If you're in the managed IT services business, it's because you're an IT expert.
However, being a successful MSP also requires mastering lead generation and B2B marketing. And because MSP sales training opportunities are few and far between, these can be difficult skills to acquire.
That said, with the right B2B lead generation tactics, you can master this part of running an MSP business. Here's a look at several B2B marketing strategies that can benefit MSPs.
Unless you have a special gift, you probably hate making cold calls. They can be awkward. They may also seem like a primitive marketing strategy in today's highly digitized, automated era.
Yet the fact remains that cold calling still works when done properly and used in the right context. Cold calling is an especially useful B2B lead generation tactic for small businesses whose ability to reach customers in other ways is limited.
Cold calling also tends to be particularly productive in smaller towns and cities, where potential clients are less likely to come into contact with advertising, referrals and other ways of learning about your business.
Training your sales staff with cold-calling techniques that are proven to work is important in order to make cold calling successful. Trying to develop your own call scripts from scratch, or expecting your sales stuff to teach themselves the right way to do cold calling, will lead to wasted time, and ultimately wasted money and sales opportunities.
Cold Calling Summary
Why it's valuable:
- It's an inexpensive way of reaching prospects.
- You build personal contacts.
- Leads are cold.
- Some prospects will be turned off by cold calls.
- Effective cold calling requires a special gift, or lots of training.
Speaking of referrals, they remain the gold standard for generating qualified leads in B2B marketing. Prospective clients who learn about your business from satisfied customers form a positive impression from the start and are likely to want to work with you.
Of course, referral leads are also among the most difficult B2B marketing resources to leverage. You can't force your existing customers to say nice things about you to their friends. You can, however, encourage them by, for example, maintaining an active social media presence so that customers can comment on your posts by saying nice things about you. You might also offer customers a discount for referrals that they send your way.
Referral Leads Summary
Why it's valuable:
- You get high-quality leads.
- Requires you to have an established, satisfied customer base.
- Enticing customers to recommend you may require expenditures, such as discounts.
Pay-per-click, or PPC, campaigns can also feel somewhat primitive today. Banner ads were one of the first types of online advertisements to become widespread. Investing in PPC campaigns may therefore make you feel like you are reliving the 1990s.
Yet PPC campaigns remain an effective way of reaching customers. They give your business wide exposure on the Internet at a relatively low cost in terms of time and money, compared to other types of B2B lead generation tactics.
Banner ads can be especially effective for managed IT services providers. MSP businesses and their customers basically live on the Web, so Web-based PPC campaigns are an obvious marketing strategy.
The cost of PPC campaigns can vary widely. You may be tempted to stick with lower-cost PPC solutions with the idea that you can place more ads in order to reach more potential customers, but this is usually a mistake. Lower-cost PPC campaigns result in ads that are less likely to reach websites visited by highly qualified leads, and less likely to be noticed by those leads if they do end up on the right sites.
PPC Campaign Summary
Why it's valuable:
- Effective way of reaching a target audience.
- Leads are often cold and difficult to engage.
- Can be costly and not worth the investment if campaigns are not properly targeted.
Blogging and Social Media
Maintaining an active blog and social media accounts is a lot of work -- and having stale accounts that aren't active is worse in many ways than not having them at all.
That said, blogs and social media activity are important parts of a lead generation funnel for MSPs. Their purpose is not to convert readers as much as increase the online presence of your business -- and, by extension, bolster its mindshare among potential customers.
A successful blogging and social media strategy starts with identifying the audience you want to reach and tailoring all of your content to that audience. The articles and posts you create should speak very specifically to the needs of that audience; indeed, it's better to be too specific than too general.
For example, if you want to reach SMBs in need of managed IT security services, a blog post such as "Today's Most Dangerous Cybersecurity Threats for Small Businesses" is more effective than a more generic article about "The 5 Biggest Cyberattacks of 2017." The first article would speak directly to the IT security concerns of SMBs, whereas the latter article would likely focus on enterprise-level cyberattacks that are not as relevant to SMBs.
It almost goes without saying that your blogging and social media strategy should be rooted in careful SEO analysis, too. Effective SEO will help your posts to rise above the noise for your target readership.
Blogging and Social Media Summary
Why it's valuable:
- Does not require major expenditures.
- Posts have the potential to go viral.
- Content needs to be high-quality and targeted to your prospective customers.
- You need a constant, up-to-date content flow to stay relevant.
Conclusion: Don't Overplan
On a parting note, we offer this advice: As you consider which B2B lead generation tactics are most effective for MSPs, don't make the mistake of overplanning. As noted above, there are several different types of B2B demand generation campaigns that can help your business. Deciding which ones to use might seem intimidating.
At the end of the day, however, all of these tactics are likely to be effective. Don't waste time overplanning; instead, start executing so that you can begin reaching more prospective customers today. You'll learn more about which MSP marketing campaigns work best as you go.
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