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The Secret to MSP Growth: The MSP Marketing operating System

When you dig your roots into an industry (community), you can’t help but deeply empathise and understand the challenges of the people in it. Behind the TAMs, KPIs and turnover figures, there’s real people trying to make a real difference. Marketing, like technology, is really about people; it’s also about process.

We’ve spoken to thousands of MSPs over the years and have witnessed the whole gamut of emotions that they have when it comes to growing their business; everything from anger and hopelessness to genuine joy and excitement.

We love to see the latter and help MSPs to overcome the former by changing their growth story. Over the years, we’ve grown with our clients and the industry to discover a tried and tested formula that works, one that can reshape your MSP’s relationship to your market for years to come.

This formula is the MSP Marketing operating System (MMoS™). 

This article is going to give you three things:

  1. A proven MSP Marketing methodology that you can apply to transform your marketing and sales efforts into a conversion machine.
  2. An understanding of what it takes to achieve this worthy goal (fair warning: planning, enthusiasm and effort is a must!).
  3. Clarity on how to get started with implementing your own MMoS, one that will break the pattern and change your growth story forever.

It’s time to change your MSP’s marketing story

When MSPs talk to us, they tell us these things…do any of them sound familiar?

  • My referrals are unpredictable or drying up
  • Generic agencies aren’t working for me, they don’t get it/IT
  • Pay Per Click is burning a hole in my pocket
  • My leads don’t develop into anything worthwhile
  • I’m not sure how to plan my marketing efforts and spending
  • I know better results are possible, but don’t know how to make them happen

If this resonates with you, an MMoS for your business is going to be a game-changer, giving you a systematic, smart, and well-sequenced approach that gets your MSP found, heard, and conversant with your market.

It means bang for your buck, measurable success, organic and sustainable growth, clarity on what you’re doing, and how you can delight and empower your audience. This all contributes to trust and creating conversations with the right prospects.

What Is The MMoS? How Can It Transform My MSP’s Marketing?

The MMos is three things at once: a framework, a set of principles, and a methodology for creating an MSP business that enjoys sustainable growth, driven by an MSP marketing and sales plan.

Despite market projections pointing to the robust growth of the managed services industry, the reality is that many MSPs are struggling to sell themselves on the ground. But a great plan and methodology can change that story, making the incredible value that your MSP can offer crystal-clear, compelling, and conversation-starting.

The MMoS spans the setting up your marketing fundamentals and foundation, to creating a synergistic marketing and sales machine that creates conversations and customers.

How to market your MSP successfully with an MMoS

To get your MSP off the tarmac, your MSP needs to have a system with parts that work together seamlessly. Give some thought to these pieces, how are they working in your business currently? Are they on-point, need some work, or missing entirely?

Your MSP business fundamentals: a plan for winning in your market

Wingman MMoS Fundamentals

The business fundamentals is about having an informed plan for succeeding in your market.

This is all about asking the right questions and ‘looking before you leap’ before you charge into the market! Without good fundamentals and foundations, MSPs risk pouring their time down a drain and setting their money on fire.

In a nutshell, the fundamentals will help you to 1) know your target market 2) get clear on your proposition, and 3) and communicate that proposition to your market effectively

Here’s what you need to establish your MSP’s marketing strategy fundamentals:

  • A defined and quantified target market; what verticals are they in, what size are these businesses, what do they need and value, what are the buyer personas?
  • A clear idea of what makes your MSP different from other providers
  • Where you’re going to engage your audience – what channels and locations will you find them in?
  • A clear idea of the benefits of your offering and who can best benefit from it
  • A solid business model that goings to be profitable and scalable
  • Your key messages for your audience in headers and small descriptors, based on your audience, proposition, and what makes you different

Once you know the basic whos, hows, whats, wheres and whens of your business and its marketing, you can crystalise them into a great online presence that will serve as your foundation for getting found and engaging your market.

Your MSP’s marketing foundation: your MSP website and online presence

Wingman MMoS Take Off

Your MSP’s website and online channels are your foundation for skyrocketing the following, influence and prospect conversations that your MSP has.

MSPs that have been in business for a while can really benefit from revisiting their marketing foundation; to build a strong foundation, you need to make your website and online channels an engaging conversion machine.

