Managed service provider (MSP) software is an IT service platform that manages a predefined set of services for clients, such as IT, HR, and data storage. It works as a virtual assistant that can be tailored to perform any customizable set of functions.
The more complex the IT environment, the greater the need for a managed service provider. As businesses have shifted to a more fluid digital infrastructure, the demand for MSP software providers has increased because MSP software is capable of handling tasks like managing various APIs, maintaining systems and servers running remotely or in hybrid clouds, and coordinating dispersed device ecosystems.
The proliferation of and high demand for MSPs in recent years makes it harder to stand out and stay competitive in a crowded market. To help you differentiate your own MSP from others, we’ve compiled a set of marketing strategies and tactics for MSPs.
Read more on CIO Insight: Succeeding in a Crowded MSP Marketplace
What Is MSP Marketing?
MSP marketing encompasses the activities that promote your MSP’s services in an effort to retain current customers and attract new ones. It involves cultivating and demonstrating a deep understanding of customer needs and how your particular MSP fulfills them. MSP marketing entails developing a marketing plan, running ad campaigns, creating content, and performing demos and sales pitches, to name just a few examples.
4 Strategies and Tactics for MSP Marketing
Identify Your Target Audience
Identifying your ideal customer profile is an important exercise because it’s the starting point from which all subsequent marketing decisions and actions emanate. Consider the type(s) and size(s) of the businesses you want to serve. Here are some key points to consider about your target customer:
- Company size
- Challenges and pain points
- Buying cycle
- Where they grow their network and find information
Unless your MSP business is brand new, your target audience doesn’t have to be entirely imaginary. In fact, having ample data on past and current customers presents a goldmine of information to establish your MSP’s strengths and opportunities for improvement.
After narrowing in on a niche, whether that’s a particular demographic, industry, or sub-industry, think about what specific, relevant content you can supply and where to effectively do so.
Feed Relevant Content
In order to get your target audience’s attention, you’ll need to not only identify who that audience is, but also focus on their needs and challenges; these will drive your content marketing strategy. Address how your MSP meets the particular challenges that your ideal customer faces. Be sure to do so with as much verifiable, quantifiable data as possible.
Engage your target audience through various channels, such as blog posts, email marketing, YouTube, podcasts, and don’t forget events — in-person or virtual.
Depending on the specificity of the target audience, an omnichannel approach that casts a wide net may not be as effective. In that case, consider the specific spaces where your target is likely to consume content.
Build Your Brand
To cut through the noise, you need to make your name memorable in the minds of customers. That means building positive emotional associations with your brand. Build your brand by:
- Focusing on any proprietary tools or services that you provide and others don’t
- Ensuring that every interaction with your brand is consistent in look, feel, and tone
- Starting conversations on social media that are pertinent to your industry
- Posting regularly to social media outlets with a scheduler like Hootsuite
- Building an online community
Building on the previous step of identifying your target audience, setting up an e-commerce portal on your site is a powerful way to leverage your knowledge of customer subsets and their respective needs.
Benefits of MSP e-commerce to customers
- Saves time
- Customers know exactly what they’re getting, when, and for how much
- Self-service empowers the buyer to remain in control of when, what, and how they buy
Benefits of MSP e-commerce to your business
- Shortens and accelerates the sales cycle
- Enables sales and marketing to focus on more traditional tactics for customers who do want personal contact
- Provides data on browsing and purchasing patterns
- Employees from a variety of customer touchpoints can refer clients to the sales portal
On your MSP’s site, you can pitch specific service tiers or bundles and use analytics to recommend other services that similar customers also purchased. Analytics on user behavior, such as what services customers put in their cart, provide information about what services they’re considering. This, in turn, can inform targeted ads that drive them back to your site to complete the transaction.
Displaying your services in an e-commerce format empowers buyers to remain in control of the process, as they will know exactly what they’re getting and how much it will cost.
Which Tactics Will You Employ to Improve Your MSP Marketing?
The MSP market is a crowded one. Therefore, a well thought-out marketing plan is a solid and necessary starting point. At the very least, it needs to define your target customer and clearly communicate your MSP’s solutions to their problems.
Ultimately, the industry your MSP operates in will be a driving factor in determining which of these tactics to adopt. Persistence, creativity, and curiosity will serve your MSP well. As your marketing team experiments with the combination of messages and channels, be sure to track and analyze results to find those that most effectively convey your brand.