MSP Marketing Blog

The Importance Of Demonstrating Your Expertise

Posted by Robin Robins On September 23rd, 2020

Here’s a chapter for “how NOT to close a prospect.” Last month Ryan Markel brought to my attention someone who is teaching MSPs how to grow their sales departments, suggesting we engage in some manner.

Initially, I’m very interested, as I’m ever interested in bringing fresh new moneymaking ideas to my members. I instantly have ideas about how I can use someone with his purported skills to deliver more value to our members. We discuss perhaps hiring him to work with our Producers Club and Accelerators members to build out a detailed sales playbook, complete with a hiring process, compensation plans, management playbook, etc. Maybe even run a Sales Managers’ Accountability Group.

A BIG project that would not only mean a good payday, but also put him in front of 600 or more MSPs who are potential clients for him. Now, just in case you’re not picking up on it, this is a BIG opportunity. Sponsors pay us millions of dollars a year to get access to our members, and here I am, offering to PAY him for the privilege.

But here’s what happens…

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The Importance Of Holding Your Marketing Accountable To A Result

Posted by Robin Robins On September 16th, 2020

The Importance Of Holding Your Marketing Accountable To A ResultIf I hear someone say their hope for marketing is “brand awareness” or to “get my name out there” one more time I’m gonna start a protest against slovenly, wasteful marketing. At least then I wouldn’t get my events shut down, but I digress…

To my point: Let’s suppose the “branding” folks managed an employee the same way they are suggesting you manage your marketing. The job description for “Bob” the employee would look something like this:

“Bob, your job is to get our name out there and make sure you are making people aware of our brand. Since we have no way of measuring just how effective you are, you won’t be subject to any regular meetings or reviews and you won’t have any strict hours. You can come and go as you please. Just as long as you come back once in a while and give us some assurance that you are, in some manner, shouting our name to the world, we’re all good and will continue to pay you. No one will monitor your performance. No one will attempt to measure your effectiveness or the impact you’re having on the organization. No one will look at your productivity, and we won’t tie you to specific leads, clients and sales coming in the door. We’ll just assume it’s working. Every couple of months we’ll look to see if sales have gone up. If they have, you’ll get all the credit. To assist you in this effort, we’ll give you a very hefty budget so you look your professional best. After all, we want to win the popularity contest and receive useless awards for our “creativity” or our cleverness. In fact, we’d like you to be vague, cute and clever. You’ll be dressed in the finest suits and given a Bentley to drive around in. You’ll eat at the finest restaurants, wining and dining whomever will listen to your message. Your expense account won’t be beholden to any particular type of client, but if we get enough people liking the experience, you’ll continue to be paid. If we don’t get enough sales, you can just blame the economy, the competition, who’s in the White House or any other outside factor.”

Laugh if you will, but that’s how a lot of companies manage their marketing efforts. My rule has been never to invest a marketing dollar that cannot be directly and accurately tracked back to generating a lead, a customer or a sale. Simple. That’s why my marketing is so shocking to many when they first see it; the word they use is “direct” if they’re kind, “aggressive” if they’re not.

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Grabbing Attention

Posted by Robin Robins On September 9th, 2020

attentionTo the right is a favorite “article” from the Weekly World News (the only RELIABLE news outlet these days) that I keep in my files as inspiration for a marketing campaign somewhere in the future. I DO think an ad run like this around Halloween with an offer to “exorcise the demon” in your computer would do really well – but I suspect many would not use it for fear of criticism, particularly from “love thy neighbor” Christians who would heap fire and brimstone on your head because they find this deeply offensive (but hey – in THIS day and age, if you’re not pissing someone off by noon every day, you’re not trying at ALL).

But the MAIN point of sharing this with you: a stern reminder that you HAVE to figure out how to get your prospects’ attention with your marketing or your marketing will fail miserably. This is why I encourage “lumpy” or odd direct mail – it makes a much more significant impact than a plain vanilla postcard or “professional” letter. So, a few things to keep in mind:


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Nice Is A Path To NOWHERE

Posted by Robin Robins On August 27th, 2020

In one of my favorite books, Harry Beckwith’s What Clients Love, is this story:

NICE IS NOWHERE. You do NOT want everyone to like what you do.

Ian Schrager created a revolutionary chain of elite hotels. His properties are to hotels what Salvador Dali paintings are to art – not for everyone. Schrager expressly designs his hotels for one traveler in 25. “Let 24 of 25 despise them, for all I care,” he has said. “Just so one in 25 loves them.” Can any marketer afford to write off 96% of the public? Schrager’s small hotels net more than $20 million a year (2003).

