msp marketing 2021

No Brain, No Gain! Breaking MSP Marketing Plateaus in 2021

You know how gym memberships always go up at the beginning of the year? The same thing happens with MSP Marketing contracts.

Everyone is either thinking about getting in shape or growing their business, so we figured why not help you with the latter by using a ton of metaphors from the former? ?

“Success in life is 80% psychology and 20% mechanics — what you do doesn’t matter if you aren’t in the right mindset.” – Tony Robbins

It’s easy to get lost in the mechanics of doing something without fully understanding the “why” or “how” elements. This is a mistake in both marketing and in fitness, so let’s take a deeper look:


1. The Problem with “Yo-Yo Marketing”

What happens to most people when they decide to go on a diet? They do it for a few weeks, then they stop. Then when the next diet fad comes around, they try that one for a few weeks, then they stop. This is called “yo-yo dieting” and it isn’t healthy. It most certainly doesn’t produce results.

But guess what…this is exactly how most MSPs approach their marketing.

They try something for a month or two, then they give up. They try something else. They give up. And it’s not really the MSP’s fault for this — the marketing industry is so full of shiny trinkets and false promises and “magic bullets” that it’s hard for you to maintain consistency and actually stay focused on the tried-and-true fundamentals.

But just like with nutrition, bouncing around from fad to fad doesn’t work. You have to make commitments to improving yourself, you have to stick to it, same with improving your business — you don’t want to be a marketing tourist either, jumping from one “awesome new tool” to the next. You will never, ever get results that way.

Marketing should be an integral part of your business. Top to bottom. You should never, ever view it as something you can flip a switch on and off for when it’s convenient. Same reason why “nutrition”, long term management of the food we eat, always beats a “diet”.

The number one marketing mistake in the channel is simply not sticking to it. It’s a long-term investment in your business that you have to take seriously.

best msp marketing

2. Put in the Time

Here’s a big similarity between marketing and fitness: everyone wants results yesterday.

Any fitness expert will tell you that you just can’t get instant results. You have to work within the limits of biology and reality — and you have to get the most out of the fundamentals.

And honest fitness experts will always start with the fundamentals: You want to lose weight? You fix your nutrition and you workout. You want to bulk up? You fix your nutrition and you workout. You want to be more competitive in a sport? You fix your nutrition and you workout.

And then you do this for a long enough period of time for results to show. And everyone is different. Every business and every body responds differently to the work. But you embrace the basics and listen to the right people and commit to improvement and the results will come.

And here’s something else people forget to take into account with marketing…where they’re starting of absolutely matters.

Think about this. You’ve got two people trying to get into shape:

One is an athlete who has been fit all his life and is recovering from a leg injury that had him grounded for a year. Now he’s overweight, lost strength, lost balance, etc.

The other is a guy who is a hundred pounds overweight, never worked out, eats fast food every day. He’s just really unhealthy and wants to get into shape.

If they both start making the lifestyle changes and putting in the work, who do you think will hit their goals faster? Yeah, duh.

We have MSPs come to us that have never done any marketing. They have no email lists, no contacts, no prospects. They’ve never done a case study. They have no marketing tools, no marketing experience. They have no brand or brand strategy. No differentiators. No positioning in their market…

And then they expect us to make them a marketing powerhouse in a matter of months. That’s the same as the obese guy who has never eaten a vegetable in his life saying “I’m finally ready to start thinking about my health, I want to look like Ryan Reynolds in a year.”


But marketers want to make money and there are far more predatory marketing companies out there than there are honest ones. Same as fitness and supplement companies. They’re real quick to tell people what they want to hear just to get that sale.

Take GNC as an example. This is a retail store that is packed wall to wall with supplements that you can pay upwards of $50 a jar for — and almost NONE OF THEM work as claimed. At best, these supplements might give you a 4-5% edge in reaching your goal.  But people want to believe in shortcuts. People want to believe in hacks. And most marketers make their living preying on that hope, that promise. Same as most fitness companies.

