Are you a managed services provider (MSP) that has most of their clients within a 50-mile radius of their main operation?
If you answered yes, you are part of the majority. This is a natural phenomenon as most businesses get momentum through referrals, which generally occur locally. Information is passed along in conversations in churches, at ball fields, on playgrounds and just about anywhere else that business people may find themselves on any given day.
In an increasingly competitive IT services industry, your goal is to establish yourself as the local IT provider and grow your MSP within your local market. So, how can you successfully beat out your competition and increase market share beyond the realm of referrals?
The Key to Local MSP Marketing
The answer to the question above can be found through another question. Where do you go to find out information about potential vendors after you have received recommendations from friends and colleagues? A search engine, of course!
With Google holding almost 64 percent of the search market in the US and the majority of business related searches, it’s easy to see that when someone is looking for managed IT services providers for their business, they are doing the same thing you would. They are searching online and turning to Google to help them make a decision.
By the way, even those who are referred to you are doing the same thing. Once they hear about your business, they are looking to validate a referral by seeing if your company shows up high on the SERP (search engine result page).
How Can You Leverage Local Marketing?
You need to be taking the practice of local Internet marketing very seriously. Unfortunately, much like the world of IT, the world of Internet marketing is not a simple one to navigate. There are acronyms like SEO (search engine optimization), PPC (pay per click), SMM (social media marketing) and much more that you need to get familiar with.
Each part of the local Internet marketing puzzle is a discipline that requires specific knowledge and a willingness to invest resources like time and money in order to be successful. While it seems daunting, it can be done.
Below is a list of five major areas of local marketing that you should consider as a managed services provider looking to increase local business.
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the practice of preparing a website to rank organically for specific keywords and phrases.
In order to rank high on a results page, for your services and in your local market, you should devise an SEO strategy that includes a few core components:
- Keywords – What terms or phrases do you want to lead people to your website? This can be something like “IT service provider,” or “Office365 migration services,” or something similar. Once you identify which keywords you want to target, but sure to sprinkle them across your website.
- Local Language - While you can manage desktops and field IT issues from anywhere, you have a better chance of ranking in search engines when you focus on a specific location. Optimize your website for a few local neighborhoods, rather than tackle the entire city. You will face less competition for these keywords and get more out of your efforts.
Pro Tip: For a complete guide to on-page SEO for MSPs, click here!
2. Content Marketing
Content marketing is like the ideal employee; it’s always working for you and always searchable in cyber space. Whether you’re creating content for your site or creating content elsewhere that could rank in a search engine query, you will need to put new content out on a consistent basis to reach various prospects in the many different stages of the sales and marketing funnel. This content should relate back to your business and the issues you help clients solve. Also, the content should live behind a form on your website so you can capture the information of those who have found it organically.
In addition to content marketing, all growing MSPs should have an active and informative blog. Having a blog provides a venue for you to showcase your expertise and position yourself as a thought leader, while being invaluable to your ability to rank in the search engines. Within blog posts, you can target the keywords you’d like to rank for and localize the language for better visibility on SERPs.
The key aspects to a blog post include:
- The Title/Topic – You’ll want to choose a topic that resonates with your audience. Also, make the title engaging (like a question or a numbered list) so people are more likely to click on it.
- The Body/Content – Blog posts can take many different forms, but the body should be informative, keyword-rich (think local, too) and broken up nicely so it’s digestible for readers.
- The Call-to-Action – Always end your post with a next step! For example, offer a related article that they might be interested in, or include a link to an eBook or White Paper that goes more into detail about your topic. Having this next step, or call-to-action, will help you educate website visitors on your business and service, and eventually lead them toward a purchasing conversation.
Pro Tip: If you're just getting started, here's the MSP's guide to blogging.
4. Social Media
Social media is an essential aspect of marketing and selling your managed services. This includes sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, to name a few. First, you’ll want to determine which of these channels your target audience and prospects are using, then you can better strategize on how you can reach them in that social space.
Being active and engaging on social media (like sharing content and blog posts) can help you can raise awareness for your company, boost your reputation in your field and encourage prospects to reach out, look at your website and get to know your business.
Pro Tip: Want to become social media savvy? Here's your complete guide!
5. Local Information
Finally, you want to make sure your business information is up-to-date as it relates to Google Maps, Apple Maps and other mapping/location services. This is an element that not many MSPs think about, but you could be missing opportunities if you’re not showing up in local map searches! Most local businesses have critical errors in their NAP (name, address, phone) listings, which can get in the way of being able to be found online. To avoid this, take the time to update your Google+ and local information so you’re targeting the right area and showing up in the right searches.
By Brandon Garcin
By Gretchen Hoffman