it channel marketing

MSP Marketing: Digging a Well That Sustains Your Business

About a year ago, we added something important to our marketing messaging. Not so much because we were doing something new, but because we began to recognize a bit of value that we weren’t openly communicating to our clients and prospects.

(Just like we tell MSPs, we’re constantly examining exactly how and where we’re delivering value so that we can communicate these nuances to our audience.)

What we noticed at the time was that we, unlike the majority of marketing companies, were giving our clients valuable assets that became their permanent property. We built things for them that they could keep — forever — whether they continued to pay us or not. 

That’s a big deal. You see, one of the biggest complaints we hear from MSPs who come to us is that their last marketing company took everything with them when they parted ways. They took their lead list. They took their email contacts. They took their website, their landing pages, their materials.

Marketing agencies do this to keep their clients tied up in contracts, obviously. It’s not done for any practical reason other than to hold the MSP hostage. Pretty unethical. 

We don’t work that way. We spell it out right in our agreement that once we’ve turned something over to a client, it’s their property. 

One of the most important reasons why this matters to the MSP is because we help them create and build their brand. If what we create wasn’t completely given over to our client, it couldn’t become the integral part of their entire operation that needs to be. 

So we added that idea to our messaging. We give our clients ownership of their marketing. They’re not renting it from us, we’re more like contractors that are on their property building something to order. We wanted to make that clear because, again, 99% of marketing agencies in this space do not work that way. You’re not buying anything from them, simply renting some services. When you stop paying, all of that value instantly disappears. 

Now, the funny thing is that whenever we do anything, a few of our competitors scramble to try to match our steps. For instance, when we started focusing on MSP brand strategy about two years ago, suddenly every MSP marketing agency added that term on their website. Bear in mind that they didn’t actually do anything related to brand strategy, but they made sure to act like they could to fool MSPs into making false comparisons. 

I noticed the other day that the same thing has happened with our messaging about lasting value. Once we started talking about building value in marketing that you own, not wasting money on marketing you’re renting, some of our competitors changed their websites to use almost the exact same wording

The problem here is that these marketing agencies clearly have no problem with deceiving MSPs. When they see that we’re doing something better or differently than they are, they rush to put on an act to stay competitive…but they don’t actually change their playbook. They’re writing checks their skills can’t cash. 

So, because I hate seeing MSPs lured in with lies, I wanted to take a few moments to better clarify what we mean when we say “building lasting value in marketing that you own”. I want you to fully understand why that’s valuable and how we do it, because when you understand it, you will be able to see that these other marketing companies who make the same claims really aren’t doing it at all.

Digging a Well Versus Turning on a Faucet

Most people tend to look at lead generation like a utility. They see it like electricity or water in their office — just make it so I can flip a switch and the leads come in! 

In some ways, marketing agencies want that to be the case. We would all love to be able to plumb some digital pipeline where all we have to do is run a pipe into your office and turn a valve. In fact, many MSP marketing agencies act like that’s exactly what they’re doing because the idea is just so alluring. 

Marketing doesn’t actually work that way — but just for the sake of our metaphor, let’s pretend it does. Let’s say leads are a natural resource gathered in some aquifer somewhere and all marketers have to do is create a connection from that resource to your office. 

With the vast majority of digital marketing agencies, they build that connection the way I described above. They connect you to a main line that they own, they turn a valve, and they install a faucet. 

Great! But do you own any of that? 

Not at all. The moment you stop paying them, the marketing agency shuts the valve and takes back your faucet. You’re right back where you started with absolutely no connection to that natural resource. 

Worse yet, you don’t even have to stop paying them for this to happen. Digital marketing is finicky. Most of what digital marketers rely on isn’t owned by them, much less by you. Google AdWords? SEO? Directories? Facebook ads? LinkedIn? Email platforms? All of these things are outside of anyone’s control beyond who actually owns them. Facebook can shut down your ads for any reason. Your email platform can revoke or throttle your sending privileges whenever they feel like it. Google can, and will, change their algorithm. Directory owners will squeeze you dry with damn-near exploitative pricing. 

In other words, that faucet is a very unreliable pathway to a vital natural resource. 

Now look at the way we approach MSP marketing with our clients. We don’t want to plumb them into some main line that we don’t control. We want to help you dig a well directly into that metaphorical aquifer full of leads. When you dig your own well, no one can take that resource away from you. Not even us.

We work to make our clients self-sufficient enough that they can survive “off the grid” in a marketing sense. You don’t get there by renting. You get there by owning, building, and creating. 

Think of the common thread of those words: Owning. Building. Creating.

These are words of substance and permanence. These are solid words with deep roots. And these words only have meaning when they’re applied to things that are, themselves, rooted and permanent. 

The most deeply-rooted, powerful, and robust aspect of your marketing is your image. Your brand identity. Who you are and what you bring to the market.

That is how you dig a well. By deliberately appealing to the market by bringing it some unique value that no one else is offering. When you dig that well, you’re not even sharing that aquifer with other companies — it’s all yours. And that, my friends, is what marketing is really about.

Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty

There’s an obvious advantage to having a faucet installed versus digging a well: it’s easier.

I will never argue that the typical digital marketing company doesn’t make it seem easy; I only argue against the effectiveness and long-term viability of their approach. 

But many unwary MSPs end up signing contracts with digital marketers of some variety because they’re desperate. When you’re already dying of thirst, you don’t care where the water comes from…you just want to see a faucet. 

This leads to some pretty poor decision making, though. Survivors on life rafts drink salt water and die because they’re desperate. Contestants on ‘Naked and Afraid’ drink brown water full of animal poop because they’re desperate and end up in the hospital. And we all know what Bear Grylls will do when he’s thirsty.

Waiting until you’re already in trouble is not the path to rational long-term strategic decisions. 

Again, I’m biased because of my marketing background, but I can’t even fathom starting a business without first building a robust brand strategy that will guide every decision I make. It’s simple logic. Would you build a town without first knowing there’s access to a source of freshwater?

You dig the well and get your vital resource before you need it. 

With that said, I implore you not to make the common and often ruinous mistake of waiting until your pipeline has dried up to contact us. Be smarter than that. Dig your well before you’re dying of thirst. 

Quality of Leads: How Pure is Your Water?

Another common complaint from MSPs who have turned to us: The leads they were getting from their previous efforts were terrible. (Grandma calling to ask about dropped Skype calls is not a lead, but some agencies seem to think it counts.)

The less ownership you have of your lead generation and marketing, the less control you have over the quality of any given portion of it. That means you often end up with useless leads when they finally do start showing up.

This is yet another great thing about building a brand. Your brand is a natural qualifier and sales tool. It’s one of the most critical components working towards ensuring your marketing is doing what it’s actually supposed to do: increase revenue.

That’s why lead generation alone is not marketing. Lead generation is only a flow of traffic. True marketing is a process that qualifies and compels. If your marketing is done correctly, consumers should already be thinking about signing an agreement by the time they get to your salesperson. They should know what value you bring, and they should actively be seeking that value.

When your marketing is done right, sales becomes the easiest part of your growth plan. 

But you don’t get this effect from traditional digital marketing that’s largely focused on just driving traffic. Their goal is to get people to call you, not to get the right people to call you because they want to work with you. There is a huge difference between those objectives! 

If you’re ready to switch from a faucet to a well so that the leads you’re getting are people who are already aware of your unique value and ready to work with you, get on a call with us. It won’t be like any marketing call you’ve ever had.


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