The biggest challenge facing today's managed service providers is marketing and PR, according to 44 percent of participants attending our MSPmentor Live: CEO Exchange Webcast, held June 12. (You can view the archived webcast here.)
Other challenges included educating customers (28%), training sales staff (15%), choosing the right platforms (9%) and training tech staff (3%). (The figures are rounded, so they only add up to 99%.) I'll cover each of these challenges in the days ahead.
Let's start with some tips for mastering marketing and PR.
The New Rules of Marketing and PRFirst, open your wallet and purchase "The News Rules of Marketing and PR," by David Meerman Scott. As I've stated before, this book should be required reading for everyone building a business.
Scott describes how you can use news releases, blogs, podcasting, viral marketing and online media to reach your target customers directly. It's an easy read packed with great tips and guidance.
I've actually used his book to assist some of our viral marketing strategies at MSPmentor. Consider this: In less than six months, more than 1,800 blog entries across the web have linked to our content.
Scott was one of the key guests at Cisco's first-ever partner marketing summit, held in December 2007 in Miami. (Full disclosure: I consulted a bit on the event, and recruited Scott into the speaking slot.) Scott's personal site (http://www.davidmeermanscott.com) is full of free marketing tips.
People In the KnowIf you're kicking around PR strategies for your business, I recommend potentially speaking with Cheryl Snapp Conner, principal at SnappConner PR. She represents DirectPointe (ranked #1 on our MSPmentor 100) and can certainly help MSPs to promote their messages.
Also, Marie Meoli of Whitefox Marketing and Communications is a solid PR expert for MSPs. She currently represents such organizations as Ingram Micro Seismic and N-able (and a new MSP-related client soon).
It's a little strange for an editor to direct readers to PR resources. After all, Marie and Cheryl pitch me story ideas from time to time. But I guess that's why I thought of them first: They're PR pros who push MSP company agendas forward. (Sorry if any other PR pros felt snubbed.)
One word of caution: PR isn't free. If you want guidance and help, you're going to pay for it. But you can start small. Pick of David Meerman Scott's book for starters.