Information Technology (IT) companies that provide managed services generally describe themselves as managed service providers (MSPs). They are engineering companies at heart. In the early stages, a real focus on providing service brought enough referrals from happy customers to start the company growing. But, marketing a technology company is very different than providing service. To really succeed over the long term, MSPs need a growth strategy beyond the referral base. They need a process of finding and converting new customers. The difficulty is that most potential customers are already working with someone, and there is no visible trigger as to when a company will switch providers. It takes a creative strategy and commitment of time and money to raise awareness of their service.
The following tips will help you create and launch a successful MSP lead generation plan:
Instead of trying to go out and find the customer, help the customers come to you. There are a number of ways to do this, but a good inbound marketing plan involves content rich blogs and a website that ranks high for common search terms. A good inbound marketing company is invaluable to help with this process. Focus on developing content that solves your customers most pressing problems and not on the technology itself. Customers do not care about the technology, they care about their problems. It will take time for the leads to start arriving, but once your plan starts to work, you should see an exponential increase in potential customers asking for help.
With the advent of Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin you have a platform to publish and distribute the content you produce. If used right, Social Media is a distribution channel through which you can communicate with potential customers in an open discussion. Social media allows customers to put a face to the people who are helping solve their technical problems. Instead of “that guy at that company,” you become “Bob,” the nice guy who knows how to fix their problems. Adding a social context to your business helps current customers build a bond with you and provides another arrow in your MSP lead generation quiver.
Remember, you are the expert in all things dealing with technology. Holding monthly live webinars for your customers and potential customers while giving them a chance to have their questions answered in a no pressure environment is extremely powerful. It positions you differently in their mind, and it becomes a great platform to build additional content. You can record the webinars, and post them on your website, YouTube, and other platforms. They will cement you in the eyes of your customers as the place to go with their questions. The only thing you ask in return is that they provide their name and e-mail address.
Tech conferences provide an opportunity to hand out a brochure and a trinket with your company’s name on it, but more importantly you have a chance to look future customers in the eye and tell them how your company is different than most other IT support companies. Make sure and get your hands on every business card or contact number you can. Follow up in a methodical manner in the weeks and months after the conference. Take advantage of the evenings to socialize, and make new friends you can later convert into business.
Build a List
The main success criteria of all of your marketing should be growing a list of potential customers. A list of e-mail addresses is one of the most important items a business can have, no matter if you’re selling managed services or light bulbs. Using an e-mail list as a source of MSP lead generation is a great way to provide tips, newsletters, special services, or discounts to your potential customers. It is important that you build the list organically. They should ‘opt-in’ and make sure you have an easy method for the people on your list to unsubscribe. You don’t want to be accused of spamming.
As an IT specialist, you'll want to use a combination of all the tips listed here to create a comprehensive lead generation plan. Inbound marketing, webinars, customer lists, and technical conferences are all important parts of any MSP lead generation plan. Once you create the plan, make sure you stick to it and be prepared for the boom in your business that’s sure to follow. If you waiver when times get a bit more challenging, results will surely suffer.
Learn more about inbound and discover some tactical techniques to improve your marketing in our ebook, The 30 Greatest Technology Marketing Tips, Tricks & Ideas.