I’ve been in the industry serving MSPs for some time, and in my conversations, I typically hear the same two remarks: “I want to learn to market better”…and “I tried that, but it didn’t work.” Huh? Those are contradictory statements!
Think about your IT practice as a whole. You've largely built its success by improving technical and operational aspects through trial and error, over time. Why then do you, like so many other MSPs, give up when it comes to your marketing plan?
You're Going to Struggle with Your Marketing Plan - Breathe
Rarely is there a straight line to success. Spend time reflecting, and you’ll likely agree with me. Recall months or years that passed when things didn’t run so smoothly, technically or operationally. Technicians quit or you got hit with an IT nightmare like Cryptolocker. But you stuck it out. You faced the challenge because it was within your general comfort zone.
Marketing typically falls outside of an MSP's comfort zone. However, it’s vitally important to dedicate time, on a consistent basis, to grow your business, for you, your family and your employees. We’re so quick as a community to try something in the sphere of marketing for 3-6 months, if even that, call it a failure and move on. That’s flat out the wrong approach.
What’s even more damaging, many of you don't try again!
Our Own Marketing Struggles - Initial Blog Growth
Marketing, specifically, takes time. DON’T GIVE UP! If there's one thing our marketing team has learned over the years, it's that success doesn't happen overnight, and you have to learn from a few mistakes before you trend up and to the right. Take our own blog, for example. When we first launched MSPblog, traffic and subscriptions paled in comparison to the visits we receive now.
Gradual Traffic - What Giving Up 2 Months In Looks Like
If you're an MSP thinking about launching a blog or struggling to grow one, don't get overwhelmed. Traffic is gradual. Let's say your blog has been around for two months, but in that increment, the percentage change in visits is a fraction of a fraction. That does not mean that blog visits will grow at that rate, from then on.
Many of you get hung up on that second month's lackluster results because you don't have enough data to compare it to. We on the Continuum blog team decided to put ourselves in your position by applying our own blog metrics. Using the number of visits we obtained in our blog's first full month, October 2013, as a reference point, we plotted the percentage increase from this number for each month to illustrate the time it takes to significantly exceed your first month of visits.
Below, you'll see that after launching our blog in October 2013, November 2013 traffic growth is barely visible. A 0.2% increase in visits isn't very impressive, is it? Now, compare that performance to November a year later, 23.2% higher than the blog's first month of visits. Marketing, like blogging, takes time. You can't call it quits a few months in.
You also have to remember that the marketing journey zigs and zags. Looking at the bars above, you'll see a few outliers. Last June, we published Can You Spot The 13 Security Flaws In This Photo?, our highest-viewed blog post of all time. For this reason, June performance is significantly higher than other months. Additionally, November 2013, that second month, is actually an outlier in the long run too. And you were so ready to throw in the towel! What matters most is the line of best fit, the black trend line featured in the chart. Although the graph fluctuates, this line trends upward to the right, the kind of steady growth you want!
Soon, You'll Get Into the Groove
If you're just launching your blog, or any other marketing initiative, take it from us. You have to give it time! We could have given up after two months, but instead made changes. We recruited more blog contributors, gradually increased our cadence, and socialized content on social channels and online communities. We kept working on it, evaluating what did and didn't work! Part of that was allowing ourselves to walk before we ran, slowly ramping up efforts so that the workload was scalable. Apply this same approach to any other marketing program you pursue. Start out slowly and figure out what works best for you. Just make sure you're tracking progress and marketing KPIs, while keeping in mind that a good marketing plan, like a blog, can take months, even years to develop.
Hopefully, I don't have to convince you of the value marketing has for your business. You have to let folks know that you’re out there and show how you’ve helped other clients like them. How else do you attract new business when potential customers become displeased with their current provider?
Perhaps, you're like many MSPs that understand the necessity of a marketing plan, but don't know how to build your business based on marketing strategy. I highly suggest you look into MSP Advantage and Robin Robins's services for further support. In the meantime, don't get disheartened and assume marketing just isn't right for your business. Marketing is necessary for ALL businesses. You just have to keep at it!
Step 1 to Launching Your MSP Marketing Program:
By Meaghan Moraes
By Gretchen Hoffman