We won’t lie to you. If you want to work with us, you have to accept the reality of the situation and realize that if you’ve neglected marketing and sales enablement for 10 years, we CAN and WILL help you, but you have a LOT of catching up to do.

That’s just how it works.


3. Avoid the Snake Oil

Going back to how misleading the fitness and marketing industries are now, you absolutely must develop a threshold for recognizing BS. If you want real results and you want to push through a long-term growth plan, you cannot be distracted by snake oil and shiny objects.

You will get 20 emails a day telling you about the newest, latest, greatest most amazing marketing gimmick to hit the streets. You will be lavished with narratives and case studies about how this “amazing course on sales funnels revolutionized the world.”

This is no different than all that junk in GNC sitting on the shelves. The packaging looks cool. They have celebrity endorsements. They have testimonials. They have a salesperson telling you how great it is…but none of it means anything.

Because marketing and fitness both take time to show results, they are lucrative industries for selling BS. You have to become a master at telling the difference between putting in the time and wasting time.

Think about the very overweight guy who starts getting into shape. It will probably be months before he sees anything close to a result. And it’ll be years before he hits his goal. But he knows that the process takes time and if he sticks to it, he will eventually get there.

But then you have the overweight guy who tries to cut corners with tricks and gimmicks. He doesn’t want to do the fundamentals because they’re not flashy and he’s not getting 10 emails a day about them. So he buys a bottle of magic pills and starts taking them. He will NEVER see results, but because it’s fitness related and fitness takes time, he will keep buying them and taking them for months before he finally accepts that he bought a bottle of bullshit.

Don’t be that guy. Marketing is not a mystery. We know what works and what doesn’t. We know how to build marketing machines . And it’s not the gimmicks. It’s never been the gimmicks.


4. Focus on the Right Steps

I’m sure you already know some of the steps you will need to take to start marketing your MSP. There are two things that are talked about regularly when it comes to MSP marketing that you should put on your to-do list:

Content Marketing

Developing Funnels

Neither of these concepts are new. We’ve been preaching lead gen funnels for many years. They’re   basic digital marketing concept and if you come from a marketing background, you know how to use funnels.

Now here’s the tricky part. Don’t get hung up on these two things. Neither content marketing or funnels are a complete marketing strategy. They’re little ideas within a much bigger picture. Think of them like the cardio portion of your fitness plan….they’re essential, but you still need to figure in your weight training, nutrition, agility training, stretching, and a few other things.

And just like cardio, you should not be spending that much time focused on content and funnels. Seriously, there’s only so much optimizing you can do with these ideas before you’re wasting time on minutiae. They are so simple they’re almost trivial.

So simple we’re giving them away for free. (Join the MSP Growth Club to get access!)

So there. Really, content is the easy part. Building funnels is simple. You get on schedule and just let it rip. Then stop thinking about them so much.

Free up your mind to think about the other 80% of the marketing mix that will elevate you above your competitors. It’s exactly the same as nutrition. Nutrition is one of the most critical parts of fitness, regardless of the sport…regardless of your goals…what you eat is fundamental.

“Branding adds spirit and a soul to what would otherwise be a robotic, automated, generic price-value proposition. If branding is ultimately about the creation of human meaning, it follows logically that it is the humans who must ultimately provide it.” – David Aaker

5. Embrace the Fundamentals

Imagine our overweight friend decides he wants six-pack abs. So he decides to start doing an hour of core work every day. Situps, leg raises, planks. And that’s all he does. He doesn’t change his diet. He doesn’t do any other exercises.

SPOILER ALERT: He will never have abs. He’s focusing on the wrong thing.

Now imagine when he doesn’t get results, he starts tweaking HOW he does the planks and the crunches. Maybe a little twist to engage the obliques. Adding a medicine ball to get 5% more muscle engagement… (you seeing the metaphor yet?)

