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Why MSPs Struggle With Marketing

by Nathan Harding
| 26 Jun 2020

When it comes to marketing, MSP providers tend to face a particular set of problems.

By far the biggest of these is a lack of clear positioning, with many MSPs finding themselves in the category of a ‘me too’ provider.

Essentially, this means they are trying to market to everybody. And as the old saying goes, if you market to everybody, you’re actually marketing to nobody!

You only need to take a look at a handful of MSP websites to notice the majority simply answer the same few standard questions … this is what we do, this is how long we’ve been doing it, this is who our people are.

There seems to be a reluctance to tailor the messaging to suit a specific audience. Instead, the messaging seems to suggest ‘we can help everyone!’ 

As an alternative to making broad claims about what you do and who you support, consider what you can say that will help you stand apart from the crowd.

This will assist you in avoiding being a choice of MSP provider, and transform you into being the choice!

Identify your niche

One way to achieve this is by picking a niche or specialisation to go after.

There are a couple of ways you can do this. The first is to focus on a vertical or industry that you would like to work with, whether that be healthcare, retail, government etc. You can then position yourself as the expert MSP provider for all clients in that space. 

Alternatively, you could pick a horizontal or particular technology such as SD WAN or cybersecurity, and position your business as the specialist provider of that technology. 

Horizontal, Vertical…or both?

A third option would be to select both a vertical and a horizontal, by picking a particular technology and then marketing that offering towards a particular industry. It is this third approach that generally results in the most cut through.

Despite offering a smaller market size, the advantage here is that if anybody in that industry is looking for that particular technology, they are more than likely to consider you as the choice of provider. 

Of course, there can be some understandable resistance to this approach. At Yo Media we debated amongst ourselves before placing our focus on the IT sector.

Initially we were hesitant, because we have strategies work across multiple industries, with expertise covering SEO, Google ads, social media and more.

So why would we limit ourselves by going after one particular sector? However, we soon realised a niche or specialisation is not where you finish, but where you start.

The important thing to remember is that taking this approach does not mean you can’t accept work from clients in other sectors. If you receive a word of mouth referral and the client is in a sector outside your area of focus, you are obviously not going to turn that work down.

What we’re talking about here is simply how you’re positioning yourself externally.

And it’s an approach that we know works! The moment our marketing started talking specifically to the IT sector, we noticed a significant upturn in demand for our services.

Similarly, once our clients started implementing this approach, they started to get more cut through and the leads began rolling in.

Build your team

Once you’ve picked your initial niche and started to gain momentum, you can then focus on more areas. Building a specialist team around each new area will mean your business can boast a group of experts familiar with the landscape and language of that particular space.

In turn, this group will become more efficient and effective at delivering MSP solutions, either to the chosen sector or with the chosen technology. This will allow you to continually increase the gap between yourself and your competitors.

From a client’s perspective, working with an MSP provider who can demonstrate an understanding of their sector and the issues they face will be a much more attractive proposition than one who tries to be all things to all people.

For instance, consider a retail business that needs to improve communication and networking between multiple branches. If the CEO, COO or any other decision maker within the business comes across your marketing, which clearly demonstrates an understanding of their industry, you are likely to secure your position as the choice of MSP provider.

Pick your dream customer

As a starting point, the best advice we can offer to MSPs is to sit down and think about who they want to work with. This might be a decision based on a number of criteria, including where your specialty lies, your area of interest, or the space you most enjoy working in.

Once you have a clear idea of the sector you’re targeting you can more clearly articulate the specifics of what you do and how you can add the most value. Not only that, but you are likely to enjoy much better cut through than competitors who might be taking a more scattergun approach!

Do you want to grow your MSP, but are struggling to generate enough leads, which leaves you feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and stuck?

As a former chief marketing officer at a large MSP, I understand what you’re going through.

Based on a decade of in-the-trenches experience, we developed a digital marketing plan that shows IT companies how they can grow and scale their business while avoiding missed sales opportunities, losing out to competitors and a stalled business.

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