Four Secrets to Starting A Successful Business, Part 4

So, you want to launch a small business or reposition your company as a managed service provider (MSP). What steps can you take to maximize your chances for success? I've written a four-part blog to cover that very question. Here's the fourth and final portion of this blog: Marketing and PR on the Web.

Let's assume you've set up your business, and you've got a few satisfied customers. But you're seeking to raise your company's visibility and expand your geographic reach. That's where marketing, PR and search engine optimization (SEO) enter the picture.

First, make sure your Web site includes a "Press and Media" or "News" area. At least once per month, announce a new business milestone in that portion of that site. It could be a customer win, new hire, new certification or new managed services offering. Feel free to include a PDF of the press release. But more importantly, make sure the release is posted as HTML as well, so that Google can search it for keywords.

Next, publicize those announcements on peer web sites -- local newspapers, magazines, blogs, etc. Smart MSPs -- like Everon -- post comments on a range of Web sites each week, and all of those Everon comments include links back to the company's Web site. This vastly improves Everon's search engine optimization (SEO).

Avoid the temptation to write press releases only for the IT media and trade publications. Remember, the web allows you to communicate your messages to your target customers -- without the media (including MSPmentor) -- getting in your way. Keep technology jargon to a minimum, and outline the key business benefits of a customer engagement.

For instance, if you're a security MSP that won a customer engagement with Acme Corp.

  • Describe how many pieces of spam you block from Acme's network each month.
  • Highlight how often Acme's mobile sales force safely connects to the company network from public hotspots or customer sites each week.
  • Offer metrics describing how you've helped Acme to vastly reduce help-desk calls, system outtages, etc.
  • If your customers' business is booming, try to take some credit -- but not too much credit -- for assisting in that success.
Still not sure where to get started? Check out the book "The New Rules of Marketing and PR" from David Meerman Scott. It's a great read, and you'll come away with multiple tips that raise your company's visibility.
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