This is all about building an appealing and up to date MSP brand, website and wider online presence by setting up appealing and complete accounts for your business on social media channels, as well as a Bing Places and Google Business profile, alongside website analytics.

Pro tip: We have created a practical checklist for creating a converting MSP website and have helped hundreds of MSPs to get their foundation right with our popular website reviews and action plans.

With your fundamentals set up and a stand-out marketing foundation in place for your MSP, you’ll be able to use them as a launchpad for the rest of your digital marketing efforts.

Your MSP’s passive marketing: getting found and building brand awareness for your MSP

Passive marketing helps your business to get found by your audience online when they’re ready to enter the market, and gently builds your brand awareness within your market while also giving inspiration and engagement to your existing clients.

Your passive marketing involves building and improving on your:

  • Content: whether its articles, guides, reports or videos, content gets your MSP found and builds trust with your audience by giving value and deepening relationships. Don’t forget to circulate it on your social media channels!
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): Implementing keywords and SEO best practices across your digital channels and content, enabling you to get found by the right people.
  • Social Proof: Gaining and expanding on testimonials, building written and video-based case studies so that you can draw in your audience and prove your expertise.
  • PPC: Pay Per Click ads on Google and Bing brings in traffic to your website for the right keywords, and when done right, can also get leads in for your MSP!
  • Newsletters: Sharing educational content to your prospects that adds value to them while not being overtly salesy. It keeps your MSP on your prospects and clients’ minds, so that when the time is right, you’ll be in their minds.

Your MSP’s active campaigning: creating and engaging qualified leads

Wingman MMoS Active Campaigning

Combining your marketing and sales pieces to work together is the key to marketing your MSP better than your competitors and truly engaging your audience.

Active campaigning is where you get proactive about engaging your market, it involves identifying your target audience, getting data and contacting this audience to ask questions, qualify them and build a pipeline that you can nurture.

There’s a number of ways to do this, and don’t forget, you can synergise your active and passive marketing to work together!

Direct Mailings: This might be very surprising to you but the right, bold mail material can be a great way to stand out from the noise of email. The key is great design and genuine personalisation, paving the way for a warm and effective follow-up call.

Email marketing: Email still works, but like all things, the “how” is the key. Make bold, standout statements that grab attention and be swift to speak to your audinece’s pain points and needs with valuable content. This is a long-term game for your MSP, keep trust by focusing on value rather than pushing sales!

Telemarketing: Telemarketing stands the test of time because people still buy from people, this is also one of the few forms of marketing that permits you to ask questions to your prospects. Ask the right questions to the right people, build awareness of pain points, speak to them, and nurture conversations into opportunities.

LinkedIn: Often a woefully underused channel by MSPs for making and engaging with connections within your target market. A great method is to connect with the people who are opening and clicking in your emails and talking to you on the phone; when the time is right, a valuable personal message that asks little of them can open doors for your MSP.

Your influencer programme: making your MSP a thought leader in your target market

Wingman MMoS Influencer Programme

An influencer programme is about extending the circle of your MSP’s influence into the right wider circles and deepening your MSP’s gravitas in the market.

Becoming known in your industry and a go-to source of value and information is the name of the game here. Your wider marketing efforts contribute to this, especially harnessing the power of social media.

But it’s not just content, active campaigning and being proactive on social media, you can also attend conferences and speak at them, host webinars, collaborate with vendors, partners and influencers, and develop longer forms of content such as books and white papers to establish your thought leadership, helping you to truly stand out from the crowd.

Our very own Mark Copeman exemplifies the power of this approach. In his 15 years within the industry, Mark has crafted books, speaks at MSP conferences across the MSP world and hosts regular webinars and website review sessions, which all helps Wingman to connect with MSP leaders across the world.

Your MSP’s progress platform: measuring your MSP’s marketing success

Wingman MMoS Progress Platform

Measuring your MSP’s marketing will help you to not just improve your marketing, but also celebrate your progress over time!

As Peter Drucker once said, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. This is what a progress platform in your MMoS should be all about.

It involves bringing your marketing activities and data together into a unified system; one that tracks your audience’s journey with your brand from start to finish, including even your MRR clients who you can still nurture, engage and up-sell.

