Managed Services Marketing: Spending vs. Speaking

Managed Services Marketing: Spending vs. Speaking

managed-service-provider-marketingOver the weekend several MSPmentor readers asked me to focus increasingly on marketing tips for managed service providers. Your requests came through loud and clear. You'll see multiple marketing-related blog entries in the days ahead, including this one. Let's start with the basics: Marketing spend vs. marketing speak.

Some MSPs start by focusing on how much they should spend on marketing. According to Go-to-Market Strategies: "8-10% of revenue should be spent on marketing, with approximately 5% of that going to labor (either for a department, or outsourcing to a marketing firm)."

But before you spend a dime on marketing ask yourself the following question: Do you -- and all of your employees -- use the same words to describe your business in a compelling, succinct manner?

Speak Before Spend

My point: You need to learn how to speak -- and write -- about your business before you spend money marketing your business. One simple way to get started is to set up a private internal company survey, using SurveyMonkey.

Within the survey -- designed for only you and your employees to see -- ask your staff the following questions:
  1. In three sentences or less, how would you describe our company to a potential customer?
  2. What are our three most impressive business achievements?
  3. What three words or terms best describe our company?
  4. In three sentences or less, what differentiates our company from our rivals?
  5. What is our company's single biggest strength?
One of Cisco Systems' fastest-growing partners in North America used the SurveyMonkey approach to gather employee perspectives, craft a mission statement and solidify their branding efforts before launching a marketing campaign.

Once you've reviewed all of the survey responses, a picture of your company should start to emerge. You'll love some of feedback. But you'll also disdain some of the responses -- and you'll see words/jargon you'll want to eliminate from your company's vocabulary.

About Us

At the bottom of every well-produced press release, you'll find an "About Us" section that communicates a company's history, focus and mission. Using the SurveyMonkey content you've gathered, you should be able to produce a well-written "About Us" statement that keeps your employees -- and external company watchers -- focused on the key terms that describe your company.

Here are some example, real-world "About Us" statements:
  • Apple: Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital media revolution with its iPod portable music and video players and iTunes online store, and has entered the mobile phone market with its revolutionary iPhone.
  • Cisco Systems: Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Information about Cisco can be found at http://www.cisco.com. For ongoing news, please go to http://newsroom.cisco.com. Cisco equipment in emerging markets is supplied by Cisco Systems International BV, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • Google: Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major global markets. Google's targeted advertising program provides businesses of all sizes with measurable results, while enhancing the overall web experience for users. Google is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. For more information, visit www.google.com.

MSPs In Their Own Words

Now a few examples from various managed service providers (MSPs):
  • The I.T. Pros: Founded in 2001, The I.T. Pros is a San Diego based Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner that puts an end to reactive service calls by employing a managed services approach. Focused on the small and medium sized business community, The I.T. Pros touches all areas technology including servers and desktops, electronic communication, data backup and recovery, security and Internet services. The I.T. Pros combines these solutions with a 24/7 support capability that utilizes helpdesk, monitoring incident management and onsite service.
  • Long View Systems: Long View Systems offers flexible, end-to-end operational IT solutions for SMB to Enterprise level organizations across North America. Our unique insight into the distinct business requirements of our clients, along with the strong support of our manufacturing partners, results in IT infrastructures that works better and costs less. Long View employs only the best people (more than 550 consultants) on the leading edge of established and emerging technologies. They work closely with clients to ensure success while providing ongoing value as part of a sustainable relationship founded on innovation and trust. Contact Long View today to find out how our expert team can help your business lower costs and improve operational effectiveness and efficiency.
  • mindSHIFT Technologies: mindSHIFT provides  technology peace of mind to small and medium-sized organizations by delivering premier IT infrastructure and software services that utilize the most reliable and advanced systems and processes in the world.  Organizations use mindSHIFT's IT management services to keep their businesses running 24x7, to increase reliability and to protect mission-critical data. mindSHIFT is ranked Number One among managed IT services providers by MSPmentor®. We make IT work for your business.®
What works for you? What doesn't? Before you spend a dime on marketing, start crafting the right words to describe your company. Then, make those words required reading for all of your employees.


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