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“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” Ever heard that one? That quote from Eleanor Roosevelt speaks to me. It does because in my work life, I am reminded of it multiple times a week. I’ve been dealing with marketing, IT, and SMBs for the past 13 years. Speed, learning curve, expertise, go go go! I often see business owners wanting to do more, hoping to find time, wishing for more leads, but the action plan to go with it is often like swiss cheese or left unexecuted. It rarely goes beyond wishful thinking.

 

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Before moving on, allow me to be corny once more and consider this quote from Benjamin Franklin: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Boom. There’s no getting around it: planning and taking enough time to do a good job has to be a part of the equation. The MSPs’ perfect wish list of cheap (or free!) easy, good, and fast marketing would look like this:

 

Marketing Utopia

 

The Venn Diagram of Marketing

In any scenario, you can only get two choices, just like the memes! The areas where all three choices join will only happen when pigs fly. So, you’re faced with one of the following scenarios :

Easy & Cheap:

  • You find an uncomplicated and inexpensive solution, but then it’ll take a loooooong time to put in place. It usually lies on your own shoulders or an internal resource split between different tasks. If you are executing yourself, you probably forgot to count the value of your time and the cost of inactivity of other tasks you have.

Easy & Fast:

  • You know your stuff and can execute easily and rapidly because it’s your area of expertise…because you’re a marketer. And easy is a relative term!

Cheap & Good:

  • You go online, search for a low price, believe it’s a good solution, and sign the check. Just like the easy route, it takes forever. You either need to implement yourself or pay more for them to execute.

Good & Fast:

  • Possible, but it’ll cost ya! That’s where most agencies are found. Mostly because of price expectations. More on that later.

Good & Free:

  • Keep it secret; keep it safe. If you managed to find The One Agency, don’t tell anyone and keep it close to your vest. It’s been unaccounted for the last 478 years, and people are searching!

Free & Fast:

  • Admiral Ackbar could spot that one from a light-year away. Steer clear or acknowledge that you’ll need to put in the time yourself because it’s probably a sales pitch. A lot of programs talk about cookie-cutter, free and fast, one-size-fits-all marketing. Depending on the program or provider, be careful. Some marketing providers will provide fast, ready to use assets to get you hooked into subscribing to a community. Some are amazing and extremely helpful. Others, not so much. Search for peer reviews from neutral places like Reddit for validation!

 

Why MSPs look for shortcuts

Now, we know our partners. Some execute marketing themselves, others have an in-house employee handling marketing, and few have a marketing agency or firm handling their strategy. At the end of the day, though, you’re missing a few hours to get everything you wish for off the ground.

The learning curve for marketing often seems too steep. I talk to bright, intelligent business owners that have the capacity to learn and execute some level of marketing strategy, and most want to, but they’re simply so busy! Just like I can’t plan and put a sophisticated redundant network in place efficiently, they can’t put marketing plans together with all the boxes of the Venn diagram ticked. We each have our specialties.

Yes, I could probably learn to put the network together if I put my energy into it. Those who know me know I am one stubborn millennial. But let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be the best use of my time. Just like spending a massive amount of time learning marketing isn’t always the best answer for every MSP. So I can understand why managed service providers are looking for easy to execute, cookie-cutter marketing with a fill in the blanks campaign.

 

The content of the box

Now, it’s true that white-label campaigns, webinars in a box, and other marketing assets are valuable. There is no doubt about it! But I see many marketing gurus promote themselves with “all in one, turnkey solution” for marketing where you press a magical button, and you’re successful overnight. Since it does sound appealing, I’ve seen a lot of IT providers get caught in this sleazy marketing pitch’s web. Sadly though, it’s often not that efficient. Even campaigns-in-a-box need energy and time. One Reddit user on r/MSP summed up his experience:

“In my opinion, it is all USEFUL if you put in the WORK.

But also, NONE of it is unique. It’s all the same stuff, stolen and recycled (maybe refreshed).

