MSPs and Marketing: 9 Ways to Get Started

A quick question for managed service providers: Does your 2010 company budget include a line item for marketing, PR and company promotions? Do you even have a basic marketing strategy in place? If not here are nine quick ideas to get started.

This is another one of those long-belated blog entries. During a mid-2009 webcast, a bunch of MSPs asked ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini about potential keywords for Google Adwords marketing campaigns. Everyone attending the webcast, it seemed, was looking for marketing and PR tips.

But are MSPs really ready to take marketing action in 2010? If so, here are nine quick ideas -- in no particular order.

1. Who Owns Marketing?: Pick someone within your company to lead marketing, PR and communications functions. Then, send them out to get educated. Here's how...

2. Visit a local college: If you're starting from scratch and have zero marketing knowledge go visit your local college or university. Many colleges have student-run, professor-led courses that assist small businesses with their marketing needs. When I worked at NYIT, a college in New York, local businesses raved about the Carleton Group, NYIT's student-run advertising and public relations agency.

Next, determine if you can leverage college resources to help refine and polish your brand, your web site, etc. And don't forget: Search engine optimization is just as important as your site's look and feel.

3. Set Goals, Measure Progress: What are you trying to achieve? Here's a look at how to set goals and measure your progress.

4. Start Reading Mashable: When it comes to social media marketing tips and strategies, Mashable is the go-to web site.

5. Open A Google Adwords Account: Get an overview here and get started here. Use Google's Keyword Tool to help you identify key advertising terms that could lead to new business. Also, learn how Adwords can help you target only customers within your town or region. No need to run online ads that reach New Yorkers if you're a small MSP in Sydney, Australia...

Set up a monthly Adwords budget -- as little as $100 or so -- and monitor how your ads are displayed for two or three months. Which terms are getting the most hits? Which  terms deliver the most bang for your buck? Alas, Adwords can involve a lot of trial-and-error. You won't find the answers until you get started.

6. Get Out of Your Office: A lengthy list of experts -- Mike Cooch, Gary Pica, Amy Luby, Robin Robins, David Schafran, Stuart Selbst and Erick Simpson, just to name a few -- are in the market assisting MSPs with various business efforts. No two experts are alike, so check in with each of them to see (A) how they help MSPs and (B) if their talents/expertise can help drive your business forward.

7. Pick Up A Book: David Meerman Scott's New Rules of Marketing and PR should be on every MSP's bookshelf.

8. Get Out of Tech: Visit local real estate firms, local insurance firms, local restaurants and other local businesses to see how they developed their local advertising and marketing efforts. Which local businesses have great logos? Which local businesses have well-designed web sites? Which local businesses always seem to be connecting with you through creative marketing and advertising?

Stop hanging out with the tech crowd so much and start hanging out with entrepreneurs from other verticals to see how they developed and marketed their brands.

9. Share: What did I miss on the list above? Surely, there are 100 best practices I've overlooked. Share them. Please.

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