msp sales and marketing

Do You Own or Rent Your Marketing?

One of the many side-effects of “yo-yo marketing” is that MSPs are often left with nothing of value after severing ties with a marketing tool or digital marketing agency. As soon as they stop paying the bill, all promotion stops, all value disappears, and in some cases, the marketing provider even walks away with the MSP’s lead list.

Hell, there are some marketing agencies out there who build that sort of “scorched earth” effect into their exit clause; if you cancel your contract with them, they’ll take any leads they’ve generated and sell them to someone else in your region.

That’s what “rented marketing” looks like, and it’s a system that 100% benefits the marketing provider, not the client.

You can avoid this problem by ensuring that your marketing dollars are actually an investment and not a rent check. This is sometimes difficult to do right now in the middle of the “digital marketing bubble”. Digital marketers aren’t typically great at building equity through marketing — most agencies don’t even try.

Think about the aspects of your marketing that can disappear at the flip of a switch:

  • Traffic
  • SEO
  • Outbound marketing
  • Social posts
  • Cold calling

These are the domain of digital marketers. These are all activities, not assets, and their value disappears as soon as someone stops actively doing them.

That’s one of the reasons you can’t build a robust business development strategy around these things. The above examples are not the foundations of marketing, only the tools.

If you want to truly own your marketing — and in doing so, reap the most benefit from investing in it — you must focus on the foundations first. In our Remix Marketing methodology, we call it building a position of dominance, and it revolves entirely around building rock-solid marketing assets that are uniquely yours and can never be taken from you.


  • An advantageous position in the market
  • Unique value that only you can deliver
  • An image that’s memorable and resonates with consumers
  • Your culture, communities, and causes

Every business should focus on building these first, before they spend a dime on promotional activities. When you develop these aspects of your marketing, you’re creating value that belongs to you, not a marketing agency.

Better yet, when you start rolling out all of those promotional activities — SEO, blogs, emails, etc. — you will see considerably better results. It’s not hard to imagine why:

  • Compare the MSP who can say “We have this thing you need and we’re the only one selling it” against the MSP who says “We’re an IT provider. We do IT stuff” and see who wins.
  • An MSP whose culture and personality are communicated through their image gives consumers something to resonate with and relate to. Whether you like it or not, brands drive consumer behavior.
  • A business that is confidently (and competently) branded appears to be more established, more reliable, more valuable, and more trustworthy simply because they made the effort to create a brand.

All of these positive benefits are yours to keep. As long as you manage your reputation well and deliver on your promises, no one can take away the value you build in your business through a more complete approach to marketing.

That’s what it really comes down to. Complete marketing. Somewhere along the way, this very misguided idea took root that promotion is the only aspect of marketing you need to concern yourself with.

That has never been, nor will it ever be, the case. Focusing on promotion while sacrificing the rest of the important functions of marketing is like driving a car with your butt. You could do it, but there’s already a much better way to do it, so why make it harder on yourself?

The most powerful advantages that a marketing expert can bring your business aren’t even created in the promotion quadrant of the marketing mix. They’re created through positioning your company, helping to develop products and contextualize offers, and through establishing innovative, dominant channels of growth in a competitor-rich environment.

Be warned, if you choose to stay focused only on the marketing activities and not the development of your brand, you will forever be renting your marketing.

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