It’s funny how we as humans procrastinate making healthier choices like starting a gym membership. Daily exercise is a PROVEN way to lose weight, avoid diseases and in general, elongate your life. It couldn't be more backwards, but we all do it.
Same is true for your business. The very actions that are proven to grow your IT businesses, are put on the back burner. Why is that?
Time. No one has it. I recently attended a Robin Robins marketing roadshow event in Washington DC, and I learned that even some MSPs who have the foresight enough to purchase content and strategies from Robin Robins (she's amazing btw), have STILL not found the time to implement one of her campaigns. A few that I met were 6 months-in on their Robin Robins membership and were JUST launching their first campaign.
But there's hope! As with a gym membership and exercise, marketing WILL grow your business. The two things you need are 1) time and 2) a plan. I'll provide number two for you. Take a few simple steps every month. Rather than outlining a huge "cruise liner" of a marketing plan that takes forever to build and launch, start with some "speed boats". Keep it nice and simple and you’ll only need to carve out a day’s worth of "marketing time" per month. Then, at the end of 12 months you'll have completed 12 easy-to-fix marketing problems that most small/medium IT businesses suffer from.
Here is your "12 month MSP marketing workout regimen."
Install tracking on your website.
- You can't begin to understand if any marketing is working until you have a baseline. Install google analytics on your site ASAP, its quick and simple. Go here.
- While you’re at it, set up at least one Goal in Google Analytics. Use this Goal as your “Contact Us” form.
Address the content on your homepage.
- Make sure the following are on your homepage.
- Clearly and concisely explain what it is you sell and how you’re different. This is called a USP - Unique Selling Proposition. It should be clear enough that a complete stranger would understand your business after reading this phrase. Learn how to write a great USP here.
- A quality photo of your team. This shows that you are REAL people and builds trust
- Your phone number. The only caveat to this is to ONLY put your phone number on your site if you have a solid system in place to answer the phone.
- Optimize messaging for your ideal clients. Once you figure out your target clients, optimize the messaging on your site for them. If you sell your biggest/best deals to Dentists in the Seattle metro-area, then make sure you mention them on your homepage.
Put a lead form on your site that is visible from your homepage.
This means either embed the form directly on the homepage or have a very visible Call to Action button that says “Contact Us” or “Get a free quote” (or similar) which links to a landing page with a form on it. What fields should you include on the form? What data do you need to make a decision on the lead? A good start would be Name, Email, Phone Number, Company Name, Website. I’d make them all required.
Don’t have a Content Management System (CMS) that allows you to create forms on the fly? Use Formstack.
Ask your customer database for referrals.
You have equity built up in your current customer base. They are your advocates and probably the biggest reason for most of your new business. Why not send an email and incentivize them for some word-of-mouth referrals? These will be highly qualified leads of companies similar to these clients. An easy win and will probably strengthen your relationship with those customers. Win/Win.
Optimize SEO for local search.
I put this in the first half of the year, because the results from it won’t be immediate, but it’s hugely important nonetheless. Organic is free, highly qualified traffic. Once you narrow down your keywords to a reasonable list (you can use Google’s Keyword Planner) 10-15 or so, you want to then research the most widely used phrases used to search your region. For example, if you live in the town of Beverly, Massachusetts (which resides on the “North Shore”), do you optimize for “Beverly MA” or “North Shore MA”? Plug them into the Keyword Planner and you’ll learn that “Beverly MA” has a much higher volume of Searches per Month.
Another tactic is to simply start typing phrases you’d like to target, and see how Google tries to complete your phrase:
This is a good way to spot some trends as these are the most popular (and current) search phrases.
Visit your Chamber of Commerce.
I put this at the halfway mark in the year, but if your website doesn’t need as much help, by all means - move this one earlier in the year. The purpose of this is to establish yourself as the “go-to” IT company in your region. You want your chamber of commerce to recommend you to ALL new companies coming into town. And don’t stop at the Chamber of Commerce. If there are other community events being held make sure you have a strong presence. Offer the new companies coming into town a free IT consultation or network assessment and gain trust among them. What’ll happen is that the CoC and other regional groups will start to recommend you as THE place to turn to for IT and Managed Services.
Launch social media account(s).
Start with a LinkedIn page at minimum. This adds credibility to your business. You can easily add a link to the next email to your customers and ask them to follow you. I’d also launch a Facebook page. This is where you should add lots of photos and posts showing what your team looks like. It’s a great place to show your company culture (parties, events, physical location). Google+ is important for search, so be sure you create a page and completely fill out your profile with phone numbers and location info.
Important notes with all social media accounts:
- Fully complete all the profile information. Put all that great web copy from your homepage into your company description. Also, be sure to include your address, important for local search.
- Use these accounts as amplifiers for your content. Anytime you have a new blog post, video, testimonial or even a funny photo - use these accounts to broadcast those. These are very important for earning trust. Important for Prospects AND Customers.
Develop a free offering.
I mentioned this earlier, but it’s important to offer a complimentary service so prospects can experience your great service before they commit. I’d put this right on your homepage to entice new prospects and increase website lead conversion. As mentioned before it’s a great message to mention during events. People want to try before they buy, especially for small businesses.
Start blogging once per month.
This is normally where business owners start to panic. “What am I going to blog about?” or “Who wants to read what I have to say?”....but worry not! Here are some easy ideas you can start putting into a file and publish them at a comfortable cadence (once per month to start) until you start building more of a backlog of content:
- What are the FAQs you hear from your customer? Right down the top 5 or 10 that you hear and write a detailed response. Each of those is a blog post. Try to write 300-500+ words per post.
- New clients will always ask about security, so by always reporting on “What’s new” in the industry regarding security positions you as an authority on the subject.
- Any time there’s a shake up in the industry (a new product, a data breach etc), write down your thoughts on why it happened and also how experts like yourself are dealing with it.
- Feature a customer. Use a testimonial or an interview of a customer and feature them on the blog. They’ll get awareness out of it, and you’ll be broadcasting a great selling tool; testimonials.
You do not have to be a professional writer to blog either. You want to convey the tone of a friendly, trusted adviser. A great way to get around physically writing, is to do short videos or podcasts and then having them transcribed. Post the video/podcast as the blog post with the transcription beneath it for search value.
Get one testimonial or case study from your optimal client type.
People feel comfortable buying when the company next to them, who is the same size and revenue, just purchased your services. It makes them feels safe and minimizes risk. You want to match up a testimonial with your optimal client profile, to reel in more. Testimonials are very easily procured after a large project is successfully completed or after a new client is successfully onboarded to your platform. Get while the gettin’s good!
Set up friendly co-marketing campaigns with other local businesses.
It’s important to support your local peer businesses, clients or not. Reach out to a few of them this holiday season (Small Business Saturday is a great time!) and work out a joint offering.
For example: “If you sign up for a free IT Consultation with us, you’ll be eligible for a complimentary Business Checking Account at our local bank.”
Run a holiday campaign (using your free offering).
With the form that you’ve added to your site, months ago, you should be able to email all the prospects that have not converted to customers, and share your enticing offer for them. At this point, with all of your event and local promotion, you’re more of a known entity in the area, so your trust should be on the up and up. A well-timed email should net you a few new inquiries.
In conclusion...Breaking the year up like this is the key. You can't lose 30 pounds in the first month of starting a gym membership - that'd be insane. It takes a commitment to a new regimen of setting aside a small amount of TIME each week/month.
Now go get em.
Start at Square 1.