New Year’s Resolution #1: Leverage Other People’s Advertising And Client Relationships
A favorite strategy of mine is the JV (joint venture) or promotional partnership, where you find a mutually beneficial way to co-promote your services with another noncompetitive company, association or person. It is essentially how I was able to launch my business when I was flat-broke and without any funds to invest in marketing (or much else for that matter).
Here’s an example from a promotion I received as a Southwest Rapid Rewards client: They introduced me to a ready-made meal delivery subscription service called Home Chef. I’d never heard of this service, but I am a frequent flyer of Southwest (thanks to them being the only airline with a direct flight to my Florida beach house), and therefore they get the benefit of riding on my relationship with and trust of the airline (because it’s a known brand).
The offer was to get 10% off my first order, plus an additional 6,000 Rapid Rewards bonus points for buying – so Southwest is throwing in with the offer. An important point I want to make is that ready-to-go meal delivery has absolutely nothing to do with flights, but that doesn’t take away from this promotion at all.
As an MSP would have obvious JV partners, such as telephony companies or application development or office equipment firms not selling IT support. Others would be insurance brokers who sell cyber liability or crime insurance or companies selling other outsourced services like accounting, payroll, legal, HR, recruiting, etc. But there are less obvious promotional partners to co-promote your services with that sell to a similar client but don’t offer what you do – the key is to make sure the CUSTOMER they serve is the same type of customer you want as a client. What they sell is irrelevant.
New Year’s Resolution #2: Steal More Good Ideas
I offer you a different type of marketing example: an approach I’m sure you’ve seen. Realtors send out postcards of homes they’ve sold to neighborhoods they are targeting (their “farm” list). Naturally, the recipient is curious to see what homes are selling for in their area, and even more curious if the price is above list.
I have a LOT to fix on this campaign, but the general idea is solid. YOU could use this too whenever you meet with a current client (the “5-Around Drop” strategy, a form of canvassing where you “drop” a campaign off at prospects’ offices that are in the same building as or next to your client) or whenever you get a new client, which would be a direct lift from this idea.
Aside: you ought to buy from companies online to get on their mailing lists. I get about a pound of direct mail every day because I buy stuff via mail order and make sure, when making an online purchase, I indicate that in the How Did You Hear About Us? field if they have it. (The smart ones do.)
New Year’s Resolution #3: Don’t Skip Steps
If you’re going to use a recipe, imitate before you innovate. This is unfortunately an all too typical example: We get an e-mail from a member asking for our critique of a campaign that’s not working. He says he’s “doing everything you’ve told me to do.” Except he didn’t clean the list. Except he didn’t make calls to follow up. Except he’s not doing the LinkedIn step. Except he changed the headline. Except he left off testimonials because he didn’t have any and didn’t want to wait to get some to send it. Except he didn’t create a landing page on his website for the prospect to go to. Except he’s not answering his phones live as I’ve specifically instructed.
Other than that, he’s following my advice precisely, and I dare not point out all the failings because then he’ll become defensive, saying I’m trying to cover for my failed marketing campaign. I don’t mean to beat up on anyone who’s trying – but you cannot take a chocolate cake recipe and leave out the eggs, butter, put in only half the cocoa, and expect it to come out right.
New Year’s Resolution #4: Invest In Your Money Team
Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen an increase in what are being called “Super MSPs.” They’re MSPs that are buying up other MSPs (or joining forces) to create bigger, more lucrative businesses to compete more aggressively. Iconic, formed by a group of my members, did just that and are now part of a $100 million nationwide MSP. Good news for them, not so good news for the smaller MSPs trying to compete against them.
So, how do you survive? YOU GROW. I stand by my principle that you want to be a R.E.A.L. entrepreneur vs. a T.E.C.H. with helpers. Real entrepreneurs invest in hiring and building a MONEY team (sales and marketing) so they can continue to grow the organization and more effectively compete. No, this is not easy, but it beats going out of business or surviving on the scraps of the market that you’ll end up with if a smart, sales-driven CEO leading a well-run MSP sets their eyes on the market you play in.
New Year’s Resolution #5: Hustle Harder
Most of the MSPs in our group ended this year with sales and profits UP by more than 12% despite the ongoing Covid cop-out, the “great resignation,” supply chain issues, out-of-control inflation, etc., etc. However, here’s something I see that many are not going to like hearing from me: many in this industry are enjoying a bit of undeserved prosperity.
