Before I explain this cryptic headline, I want to say something a bit personal that applies to my readers and followers:
There are hundreds of blogs about MSP marketing that you could be looking at right now. I want to thank you for landing on this one and taking the time to give it a read. In exchange for your valuable time, I make it my purpose to deliver information and opinions that you can’t get on any of those thousands of other blogs.
I want the people who read my articles to have a genuine advantage over the people who don’t. Otherwise, what’s the point? I’m far too busy to recycle other marketers’ content — and you’re far too busy to read fluff pieces.
This article stands as an example of how I strive to get you ahead of the curve when it comes to growing your business. I can assure you that what you’re about to read will be repeated ad infinitum by everyone else in the channel sometime in the next six months. It happens all the time — because marketing is a game where you have to think ten moves ahead. And yes, I generally think ten moves ahead of all of the professed marketing gurus in the MSP space.
It’s Time to Stop Selling IT Services
This is one of my famously prophetic statements that I guarantee will catch on really soon. By reading it now, you’re going to be able to leverage this information before it becomes the status quo.
Over the last few months, I’ve made this statement to MSP owners, vendors, channel evangelists, and several marketing company CEOs — and not one of them could argue against it. Why?
Because it’s pretty logical when you think about it.
The IT channel has hit a point where market saturation is a real thing. The vast majority of your addressable audience already has an IT company. They don’t need to be sold on the idea of managed services!
Someone else already did that work for you.
So all of this content and all of this messaging about “why you need an MSP” or “what data backups can do for you” is obsolete. It doesn’t fit into this stage of the industry life cycle. People know it. People have already bought it.
If you want to survive in a competitive market, you need to stop selling your product and start selling your business.
Again — this is why you need a brand. MSPs can no longer thrive without one because your brand is the only thing left to sell. And if your brand is your true product, most MSPs are trying to sell a pretty awful product.
The Difference Between Selling Your Product and Selling Your Brand
I pass a billboard every day that catches my attention. It’s the following phrase emblazoned in the shape of a smile on a white background:
“Isn’t it time to see your dentist?”
I see it. I remember it. It has good heuristics and it’s simple enough to leave an impression when I’m flying by it on my way to wherever.
But the problem is that I couldn’t tell you which dentist is advertising on that billboard even though I’ve seen it a thousand times. The damn thing worked so well that I actually couldn’t get the idea of scheduling a dentist appointment out of my head — but all it made me do is schedule with the last dentist I went to.
This is a win for dental hygiene, but a waste of money for whichever dentist is paying for that sign.
And that’s exactly where most MSP marketing is at. When you advertise products and solutions, you’re just telling people to seek out those solutions. They’re probably going to stick with their current IT provider, or call up whichever one they talked to last.
In many cases, your marketing budget is doing the hard work for someone else.
Stop Selling the Idea of the MSP and Start Telling People Why You’re Better
When I first got into MSP marketing about seven or eight years ago, almost all of the marketing was about the MSP as an idea.
Why You Should Switch to Managed Services
Ten Reasons Why Managed Services Saves You Money
Managed Services vs. Break/Fix
These were the headlines and the ebook titles de jour. The driving idea behind MSP marketing was education. Specifically, educating the end user on what MSPs are and what benefits come with using one.
This is no different than spending a bunch of money to advertise oral health but not giving the audience any reason to seek out your dental practice. Is your marketing meant to be a public service announcement, or are you trying to get more clients?
The Future of MSP Marketing
I’m telling you right now, without a doubt, that the future of MSP marketing lies in brand strategy. I know this with full confidence because this is how the lifecycle of every industry in history has played out. If history isn’t enough evidence, one need only look at the IT channel right now to see my point.
You are no longer fighting to convince people that they need managed services. That fight has been won. Your fight is to convince people that they need you.
And for those who still struggle to understand what a brand really is…it’s your means to communicate exactly that point: this is why you choose us, not them.
Your run of the mill digital marketing agencies are not qualified to help you at this point. Digital marketing is a discipline based on raising awareness, not communicating value. It’s about volume. That’s why so many MSPs are pumping money into digital marketing and not seeing results — because if you’re not telling people why they need you, you’re just paying to inform the public about managed IT. You’re advertising for everyone — even your competitors.
I love talking about this stuff. If you’d like to get on a call and discuss this topic — or anything else related to brands and marketing — please don’t hesitate to schedule a meeting. I don’t do sales pitches.