Here’s what you need:

  • A unified CRM platform: we use our own purpose-built CRM called RADAR, but you can also use other comprehensive CRMs as your progress platform too.
  • The right metrics: Use metrics like Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), conversion rates, campaign ROI, and Customer Life Time Value (CLTV).
  • Milestones and measuring progress:
  • Targets: measurable and realistic goals

Your sales process: building relationships, gaining business 

Wingman MMoS Sales Process

Be proactive about taking your audience on a valuable journey, be proactive, let them be co-pilots in your sales process, and make it remarkable.

Creating a sales process is more than mapping out a ‘perfect world’ set of steps you want your prospects to take, it needs to be flexible to what actually happens and what your audience wants and needs from you. The customer journey can be zig-zaggy in nature.

Clients that quickly sign MRR deals with MSPs are the exception to the rule; your prospects want to go on a few dates before getting married! So in this part of your MMoS, keep these principles in mind:

  • Right product, right time: You need to present what people want to buy and not so much what you need to sell! If you can speak to the pain points at the top of your prospects’ minds, they’re more likely to tune in and take the next step with you.
  • Land and expand: relatedly, make irresistible small offers to get your foot in the door, deliver, build trust, and deepen the commercial relationship from there.
  • Follow up! Many MSPs give their prospects too much time to ‘think about’ their offer, when really its fading into obscurity. You might feel like you’re bothering them or that some pressure is repulsive, but really, if they are thinking of doing business with you, they’ll appreciate your keen display of enthusiasm to help them. 🙂
  • Use video: Recording videos that walk through your proposals will add personality and be more engaging, while helping you to stand out. People buy from people; this added personal touch may be a little difference that makes the difference.

The human factor: what will see you through

Wingman MMoS Human Factor

Like scaling a mountain, your MSP’s marketing and sales journey is going to be an arduous but worthwhile process.

The human factor applies across the pieces of the MSP marketing process, it takes engraining patience, accountability, and persistence into your marketing strategy.

It’s par for the course and completely natural to have highs and lows on your journey to cultivating sustainable growth for your MSP; Like all good things, it takes time, attention, patience and a willingness to adapt.

Although it can’t be measured, the human factor is one of the most important pillars that you need to successfully market your MSP, it requires assigning ownership over your marketing and maintaining accountability and perseverance throughout your growth journey. 

Does Wingman use its own version of the MMoS™ with our clients?

Of course! The concept of this MMoS is based on our own experiences in helping MSPs to achieve marketing success. You can find out about the MMoS that we use to help our clients here.

Wingman MMoS Step By Step 2

The Wingman MMoS: with our corresponding MSP marketing services in yellow text. 

How do I start marketing my MSP Business using an MMoS?

Marketing your MSP is simple in principle when you know the key steps, break them down, and then take these steps one by one:

Start with your fundamentals and foundations; are they in place, and are they fit for purpose? It’s not just for MSP startups. Established MSPs that are running out of steam can also benefit from this exercise!

Create a marketing and sales plan based on your fundamentals and foundations, keeping it proportionate to your resources. It’s always possible to start … you just need to get started.

Then, focus on creating a great MSP website and online presence around your MSP’s marketing fundamentals and foundations. If you’re low on time and inspiration, our Take-Off and Jetstream services can help you to position yourself and get a great plan in place.

While you’re executing your inbound and outbound MSP marketing and sales plan, make sure you’re using the right tools and channels to market yourself effectively and track your progress along key themes such as brand awareness, prospect consideration, and sales.

Consider the human element, get prepared for an up and down (but worthwhile) journey, hold yourself and your team accountable. Become a differentiated voice and influencer, playing to the strengths of your brand, proposition, and position in your market.

As time goes by, evolve your MSP’s marketing and sales plan into a market-leading conversion machine that drives sustainable growth for your MSP. This will involve harnessing inbound, outbound and influencer based marketing techniques and making them work together.

Finally, keep learning, keep improving, and keep adapting. The MMoS is a framework that can be tailored to your managed service provider’s unique position, offering, and market.

Marketing Support for MSPs: Free Resources For Your Business

If you need a hand, Wingman has bags of expertise and content you can use to grow your MSP business, free of both charge and obligation (yes, really!). 

You can:

We’re excited to finally present our formula for MSP marketing success in an industry set to continue growing in leaps and bounds. We hope it can help you to transform your MSP’s growth story for years to come.

Until next time …

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