From A $13M Business To Considering Closing Shop
I was what most business owners strive to become. A $13 million business with some high-profile clients. But they say the bigger you are, the harder you fall. Boy, did we fall hard! We went through more ups, downs and pivots than a roller coaster. We were the tail and never the dog.
After all the bad deals, bankrupt clients, sunsetting product lines and distributor purges, there were just 12 of us left. After 17 years in business, we were right back to square one with no clear vision. Scared to death was an understatement. While it would have been cheaper and easier to shut it all down, I’m just too stubborn for that.
First, we had to fire a Fortune 250 client because we were upside down with the price. Next, another major client filed bankruptcy and left us holding the bag for over half a million dollars. Still stuck in our ways, our aha moment didn’t hit us until last summer when a client got slapped with a permanent injunction. Overnight, we lost $45K in MRR! We had no choice but to change.
It Was Finally Time To Become A True MSP
We had been swinging for the fences for 17 years. While running call centers provided major clients and lucrative deals, our revenue cratered when those giant companies fell. What we needed was a plan to create a SUSTAINABLE and PROFITABLE standalone business. We had two goals:
- Build a business where we controlled our own destiny and weren’t at the mercy of a couple of major clients
- Build a marketing engine to ensure predictable and continuous growth.
We really felt that our MSP business was the long-term winner. It was built slowly with referrals and word of mouth. But, all of our other business ventures had made us a damn good technology company, and our 98% retention rate proved our customers loved us.
Breaking Robin’s Rules
And Wondering When Results Would Come
Since we had been receiving Robin Robins’ marketing forever, we bought the Toolkit. Then we proceeded to do exactly what Robin warns not to do: we hired a salesperson and handed the Toolkit to him. We slowly made progress in marketing, but no new sales.
After years of hearing Robin’s message, attending events, talking to her team and watching her videos, we COMMITTED and attended the Rapid Implementation Workshop. To take on all of this new marketing, we promoted our appointment setter, Claudia, to marketing coordinator. We started building out our marketing engine as well as three additional tiers of cyber security.
Booking New Appointments Before Leaving Nashville!
While I attended the workshop in person with Claudia, our salesperson attended remotely. This worked out great since he was able to immediately work on the tasks from our home base. Our first assignment was the 9-Word E-mail Campaign. By the time we left Nashville, that single campaign resulted in multiple booked appointments with existing customers. These turned into upsell opportunities where we added $6K in new monthly recurring revenue!
Building Our Marketing Engine Quickly And Orderly
Yes, our heads were spinning after the Rapid Implementation Workshop. But those classes also grounded us because we could finally put first things first and build our marketing engine quickly but in an orderly way.
From an MSP that previously did zero marketing, we suddenly had our hands in EVERYTHING. Over the next few months, we established our presence on social media, created a brand new website and built out our marketing oil wells and drip marketing campaigns.
Our new “Robinized” website highlights our multiple MSP-focused services. Throughout the website, we feature the “10 Things We Do Better,” ten quality testimonials that speak to our MSP services and even a unique way to introduce our employees through their precious pets!
As for our drip marketing campaigns, we started with Robin’s Done-For-You TechTip Postcards. Next, we have been religious about e-mailing “Tuesday Tech Tips” to our customers as well as our list of prospects. On Fridays, we post compelling and targeted content on social media, which we boost on Facebook. While we struggled with our unique selling proposition, it finally came together after a few weeks of soul searching.
To set us apart from our competitors and improve our close rate, we followed the Technology Marketing Toolkit instructions to create our own Shock-And-Awe Box. Inside our box we include “10 Reasons To Choose eCreek Solutions Group,” Customer Bill of Rights, our money-back guarantee, a trifold brochure, FAQs and promotional items. We get a lot of comments about our over-the-top first impression, and it has helped to close multiple deals.
Aspirin, Band-Aids And Even Dinosaurs!
We always knew that if we were truly going to build a marketing engine, direct mail campaigns would be at the heart of it. We cleaned and scrubbed our list and started with Robin’s Aspirin Campaign. When we started, we were sending out 25 letters per week. Then we got to 50 a week and eventually sent out 200 every week.
Next, we modified the Aspirin campaign and made it our own by enclosing a cool little dinosaur puzzle inside. Then we stamped the envelope with “CAUTION: Dinosaur Inside!” Who’s not going to open THAT letter?! When they open the envelope, they see the puzzle and our catchy headline, “Is Your Current MSP Taking Your IT Environment The Way Of The Dinosaurs?”
Our Dinosaur Campaign really took off, and we got a great response. Problem was, we can’t find those same dang dinosaur puzzles anymore! Ugh! So, we are now switching to Robin’s Band-Aid Campaign in hopes we will continue to get a solid response.
Waiting For Results And Growing Impatient
Each week on the accountability call with our coach, other MSPs would share their wins: $3K in new MRR, a new $10K project, $6K in MRR, etc. It seemed like everyone was growing their business EXCEPT US. Sure, we picked up a few upsells here and there, but I felt like we were falling behind the rest of the Rapid Implementation class. They were clearly outselling us, and I was growing anxious.
But we didn’t give up. We stayed the course and were patient-ish. We trusted the process and kept building the marketing engine. We created repeatable routines and systems and got our message out. We increased frequency in our marketing, went out on sales calls and followed up on meetings and proposals. We kept working to improve our tracking and our tactics.
Finally… Pay Dirt!
What would YOU do if your marketing showed little results for three months straight? That’s the point when most would throw in the towel, declare marketing doesn’t work and go back to their old ways. That’s also why too many IT services firms struggle and eventually close their doors.
WE DIDN’T QUIT! In fact, we doubled-down. We invested in a marketing team. We built a marketing engine with five marketing oil wells that we continuously ran. Finally, in mid-August, wins started coming. We got commitments from a couple of new MSP clients and a couple of new VOIP clients.
The Aspirin Campaign alone brought in several new clients and $8K in new MRR! And our biggest win was from the little 9 Word E-mail exercise we ran all the way back in May. One client who received that e-mail reached back out to us in August, and we closed a deal for $42K in new MRR along with a $30K project!
More Than Doubling Our MRR Was Just The Beginning
From May through now, we have completed multiple IT projects valued at $81K. Even better, we more than DOUBLED our MRR in that time. When we committed to becoming a true MSP and started working with Robin, our MRR was at $42K. Today, we more than DOUBLED our MRR to increase it by 129% at $96,500 per month!
Even more than the financial win, these marketing results have taken my confidence to a whole new level. We are now restructuring goals and accountability for the entire team. We are in the process of hiring a new technician. And we are creating aggressive goals and milestones for the next few years, including reaching $1.6M next year, $2.9M in 2024 and $4.5M in 2026!
Finally In Control Of My Own Destiny!
It’s funny, back when we were a $13M business with lots of employees, I wasn’t in control of my own destiny. Instead, I was at the mercy of bankrupt clients and bad deals. Where we are today is like a breath of fresh air. That’s because the marketing engine we built — thanks to Robin and her team — puts us firmly in the driver’s seat. The sales and marketing efforts we put in place will continue to reap rewards for years to come.
Even though we had to press the reset button for my business after 17 years, we are thrilled that we finally have an MSP that is steadily growing. We still have a long way to go, and after Rapid, we know we have an effective sustainable marketing engine in place to help us control our own destiny.