Your Competitors Can Help You Market Your MSP
Instead of relying on your ‘gut’ to determine which MSP services to market, take a page from what your competitors are doing. Stop guessing which technology is in demand; by studying your competitors you might be able to gain insight into what you are lacking, or how you need to stand out.
Let’s go over a few ways that you can collect this kind of data.
Research Market Trends
One question we often get from MSPs is, how to establish which services to promote? The data collected with your Google Analytics and Google Search Console can provide some valuable insights into what potential customers are interested in based on their search patterns. This information allows you to tailor your message based on what potential leads are searching for. When you utilize this information, your marketing message can reflect their needs and establish your MSP as a resource to solve their technology concerns.
Previously, we discussed using your analytics to follow marketing trends and develop personas to help you put yourself in the shoes of potential leads. Doing so will help you anticipate what services they may be interested in. While this is a great visualization technique, you are limited to what knowledge your customers have about their technology needs and what they are searching for as solutions.
For example, if they have security concerns, they may be searching for virus protection, which makes sense, but they will be equally served by investing in a BDR or UTM device. The thing is, they don't know what these services and tools are or how they can help their business, meaning they won't be searching for them. The goal of a marketing plan for your MSP should provide the services they are looking for and anticipate the services they need.
Research Your Industry for Trends
Another source of marketing trends can be gleaned by evaluating what services enterprise-level managed IT providers are focusing on. By following what the enterprise-level MSPs are focusing on, you can gain the insights you need to help guide you on technology trends. This will allow you to develop your marketing to feature those services most likely to attract and convert leads.
For example, suppose the trend is going towards cloud-based infrastructure design and management. In that case, you should not only feature these services prominently on your website but offer content on these topics for marketing purposes. It would help if you created campaigns designed to inform potential customers of the benefits of migrating to the cloud and use social media to share your insights.
Right now, it’s pretty obvious—there has been a strong focus on higher-end cybersecurity and compliance, and a huge push for remote work and collaboration during the pandemic. It’s all about safety and efficiency right now, for most areas.
How to Gain Industry Insight?
The best way to gain industry insight is to become an active member of the industry. Taking the coronavirus into account, most industries have postponed, if not eliminated, the traditional method of in-person workshops, conventions, and other types of face-to-face wisdom-sharing. Many opportunities to learn from your peers are significantly reduced.
Fortunately, those venues aren't the only way to communicate and gain insights from professional organizations and industry leaders. Here are some ways to do so, using the digital landscape to your advantage.
Use your social media to connect with industry leaders
As a tool to connect to other businesses, Linkedin is a great way to meet other MSPs for wisdom-sharing experiences and to discover trends. Doing so will allow you to gain the insights you need to target your services to the market as it is or will be and not where you think it is. Despite the value it brings, many MSPs don't utilize LinkedIn to the fullest advantage.
Also, don't be afraid to contribute. If you want to gain insight from your peers, you will have to give some. Unless you're committed to actively participating in the conversation, you will never achieve the knowledge you seek. Social media is an engagement tool, and you need to put the social in social media.
Visit your competitors' websites
The best way to see if your selection of services is viable and in demand is by examining what your competitors are offering and actively marketing. Are they writing blogs or making social media posts or in any way promoting their services? It's easy enough to have a service page on your website about Microsoft 365, so you can say you have one. However, it is another to spend resources to promote it and plan to bring it to potential customers' attention. The whole purpose of the content on your website should be to drive traffic to your website so that you can convert them into qualified leads.
Discover opportunities to market your MSP
By combining the insight you've gained from your wisdom-sharing with which services your competitors are promoting, you will be able to determine which managed IT services are in demand (remember, make it local!).
Content is King! Use your content to differentiate yourself from the other MSPs, filling the gaps they have left open. For example, suppose cloud computing is where the industry is heading due to remote working, yet your competitors only mention it in passing. In that case, that's your opportunity to show your expertise by offering helpful advice. Once you establish yourself, you will generate the leads you need to grow your MSP. One thing to keep in mind is that this process will take time. Content marketing and the corresponding SEO plan can take months to gain traction.
Finally, be yourself
When we suggest gaining insights from your peers (including competitors), we don't mean copying the look and feel of their website, their blogs, or any of their content. Any insights you acquire must be strained through your filter—your brand. Your message needs to represent your ideas and approach to managed IT, and no one else's. If your message isn't authentic, potential leads will see through it and not have the confidence in you to take a chance on your services. This is why it is essential to utilize social proof: reviews and testimonials, case studies, and other examples of your expertise; verified by your satisfied customers.
Your MSP is unique. Yes, you and your competitors sell similar if not the same services; however, how you implement your services and conduct yourself is what makes you different. Your job is to let potential customers know this, and the only way you can do this is if you tell them.
The only way for that to happen, is if you market your MSP.