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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are the foundation of your MSP business. They are essential to building strong client relationships and must be clear, reasonable and well-constructed.

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Blog Topics for Managed Services Providers

Posted March 19, 2014by Nate Teplow

blogging_tipsIt seems like everyone is talking about why you need to blog more these days (so naturally, we decided to write a blog about it). If you’ve done any research on online marketing, blogging is sure to have come up as key component of your marketing strategy. You may be tired of hearing it, but blogging really does work for small businesses. Every managed services provider (MSP) should think about starting a blog. Here are some reasons why and some topics to get you started.

Blogging may sound intimidating, but it’s actually very easy to get started. There are a number of different platforms out there that are easy to use (Wordpress, Blogger, Quora, Tumblr – and even social platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook can be used as blogs).

The stats are pretty compelling too:

  • Companies that blog have 97% more inbound links. Inbound links mean people are linking to your website, which tells Google to rank you higher in search results.
  • B2B bloggers generate 67% more leads.Who doesn’t want more leads?
  • Websites with blogs have 434% more indexed pages. Again, this helps with search engine optimization because Google has more content to look at and base your ranking on.
  • 61% of US consumers have made a purchase based on a blog post.
  • 90% of consumers find customer content useful.
  • 70% of consumers learn about a company through articles rather than ads. People would rather learn about your company on their own time, rather than you blasting them with phone calls and ads.

You can find some more great stats on the benefits of blogging here.

Clearly, blogging has huge potential for MSPs. Yet, there’s a difference between blogging and successful blogging. Knowing how to strategically plan your blog posts will help you meet your goals faster, and a lot of this comes from choosing the right topics to blog about.

Pick Your Topic

Choosing fresh, relevant topics is integral for building a successful blog following. Start by thinking about what your target audience would search for online and what they’d be interested in reading. The goal of this post, for example, is to offer helpful and relevant info for MSPs who want to build their own blog library but may not know where to start.

By sharing your knowledge or unique perspective, you’ll stand out from the crowd and boost your online visibility, showing your audience that you offer something different from your competition. The topics you choose to write about should be reflective of this expertise. You should always ask yourself, “how is this blog going to benefit my reader?”

As a note, make sure to stay objective and stay conversational in your blogs. People prefer reading factual, informative content rather than reading about your products and/or how great you are. This will give you credibility as an MSP and make your readers trust your expertise.

The other two things to remember when blogging are to be consistent (whether that’s once a week, three times a week, daily or a few times per day) and to make sure you measure your blog results (page views, inbound links, traffic sources, time on page etc.). When you’re consistent, people know to come back to your blog and it helps to build SEO value. And if you don’t measure, you have no idea what’s working and what’s not.

Now that we’ve gone over the basics, here are a few topics that should help you get started, and why they are useful:

  • The Benefits of Managed Services to Small Businesses – SMBs often need help understanding the value that MSPs deliver, and this blog post would lay it all out for them. You don’t need to say why you personally would help them, but instead, demonstrate the value of managed services, how it would save them time, money and complications. Again, this is about gaining credibility as an industry expert and thought leader.
  • Why Every [insert your target audience] Should Be Using [insert service you provide] – If you specialize in IT for local doctors’ offices, explain why other practices would benefit from a specific service of yours. Again, this is about selling your niche expertise and allowing people to learn the value of a specific service. When it comes time to talking to prospects about your actual services, you will be well positioned as the solution if they’ve read your post.

Don’t use your blog posts as a hard sell though; instead, let the facts speak for themselves.

  • Technology Predictions for the Upcoming Year – SMBs rely on their MSPs to offer expert guidance for their tech needs. Posts like this show that you’re aware of all the latest and upcoming trends, and really know what you’re talking about. Plus, it’s a topic that would be of interest to SMBs, because they need help utilizing technology solutions and frequently look online for information on how to stay ahead of trends.
  • 10 IT Stats That Will Blow Your Mind! – There’s nothing more convincing than hard data, and readers love to see real facts and figures. Share some stats that clearly show how valuable IT solutions are while making readers aware of their own IT needs. Then, use those facts to paint a picture of how your services will fill that gap.
  • The Consequences of Losing Your Data – A little well-targeted fear can be a good tactic for igniting a need. After reading this blog post, SMBs will understand just why data backup is so critical... and selling your offerings to them becomes much easier. Again, you don’t need to sell your services within the blog post, but perhaps put a call to action at the end with something along the lines of “Get help backing up your data”, which leads to a phone number or contact form.

This list is just a sampling, of course. The important thing is to choose topics that will really bring value to your target audience. Think about the kinds of things that they’re interested in or questions they need answered. If you write compelling posts that answer these questions, people will share them around, which helps you gain exposure.
 

How Blogs Sell Your Business

So lets say you’ve been writing blogs and people start reading your content, which is great! But let me guess your next question…how does this actually help you sell your services?

Blogs are great because they help establish you as an expert and build trust among your prospects. If your prospects are consistently reading your content, they will begin to recognize your brand and trust your advice. Familiarity is key when it comes to selling your services, and if people are reading your blog, you’ve already stacked the odds in your favor. Potential customers are also much more likely to contract with an expert versus someone they are unfamiliar with. 

Blogs can also be a great tool for your sales team. If you’re publishing useful content, it gives your sales people a nice excuse to get in touch with old prospects. Sending useful information to old leads is a good way to re-engage with them in a non-invasive manner. Have your reps say something like

Hey (first name). We just published this blog article and I thought you might find it useful based on our conversation a few months back. Let me know if you have any questions.

This helps your reps come across as helpful, yet allows them to get back in touch with old opportunities.

Remember, the purpose of blog posts isn’t to run your own marketing campaign; readers quickly grow tired of endless self-promotion that doesn’t offer any other depth or useful contributions. Instead, blog posts should position you as an expert in your field by sharing proven best practices and valuable information. It’s never too late to get started with blogging, and if you stick with it, you’ll be sure to see the results.

Have you started a blog? Are you running into any issues? Let us know how it’s gone for you.

 

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Nate Teplow is a Sr. Marketing Programs Manager at Continuum, responsible for overseeing Continuum partner communication initiatives, partner success campaigns and helping drive increased adoption of the Continuum platform. Nate's experience spans inbound marketing, content strategy, marketing communications and B2B lead generation. A proud Miami Hurricane alumni (whose football team is finally BACK), Nate enjoys staying active, traveling to new places and performing A/B tests.

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