As you sort out your managed services marketing strategy for 2009 (here are some tips), be sure to keep marketing's best friend in mind: Public relations. Through some simple steps, you can generate positive media buzz about your managed services practice in 2009. And that buzz, in turn, can generate new sales leads.
Here are five tips to get managed service providers started down the road to effective PR.
1. Star With the Basics: Steal a few ideas from other managed service providers such as DirectPointe, ranked No. 1 in our 2007-2008 MSPmentor 100 Survey.
On their Web site you'll notice a well-organized news section. It includes links to media stories about the company as well as DirectPointe's own press release. Those are such basic steps -- but MSPs fail to offer a media (press) area on their web sites.
So, tip one: Force yourself to generate one solid press release about your company per month. Post it on your Web site as HTML (so Google can search it). It can be as few as three paragraphs and it can highlight:
- A customer win or new customer engagement
- A new certification or vendor partnership -- but be sure to emphasize your own brand over the partner's brand
- A new hire or internal promotion
- A business milestone (years in business, company honor, etc.)
2. How to Generate A Press Release: It's easier than you think. Follow this simple overview.
In addition to that guide think about keywords you want to use in the release. On the one hand avoid lots of jargon. But on the other you need to leverage lots of specific terms. The reason: Google will crawl your site, find the release and potentially improve your company's search engine optimization. In other words, think about search terms customers might use to find your company in Google. Then use those search terms in your press releases.
I'll offer more ideas on Search Engine Optimization and Web 2.0 marketing on December 23.
3. Make a Media List: Which local, regional, national and international media brands can help raise your company's profile?
Don't bother reporters unless you have news to share. And if you don't have any news, try to piggyback major events by offering yourself up as a source for larger industry stories such as:
- major IT product launches (Windows 7, anything Apple, etc.)
- Weather, disasters and acts of God (how IT assists the recovery effort)
- Local business issues
4. Insist That MSP Events Offer PR Sessions: One of the strongest sessions at last year's Ingram Micro Seismic event in Chicago focused on PR strategies. (It was led by Marie Meoli of WhiteFox Marketing and Communications.) As you plan your travel for 2009, insist that conference hosts include PR on their agendas.
Believe me: As an attendee you can greatly influence conference sessions and topics before they're set in stone.
5. Ask for Customer References: For 2009, strive to develop four customer profiles or customer case studies -- or one per quarter. They can be as simple as a single page describing the customer need, the business challenges they faced, and the way you addressed their challenges.
Next, you can transform each customer reference into a press release, a podcast and other types of content that attracts more media attention. I'll offer more thoughts on content creation and viral marketing on December 26, when I blog about Web 2.0 promotion strategies and tools.
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