Most of the tools are good. But the kicker is you have to put in the WORK. No one will make you successful besides YOU. […] One of the biggest reasons (or hindrances) to success is YOU.”

source

So, leverage every white-label asset you find, sure. Use what your distributors and providers give you. Subscribe to the gurus if you have the means, but don’t believe you’ll be done, quick and dirty, at the press of a button. Good marketing is unique. It’s tailored to your own persona and unique value proposition. You want a business that is different from others? You want a strong differentiator? You want leads to recognize your value? Then don’t use the same message and marketing as everyone else. Use it as a stepping stone into customization, and you’re golden.

Without giving any personal opinions or endorsements, Robin Robins has a quote – yes, another one! – that speaks volumes: “Until someone buys your service, they don’t know how good you are. They only know how good your marketing is.” Marketing is the first impression you give. Don’t be a clone.

 

The reason why you need to plan and execute…or pay

You can use the cookie-cutter, but to make the actual cookie delicious, you will need to bake it, too. Or pay someone to lovingly make you a batch. That’s the good and fast approach. Time and money (often, they’re the same for SMB owners) can’t be ignored. Partners often forget that marketing can seem expensive, but the return on investment is more than worth it. And that’s true no matter how you spend your marketing budget. If you have someone run it all, good. If you execute yourself and spend it on advertising and assets, even better! Just do it smart.

 

A case for an MSP marketing budget

Let’s say you have an agreement with an agency, and for $2k a month, they run your social medias, write you a couple of articles, and manage some ads. Or if you execute internally, you put that 2k toward online campaigns. Now, $2000 can seem like a lot of money, but let’s put it into perspective: Marketing’s sole purpose is to bring you actionable leads. You either nurture them into warmer leads if they’re top of the funnel leads, close them into clients, or discard them and optimize your campaigns for better results.

If your marketing generates ten good leads per month and using average industry numbers, you turn six of them into assessments or opportunities, then close one of those, your numbers will look like this monthly:

  • Budget: $2000
  • Leads: 10
  • Cost per lead: $200
  • Conversion to sales lead: 60%
  • Cost per opportunity: $333
  • Conversion to client: 30%
  • Cost per ONE client: $2000

Money out; Money in. Now, how much does your average managed service package go for? How long do your clients stay at your business? Now you got it: multiply those two together! Profit & Return on investment. Re-boom.

Karl Palachuk gives this example regarding MRR clients:

“A $1,000/month contract becomes $12,000/year and $36,000 over three years. Plus, that client totally relies on you for other purchases as well.

Get fifteen of those and you’ve got $180,000 a year!

Add twenty contracts at $3,500 per month and you’ve got a million dollars.

The most beautiful thing about managed services (and cloud services) is recurring revenue. It’s built into the system. It IS the business model.” –Source

I totally read that in his voice, too. Did you? Let’s continue.

You paid $2000 to get one client that, from the example above, will bring you 12k/year. The math is simple: you will get that money back. It’s just a question of mindset.

 

TL;DR – Takeaways

Yes, you will need to work at it.

No, you don’t have to learn everything.

Yes, you can leverage experts.

No, it won’t happen overnight or at the touch of a button.

Yes, white-label marketing is great to use.

No, it’s not ready at the touch of a button.

If you see a claim somewhere that someone can guarantee you success with out-of-the-box assets you don’t have to edit or just press a button, know that there is still a list of tasks for you to do. You wouldn’t want to be the sixth MSP in your region to use the same content.

Need help figuring out where you might be lacking in your marketing stack? Check out this article on why MSPs fail at marketing. Still have concerns or questions? Reach out through our social media platforms or my LinkedIn. I’ll happily try my best to address your requests. Until next time, stay engaged! Stop by our security, backup, and compliance hub and learn how to pitch our stack with a cyber assessment!

Written by Maude Tanguay Program Lead, Partner Success @ Sherweb

Maude lives and breathes partner acquisition, onboarding and success. She works closely with different departments across Sherweb’s ecosystem to ensure customer experiences are optimized and valuable. Her professional experience comprises more than 12 years in IT marketing, including past roles in copywriting, graphic design and inbound. A strategic thinker, Maude excels at both project management and execution, making her a strong asset for any initiative she’s involved in. When she’s not leading the charge to help partners achieve their sales and marketing goals, Maude enjoys playing video games, spending time with her daughters and enjoying a glass of wine—but not necessarily in that order ;).