This is the same thing that happens to MSPs who focus on posting to social media, sending emails, or SEO but never think about any of the other quadrants of the marketing mix, their positioning in the market, or their brand strategy.

They’re doing an important exercise, but because they’re ignoring so many fundamentals, they might as well not be doing anything.

Then some “marketing expert” comes along and says “oh it isn’t working because you need to use this color button and this type of call-to-action.” They want you to start optimizing the most trivial parts of what should be a much more in-depth marketing strategy. Just like the dummy who thinks “tweaking” his ab routine will make his gut disappear. Use this kind of button. Post this time of day. Sure, tweaks can improve numbers by a few points, but what’s 5% of nothing?

More marketers need to stop being greedy and speak this truth — something is NOT better than nothing when it comes to marketing. There are established fundamentals that must be embraced to rise above that level of “doing nothing”.

Take these statements:

“I want to look like Arnold Schwartzenegger so I’m going to start doing ten pushups a day.”

“I want to lose 50 pounds so I’m going to stop eating ice cream once a week.”

“I want to run a marathon next year so I’m going to start walking a mile a day.”

Are these things better than nothing? Not really. They’re so minimal that they will make zero actual progress toward the goal. They’re insignificant in the bigger picture. 

“I want to grow my MSP so I’m going to start posting to social media five times a week.”

Is this better than nothing? No, because it just makes you feel like you’re doing marketing. Posting some things to social media is not a growth strategy. And you can tack on some “tweaks” like automated follow-ups and rich metrics, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re doing something minor to try to hit a very high goal.

Depending on how you’re doing it, it might not even count as marketing. Ask the thousands of MSPs who have been doing it for years and NEVER seen a lead from it.

Growing your business is a holistic concept. You can’t just slap some basic digital marketing on an MSP with no brand, no synergy, and no growth strategy and expect it to start piling up the leads — no more than an overweight person can start doing crunches and expect their abs to suddenly show up. It’s ludicrous to think this will happen.

It’s insane at any level of progress. Look at the most fit person you know. Look at a bodybuilder.

Do you think they spend more than a few minutes thinking about how to “optimize” doing a squat? No, because they’re thinking about the bigger picture. The squat is just one of many exercises. And they’re also thinking about their cardio, their nutrition, their supplementing… the whole ecosystem. If they just obsessed about doing a perfect squat, they wouldn’t get squat out of their workout. You learn how to do it right — takes about five minutes — then you do them and you move on.

Same with marketing. You don’t need to obsess over content calendars or funnels. Just learn how to do them and then do them. Then move on. We can show you this stuff in 20 minutes. It’s not hard.

But you NEED the bigger picture…

The Fundamentals are Key in Remix Marketing

Yes, it takes more brain power.

Yes, you will need to rise above the cookie-cutter MSP.

But what you get is actual strategic marketing and sales enablement built around the fundamentals. You get concrete improvements in your positioning and image.

“You own a brand. You only rent promotion.” – J.P. Roe

That’s why we’re able to come into an MSP that’s already using a digital marketing agency and improve their results. We do the building while they do the promotional legwork.

And building that equity is critical. If a digital marketing company leaves you, they take your whole marketing engine with them. It’s like they were never there. Some of them will even take all your leads with them and sell them to their next client.

We spend all of our time building your brand and building your sales engine. It’s building equity for you not for us. It’s the difference between owning and renting.

You get the relief of knowing that you’re not following some guru or some passing trend, you’re working with marketers who have decades of training and experience in marketing. People who know the fundamentals. People who know this stuff inside and out.

You don’t have to roll the dice to work with us. Inside the MSP Growth Club portal there’s a FREE workshop with our team. We will start you out at no charge with zero obligation. All you have to do is a click a few buttons and clear some space in your calendar. ???

1 thought on “No Brain, No Gain! Breaking MSP Marketing Plateaus in 2021”

  1. Pingback: Do You Own or Rent Your Marketing? | MSP Marketing, Web Design, and Consulting

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