I often meet with CEO's of managed service businesses. From those meetings I have learned a great deal about their business, the way they see themselves, the way they want to be seen by their customers, and the way their prospects see them. The thing that stands out the most to me is how many similarities these businesses have; there is very little differentiation between them. In fact, many use the same content as their competitors; content that is syndicated to 500 similar businesses is useless. Even their websites are templated with the same color schemes (usually blue highlights with a white background). Some expert decided that it was the best color for MSPs so everyone joined in. Where are the outliers? The masters of the cutting edge of technology? Where are the thought leaders?
Most are using prospecting methods that are becoming less and less effective. Continued attempts to drum up business this way can drive an MSP stagnant. As Dank Pink mentions in his book, To Sell Is Human, we are in a world of seller beware, customers are armed with the latest technology news at the click of a mouse. They have access to direct response mediums like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. The tools customers have to be vocal about their complaints are numerous, but the tools used by businesses to listen to their customers are limited.
Facts About Interruption Marketing
44% of Direct Mail is Not Open
86% of People Skip TV Commercials
Over 200 Million People are on the DO NOT CALL LIST
The statistics are clearly in favor of a less interruptive, more engaging form of communication with your audience.
I admit, I am guilty of using antiquated methods to try to reach my customers. For a period of time I invested in real estate and I used direct mail to generate leads. It worked, until one day I got tired of seeing a less than 1% return on my efforts. Diminishing returns lead me to the conclusion that there are better ways to develop relationships. The story has been the same for many of my clients in the technology industry. Many companies and coaches still preach cold calling, direct mail, and buying lists! Just a word of caution, do not buy a list. (Why its a Bad Idea and How to Grow Your Own Email List)
So What is an MSP to Do?
In recent years the inbound marketing methodology has developed into a movement. The guiding principle is to create marketing that people love. So the question my MSP clients ask me, and the question I am answering in this blog series, is: Is Inbound Marketing the right choice for my technology business?
First, lets take a look at your current marketing funnel. We need to assess your current MSP marketing efforts in four key areas including, traffic, leads, customers, and goals, to provide us with a benchmark.
1. Traffic: How much traffic are you getting to your website?
2. Leads: How many leads are you getting form your website?
3. Customers: How many new customers closing from those leads?
4. Goals: How do your answers above compare to the goals you set at the beggining of this year?
In order to visualize the importance of these metrics, let's use a table:
|Marketing Funnel Analysis||Current Funnel|
|Customer/month (inbound only)||2.0|
|Visitor: Lead Conversion||1.0%|
|Lead: Customer Conversion||2.0%|
The best way to extract these numbers is to use Analytics on your site. We suggest using both Google and HubSpot Analytics to track these metrics. For businesses in the beggining stages of marketing, a great free tool to begin gathering lead intelligence is LeadIn.
Google Analytics Dashboard
Due to the extensive conversations I've had with MSPs, I've realized that more and more have fallen into the trap of using the same content as their peers, adapting the same style of websites, and even using the same marketing methods. There is a proven way to stand out in the MSP crown, implement the inbound marketing methodology. Start by assessing your current marketing performance. This will enable you to make decisions based on facts and not the misinformation you find on the internet or from your peer groups.
If you review your metrics and find that you are not satisfied with your current situation, the next blog posts in this series will cover exactly how inbound can turn your business around. We are always here to help, but if you just can't wait for the next post, please do not hesitate to contact us.