The IT industry, unlike many others, is thriving. You have to be totally, royally screwing up and doing absolutely nothing from a sales and marketing perspective if you’re not growing some. Yes, there are IT firms still struggling, losing clients and going out of business – but the hard truth is, that’s ALL on them. For those who are doing okay and growing some, they have the “belly full” problem. They’re not that hungry; if they were, they’d be investing a lot more money, time and effort into sales and marketing.
I watch people get handed breakthrough ideas all the time, only to have them shrugged off, and forgotten on the cutting-room floor. The response is NOT to run out of the room like a screaming banshee to get it implemented. The response is “Meh.” Most pay only fleeting attention to such good ideas, sustain only brief enthusiasm, then drop it altogether, reverting back to what they were doing before or, worse, move on to the next shiny object that catches their attention.
At the an event I once hosted with Marcus Lemonis, founder of the billion-dollar companies Camping World and Good Sam, there were DOZENS of seriously good ideas, strategies and moneymaking ideas not only from Marcus, but also Fred Voccola, who I had speak and deliver an investor pitch to the audience. LOTS of money coming in, LOTS of opportunities for MSPs. ALL positive.
It’s often rumored that I don’t sleep. I do, but not much. I’ve never put out the B.S. facade of the four-hour-workweek rich guru who’s SO smart I have money coming to me without my doing much of anything. If you want an instant bullshit detector, it’s this: anyone selling you “Make more while working less.” YES, there are ways to be more efficient and make more with less work – but the difference is that you do that so you are freed up to invest that time into other growth areas, not to lounge by your swimming pool while being fanned and eating peeled grapes.
New Year’s Resolution #6: Invest More Into Your Skills And Education
Here’s a response we often hear from struggling MSPs when it comes to investing in helpful information, seminars, and training: I can’t afford it. If you want ONE area to never be cheap about, it’s investing in your own education and skill development.
A good question: What have you learned about running a successful business this last year that you didn’t know before and what skills have you strengthened? Most can’t even answer that because they’ve simply continued to do what they normally do.
Another question I have gotten: If I can only afford to invest in one of your programs, which one should I get? My answer is, if that’s how you’re going to behave, then none. Save your money for retirement ’cause you’re gonna need it. You should invest in ALL of them, then implement them like hell. The one thing about what we deliver is that it returns an exponential ROI that lives on. What else in your business can help you grow and profit more than the marketing and sales strategies we deliver?
Buffett said the single best investment is in your own education because it’s the one investment that multiplies over time and can’t be taxed, stolen, overtaken by a competitor, or diminished (unless you allow it to be). WHY would you put a restraint on that?
New Year’s Resolution #7: Be FAR More Disciplined With Your Productivity
If you want to know what one of my major areas of focus will be this coming year, it’s this: managing my productivity. I deliberately didn’t say “time.” You can’t manage time – you can’t pause it, stretch it, buy more of it, slow it down or modify it in any way. The only control you have is over your own personal productivity – what you do with the limited hours you’re given.
The first step in tackling this is, of course, knowing what your priorities are, then ensuring you do things every day that are driving toward that at the cost of everything else. This is much harder than you think when you’re surrounded by screaming monkeys launching flaming turds at you minute by minute with clients, employees, family and personal “musts” tugging on your pant leg all the while.
Often there are multiple critical things to get done – and your job is to figure out which are the truly unmovable “musts” and which can be paused and pushed back. A litmus test: you’re saying “no” more than you’re saying “yes.” You also have to be very intentional that some of the “non-urgent but important” stuff gets time and attention, such as marketing, hiring, building a sales team and otherwise working ON the business, or you’ll let your day be filled with client work and current business maintenance and nothing else.
The inability to set goals, prioritize work and manage yourself to those priorities is a big reason why so many businesses stay small. It’s hard. This is why it’s a never-ending mission for me to better organize and prioritize my efforts. It’s always nice to have a fresh, new, virgin calendar that is wide open with 52 weeks to get stuff done. That’s 365 days, 8,760 hours and 525,600 minutes. Sounds like a lot, but entrepreneurs are very, very conscious of how quickly time evaporates and how easy it is to let time slip by without making progress.
I think about these things constantly and know that other high-performance people do too. We are obsessed with hyper-productivity on top of working a LOT of hours. Yes, it has drawbacks and sacrifices – but I’d much rather make sacrifices for an important mission and life accomplishment than fritter away hours on meaningless activities and empty wandering through the easy path.