He’s since sold his hotel group, but has made a small fortune on his approach. His idea of being different and “not for everyone” is scary as hell to most businesspeople, though. In a world where “Likes” and followers are the new status quo for being successful in business (entirely a FALSE metric if viewed in isolation from other critical metrics like profit), and online trolls abound and pressure you to conform to their viewpoints, it CAN feel “dangerous” to stand out and take an unpopular view. Disapproving things and shaming and bullying others is a full-time job for many, a pastime for many. Believe me, I know.

It’s in conflict with everything you’ve been taught about service and the customer always being “right.” Choosing to be deliberately and blatantly against the majority is a stance that will challenge every fiber of your being and test your self-confidence. Read full article and comment →

7 Marketing Oil Wells You MUST Be Doing Consistently

Posted by Robin Robins On August 21st, 2020

We are about to head into another recession, and most MSPs will be looking to cut costs, including marketing (they look at it as an expense not an investment – but correct marketing will always be an investment). A recession is the ideal time for growing your MSP, as the number of competitors you have will drop.

To take advantage of this opportunity, you must have at least the following seven basic marketing oil wells in place and conduct them on a consistent basis.

1. QBRs/Quick Shot E-mails – Clients

You should be doing QBRs EVERY QUARTER with your best clients. If possible, do them with all clients, but if you lack time or resources, then do technology business reviews (TBRs) with the smaller clients. For those TBR clients, you can send quick shot (cross-sell or upsell) e-mails in the quarters that you are not having the meeting.

2. 9-Word E-mail – Unconverted Leads

This should also be actioned EVERY QUARTER. Go back and look at every lead in the past six months you were in the sales process with (e.g., went to do an assessment or gave a proposal) who then went quiet despite you contacting them many times. (NOTE: Do not send this e-mail to leads who are active in your sales pipeline currently.) Read full article and comment →

“The most oppressive prisons are those that are self-made.”

Posted by Robin Robins On August 12th, 2020

A few months ago, while cleaning out  a drawer, I came across an old e-mail someone sent me that was nothing more than a VERY long, passionate, personal assault on me, my character and how “undeserved” my success was, given the fact I had never run an IT business. This person was on my e-mail list (which THEY opted in to) but wasn’t a client– so everything stated was not based on actually knowing what I do or what my program entails. It was all just piss and vinegar unloaded. I printed it and saved it because to me it was an excellent example that I was really making progress.

What’s ironic is that she (yep, it was a woman) is very active in communities that are for advancing women in technology. When I read her comments, which were really nothing more than a string of juvenile insults, I laughed. Then I thought, hang on a minute, aren’t YOU supposed to be SUPPORTING and encouraging the advancement of women? Even if she didn’t like me, for whatever reason, shouldn’t she at LEAST applaud my success in this “male-dominated” industry? As my eight-year-old would say with a big eye roll, “Whaaaateverrrrrr…” Read full article and comment →

Are You Counting The Concealed Costs Of Sunken Money In Your Business?

Posted by Robin Robins On August 5th, 2020

In many categories of marketing and sales, as well as in your business, there are not-so-obvious costs that get overlooked because they aren’t recorded on the balance sheet or accounting ledger. If Walmart is eliminating their greeters, I hope they are evaluating the total cost of NOT having that person there, not just the obvious cost savings of the lowered payroll.

Recently, a colleague of mine ran his first virtual conference and was very happy with the results. He shared with me that he was considering cutting out ALL in-person events, given the ease of the virtual event and the cost, complexity and headache of doing an in-person one. I told him that was a very dangerous “cost savings” that would be the death of his business. Read full article and comment →

Problem, Agitate, Solve

Posted by Robin Robins On July 28th, 2020
The above is the oldest and still one of the most effective formulas for lead generation. More specifically, identify a highly irritating problem, anxiety, worry or frustration your clients have. Next, AGITATE it. Make them FEEL even more annoyed, frustrated and worried about it – and THEN offer the solution to the problem.

As I’ve long taught, effective marketing copy is about “bringing latent dissatisfaction to a boil.” But to do that, you have to know how your prospect thinks and feels. You also must know the specific problems they are dealing with on a day-to-day basis AND be able to articulate those problems to such a degree that they feel you’ve been following them around all day, reading their mind. Only then can you be effective at writing a marketing communication that gets and holds their attention, triggering a “That’s right” response (a nod to my Chris Voss students).

After you’ve effectively stirred up the emotional beehive and whipped them into a lather, you need to move them to action – but selling the solution outright is not the right idea. What WE want to do, particularly in selling advice and services, is to generate a lead. More specifically, to get a call or scheduled appointment with the prospect. To that end, you DON’T want to reveal too much of what the end solution truly is or you’ll risk them hastily dismissing your solution, thinking they either don’t LIKE the solution or triggering a knee-jerk response of “I tried that before and it didn’t work,” or “That solution is too expensive/not a right fit for us/etc.” Read full article and comment →