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Marketing Your Managed Services: Part 1 of 2

Marketing Your Managed Services: Part 1 of 2

In the classic reseller channel, sales and marketing back in the day consisted of hanging up a sign and waiting for customers to walk through your front door. That was fun while it lasted. Today, with the world becoming smaller and the marketing noise becoming louder, managed services providers like you have to fight through a whole web of marketing and sales options to make your impact. It is overwhelming, really. But don't panic. Marketing and sales can be broken down into four major components. Here's how to get started.

If you do a little bit in all four areas, then you can bring massive marketing success to your firm. If you miss one, though, then you'll find that you're playing catch-up with your competition. For this blog entry let's take a look at each of the four fronts of marketing. And stay tuned for part two in February 2011 , where we'll delve into the goals a marketing plan can focus on.

Now, the four fronts of marketing:

1. Press Recognition and Mass Advertising

The first method is through the press. The marketing power that mass advertising brings, either by being written up in the newspaper, blogs, or other forms of journalism; or by purchasing advertorials in those publications can be huge. Google Adwords, guest blogging for industry specific blogs, billboards, and other areas where your company's name can show up in front of potential prospects can be the quickest way to grow your business.

Companies have been developed overnight using mass recognition through news outlets.

2. Social Media and The Social Graph

Marketing through social media is probably one of the most misunderstood marketing methods in the world. Social media marketing is really word-of-mouth evolved. Successful marketers in the social media space have figured out a way to be interesting enough to get people to pass them on to their friends, business associates, and family. Getting the ball rolling can be tough, but the keys to success are consistency and creativity. This front covers things like Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, and more.

One thing I can tell you is that screaming "here I am! Listen to me!" will not bring the results you're looking for.

3. Internal Marketing

I know that for myself I feel like once I make a customer I have that customer for life. But the reality is that once you have a customer you have earned yourself a right to sell to that customer a second time. That is all. Even if your services are monthly, it is important to continue to woo that customer consistently or else you will eventually lose their interest and they'll discontinue service with you.

Many marketers refer to this front as upselling. It is important to know that the most lucrative marketing you can ever do for your business is to market to people who have already become a client of yours at one point or another. If someone believed in you enough to open their wallet, you can bet they will do it again given the right opportunity.

4. Direct to Prospect Marketing

So someone heard of you through one of your many marketing efforts. Not only that, but they actually reached out to you! Not just that, but they actually are interested in what you have to offer! This moment is where most sales are blown. Companies are too busy/slow/stupid/insertyourownexcusehere to recognize the opportunity of a new lead and fail to take advantage of it.

The result? A lost sale.

Hey, it happens to the best of us. But it is important to build a "sales funnel" to bring people from "hey, I'm interested" to happy customer.

The Plan

Without a marketing plan in place for each front, you'll find gaping holes in your marketing strategy and will need to work double-time to cover for the loss.

The good news is that it is simpler than it sounds. It is simply a matter of learning to structure your marketing interactions and making sure that you do at least one thing on all four fronts (focusing on prospects and clients more than mass marketing and the social media world) to help grow your business.

I'll be continuing on this train of thought over the coming weeks as we delve deeper into what marketing is all about and how an IT business can develop and implement a marketing plan. In the mean-time, though, I'd love to hear from you about ways that you have faced any of the four fronts in your business? Any neat tricks or ideas you've implemented that brought new customers or income into your business?

One of the things which I loved to do was use SendOutCards. SendOutCards allowed you to send treats like brownies to new clients with a fun or fancy physical card welcoming them into the fold. This was a fantastic direct to prospect marketing strategy that had great results. It made new customers feel very excited about working with me, and the card ended up working as advertising when they hung it up in their office where their customers could see it. The brownies never hurt either!

Stay tuned for part two, where we'll delve into the goals a marketing plan can focus on.

Dan Kolansky is VP of sales and marketing for Virtual Administrator, which offers low-cost, highly effective hosted solutions for Managed Service Providers. Guest blog entries such as this one are contributed on a monthly basis as part of MSPmentor’s annual Platinum sponsorship.

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