: Do they need the full gamut of: PR, webinars, white papers, case studies, lead generation and advertising?

Martin: I’d say the way people want to consume this material is changing – white papers are a bit dry and not everyone has the time to go through lengthy materials. Folks want engaging material, such as webinars, presentations and videos. But they’ll still need case studies (just in a different format), marketing, selling help and so on. Engagement can take different forms. For example: I’d pick a guy who was best at SEM – get a three-minute ‘tops of the wave’ chat with him. Make a series of these covering all topics, then using a voting system for MSPs to vote for these three-minute talks. Then I’d ask the host to do a deeper dive around the top 20 (maybe use chipin to reward the presenter).

MSP Today: Any quick advice in any of these marketing techniques?

Martin: If I were advising an MSP on marketing their services, the focus would be around content. I’d produce 1 minute videos on particular IT topics in an engaging, topical, humorous fashion (but the hidden payload would be our company is busy and continually being picked by local companies to look after their IT). I’d sprinkle these on my site and distribute them by social media (of course, I’d focus on ‘camping on’ sensible keywords for SEO advantage). Also, in my experience in growing one of these companies, the fundamental lesson is this: touching 100 customers 10 times rather than touching 1000 customers once. That is, you have got to be committed to working customers through contact details to warm them up over time.