Managed Service Providers: How to Be Seen, Be Heard In A Bad Economy

An interesting trend continues to accelerate in the managed services market: In a bad economy, it seems, smart managed service providers continue to raise the volume of their marketing messages.

Let me give you two prime examples: masterIT and Nimsoft both landed big, splashy coverage in the Dec. 15 issue of CRN. On the one hand, print magazines continue to shrink. But on the other, masterIT and Nimsoft both gained valuable coverage in one of the IT channel's oldest, most established brands. Here's why I'm impressed ... and here's what MSPs can learn from masterIT and Nimsoft.

Go Viral With Video

Let's start with masterIT (ranked No. 6 in our 2007-2008 MSPmentor 100 report). It sounds like a cliche, but masterIT CEO J. Michael Drake is a polished executive who always presents a professional appearance. He landed on page 4 of CRN, and appears in a related CRN video.

Drake is no stranger to video. He's partnered with several vendors to appear in Web videos that promote his messages across the globe. In other words: masterIT leverages vendor funding to go viral -- and global -- with company messaging. Here's one example involving masterIT and Seagate's eVault (now i365).

Drake's strategy -- be seen, be heard, be professional -- will surely help masterIT to partner up and/or sort through potential acquisition and customer engagement strategies in the next few years.

Nimsoft: Transforming Research Into PR

Meanwhile, Nimsoft is using a familiar strategy to generate market buzz: Put some research in the field, gather the numbers and publish them. The resulting information will likely attract media attention -- and potential customer attention.

In Nimsoft's case, the company published a study describing how MSPs are gaining momentum in mid-size and large enterprises. I don't find the data surprising. And MSPmentor has covered the MSP push into mid-size and large enterprises.

But here's the key point, especially for Nimsoft branding: For the next year or so, IT journalists will quote Nimsoft's research over and over again. CRN devoted a full page to Nimsoft's research. Ken Vanderweel, director of product marketing at Nimsoft, is front-and-center in the story. Naturally, the research reinforce's Nimsoft's own market focus -- the company has a strong position in mid-size and large enterprises.

More Data, More Discussion

That's a familiar strategy. Untangle, an open source security company, released an MSP study earlier this year. And MSPmentor itself generates global buzz with the MSPmentor 100 and MSPmentor 250 surveys.

One note of caution: Before you develop research, carefully consider your intended audience and intended goals. If the research is nothing more than a product pitch for your company, you'll wind up hurting rather than helping your brand.

The recession continues. Make a decision: Are you going to look at financial spreadsheets all day? Or are you going to find creative ways to get your message out to potential customers?

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