It’s common knowledge that many IT service providers struggle with marketing. But wait – that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not good at it. Only that their approach can be retooled to get even better results. On that note, let’s take a look at some of the biggest marketing mistakes MSPs must be careful to avoid.
1. Failure to Grasp the Basics
Some companies drop the ball with marketing because they simply fumble the basic fundamentals. They don’t understand the importance of aligning marketing efforts with business objectives. Or why you should design those efforts around the needs of your target audience. Or how to leverage your unique value proposition to stand out from the crowd. We can’t all be blessed with marketing guru savvy. But getting a handle on the basics will help you develop a working marketing strategy that represents your brand and conveys a consistent message to your target market across all channels.
2. Insufficient Content Strategy
You’re at a major disadvantage if you’re lacking in content. Content gives your brand substance. Engaging blog posts, videos, and email campaigns will help you attract and fulfill the needs of leads seeking information. Lay out your business objectives and allow them to be your guide in the content creation process. None of these pieces have to be long, fancy, or complicated. Whatever you decide on, make sure every piece is well thought out and offers tangible value to the content consumer. Your audience will come to trust you over time and view your business as a precious resource they can count on.
3. Mishandling Leads
Generating leads is one thing. Nurturing leads is another. Once a prospect expresses interest you can either blow it or move one step closer to sealing the deal. It’s a marketer’s job to convert that interest into a surefire desire to do business. Below are three ways MSPs can improve the lead nurturing process:
1. Create prospect profiles: Outline a few steps for handling the typical prospect(s) so you can effectively service the specific needs of leads who respond to your marketing message.
2. Be diligent in your follow-up: Don’t be shy. Be prepared to contact prospects as many as three times after they reach out with an initial response.
3. Don’t come on too strong: Marketing requires a careful balance of diligence and amiability. The last thing you want to do is appear so aggressive that you turn prospects away.
4. Inefficient Web Design
You don’t have to take the social media plunge. You don’t necessarily need to publish a new blog post every week. What you do need is a website that aims to turn visitors into clients. No exceptions. From capturing contact information to closing the deal, your company website should double as a digital headquarters and conversion machine. Carrying on with the theme of wisdom coming in trios, here are three ways MSPs can create a conversion-friendly website:
1. Drive traffic: Make sure your website and content are designed with today’s search engine optimization standards in mind. Then go one step further and invest in some off-page strategies that drive traffic beyond SEO.
2. Keep design simple: All the bells and whistles are at your disposal, but simple and straightforward usually works best for professional websites. Distractions like ads, resource-hungry scripts, and other complex technologies will likely hinder the web browsing experience more than anything.
3. Make conversions easy: The landing pages of your website should be specifically designed to convert. Make sure visitors have an easy way to register, download a white paper, buy something, or perform whatever other actions you want them to take.
5. Too Much Focus on Features, and Not Enough on Benefits
IT providers often serve customers who are very technical by nature. No matter how technically inclined they may be, you have to keep in mind that customers are hoping your technology will solve a specific business problem for them, or at least help reduce friction in one or more areas of their business. Instead of focusing on all the sophisticated specs and features, help them realize the advantages of your products or services in terms of business outcomes your customers understand. They’ll be more excited and eager to do business with you when they realize what bottome line benefits lie on the end user side of the service agreement.
6. Too Much Jargon
Speaking of being overly technical, complexity should also be avoided in your marketing message and client communications. Chances are, you’re a wealth of knowledge with firsthand familiarity with all the ins and outs of the technology at hand. That’s great, but that expertise can backfire when your excessive usage of industry jargon and buzzwords turns people off. You shouldn’t talk down to your audience either, so know that the perfect balance can usually be found somewhere in the middle. That’s where you converse with your audience as peers that you treat as you’d want to be treated.
7. Lack of Marketing Direction
Not every MSP has the luxury of a fully staffed marketing department. Still, it helps to have a marketing team assembled from the personnel best suited for the job. CEOs, sales managers, and public relations strategists may be useful in the decision making process, but are they truly cut out for marketing? Can they contribute to the development of website copy, webinar presentations, and advertising campaigns? Get valuable input wherever you can find it. Take advice from team members that demonstrate the necessary creative thinking to get the most return from today’s marketing tools trends.
8. Poor Budget Planning
Foundation Capital has projected that technology marketing revenue will reach $120 billion by 2025. The industry is clearly spending, but there is a huge difference between proper budgeting and simply throwing money at a problem. MSPs can maximize their marketing investments by keeping three budget points in mind:
1. Budget amount: Firms may spend anywhere from 1 to 50 percent of their sales on marketing. Some even use their competition as a guideline for budget planning. There is no right or wrong formula, but coming up with an actual figure is necessary to avoid overspending and other budgeting issues.
2. Budget focus: A marketing budget should cover everything from print media and public relations to SEO and booth rental on the trade show circuit. Don’t forget to allocate a portion for things like conducting market research, creating customer profiles, and the cost of incentive programs.
3. Budget restructuring: Your budget should be as dynamic as your marketing plan itself. Whether revisited on an annual or quarterly basis, make sure your marketing budget is restructured around important events such as the launch of new services, upcoming conventions, or seasonal spending trends.
Could achieving greater success be as simple as avoiding common marketing pitfalls? You better believe it! By making a commitment to marketing, MSPs can worry less about where new clients are coming from and focus more on servicing clients as they roll in on a consistent basis.