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Before we get into marketing strategy templates for MSPs, I want to share a fun bit of trivia. This one’s related to blog posts and news articles, so any of you who absorb or create tons of content might find it amusing.
There’s an adage called Betteridge’s Rule of Headlines, and it’s considered to be a sort of journalistic cousin to Murphy’s Law.
What it states is: Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word ‘no’. I sometimes refer to it as “the clickbait rule”.
While this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule with zero exception, it’s certainly true 99% of the time. The reasoning is simple. If the answer to the question were yes, then simply stating the fact would make for a far more powerful headline.
Scientists find abandoned washing machine on Mars.
That’s a head-turner as far as headlines go — but if a writer goes with that wording, they’re holding themselves to a statement of fact. The story better be about finding a washing machine on Mars. However, if the headline reads:
Did scientists find an abandoned washing machine on Mars?
Well, there’s no actual substance to that question. The article could be about finding a rock that’s sort of shaped like a washing machine. Or it could be about background electromagnetic radiation that sounded like a washing machine. Or it might have nothing to do with a washing machine at all.
Maybe you can see where I’m going with this based on the title of this article…
The Best MSP Marketing Strategy Template Ever(?)
I was inspired to write this article after visiting a website where a marketing company was offering a “free MSP marketing strategy template” as a lead capture download.
This obviously isn’t the first time I’ve seen one of these strategy templates. (I’m pretty sure I’ve had a hand in writing a few of them over the past ten years or so.) They seem like an obvious piece of content for a marketing agency to produce, so why not?
Well, because they’re utterly stupid. Let me explain.
I spent a few minutes going through this free template, and it really served to remind me why we do things the way we do here at Your Sales Energy. Decades of experience in marketing — many of those years being spent in the channel — have taught us what works and what simply looks nice but serves no practical function in the real world.
Guess which one of those categories a strategy template falls under? Let’s see.
The template was about what you’d expect. If you’ve ever downloaded one, I’m sure it didn’t look much different than the one I’m looking at right now.
It starts off with a barebones explanation of how to define an audience. (At least more marketers in the IT channel are starting here. I remember when I preached audience targeting seven or eight years ago and most MSP marketers just looked at me with a blank expression.)
Then it goes into some bollocks about writing down some key selling points. I call this nonsense because this approach of asking a business owner to define their Unique Selling Propositions, differentiators, or selling points fails miserably almost every time. It’s marketing’s job to do this for a reason, and the short answer as to why is that the MSP is too close to the problem to answer the question effectively. (If you want full-blown details on what I mean, read REMIX Marketing. Seriously. Read it now. I’ll wait.)
Then the template falls into your typical “marketing checklist” format. You know, the shopping list that tells you “post four times to social media” then “post to your blog” then “email a newsletter”.
In other words, worthless. You see, these are tasks, not strategic objectives. They’re not planned or purpose-driven. Templates like these are the equivalent of saying things like:
I’m going to tell you how to win a Grand Prix race. Here’s your template:
- Get into car.
- Drive car fast.
- Hit the apex on every corner.
Here’s a template for cooking the most delicious meal you’ve ever had:
- Get your ingredients.
- Chop what needs to be chopped. Mix what needs to be mixed.
- Cook it all at the right temperature.
Utterly stupid, because you’re not getting the most important details of the processes. Telling someone to post to social media without helping them understand why, how, and what they’re posting is not “marketing advice”. It’s nonsense. Telling someone to spend time creating content and spewing it all over the internet without first developing a brand and positioning their company is just proliferating this completely false notion that marketing is a super-easy soft skill that you can master simply by doing stuff.
“Doesn’t matter what you post. Just post four times a week and you’ll be raking in the leads!”
As Stephen Hawking would say: Rubbish.
There is zero logic to this thinking. And as a marketing professional of twenty years, I promise you that growth simply does not work that way. If it did, our team wouldn’t still be working our butts off coming up with new ideas, new approaches, and innovative content. We’d just post four times a week and be millionaires. Much easier!
Marketing is not a checklist. There’s no magic formula where a certain number of mundane actions will add up to results. Growth takes research, creativity, innovation, time, and some honest hard work.
Is that scarier than the idea that there’s a super-awesome checklist somewhere on the internet that makes it easy? Sure. But MSPs who want to grow shouldn’t be looking for a feel-good answer. They should be looking for results.
Do what you do best, outsource the rest. I would never stop someone from learning marketing, but picking it up piecemeal as you go is not the way to grow a business. Marketing and sales are too important for an MSP to treat them like a hobby. The countless MSPs who are struggling right now are learning that — some of them are learning it too late to recover from the mistake.
I’ve handed out a bit of advice for years now, and I’m going to reiterate it here: Take marketing seriously, it is the heart of your business.
Yes, this statement is a bit reductive and simple, but it’s true. A product is just an object until it’s marketed. And IT is simply a set of solutions and skills until it’s marketed. When you take marketing out of the equation, there’s no revenue generation. There’s no business.
Marketing gives back what you put into it. If you invest ten minutes a day, you won’t get anything back. If you allocate a few hundred bucks a month, you can’t expect to see four-figure MRR gains lining up outside your door. Set realistic marketing budgets, and temper your expectations accordingly.
Most of the marketing scams that MSPs run into just play on that recirculating dream that there’s a magical way to spend minimal dollars and get extraordinary returns. It’s hard to avoid these scams because we’re human and we all want to believe there’s some easy answer to the hard challenges.
But if all of my experience has taught me one thing, it’s that in marketing the cheap and easy answer is never the effective answer.
And if you’re wondering if we actually did find the best MSP marketing strategy template ever, the answer is still up in the air. (We’re trying to decide the metrics you’d use to choose the best among options that don’t work.)