It’s a pretty competitive time to be an MSP….
New small providers are entering the market everyday, offering the same solutions as everybody else… making it harder for you to stand out and pushing the market into commoditization.
Big cloud and SaaS providers are increasingly offering direct to end-user solutions… rendering some of your service offerings obsolete.
It’s no longer good enough to recruit talent, keep your tech stack in order, find and retain good salespeople…. you also have to worry about marketing.
Marketing ‘experts’ are pushing for you to do 100 different things…. focus on your website, focus on your SEO.. focus on social media.. focus on email marketing.. start blogging.. do direct mail.. get on instagram… and the list never ends.
And cold calling is no better either… it’s hard and frustrating at best, even if you hire someone to do it, it’s still your brand and your business that’s responsible if the prospects receiving the calls find them interruptive or annoying.
Seriously, how many things do you need to ‘focus on’ to successfully increase sales?
You already have a business to run and staff to manage.
So let’s break-down a simple outline to turn your MSP into a sales machine…
This guide will focus on the first 2 blocks of the diagram above (‘Targeted Marketing’ and ‘Speak with them’)…
I will show you how to do targeted marketing to strategically attract your ideal prospects using Facebook
You can implement this guide yourself or hand it off to whoever does marketing at your business to create new campaigns or improve existing ones.
I am not going to explain where every little tool or button is located on the Facebook platform itself, there’s already excellent free training on “how” to interact with the Ad platform in Facebook’s own ‘blueprint’ training right here: https://facebook.exceedlms.com/student/catalog/list
Think of the blueprint training above as the nitty-gritty manual for how to operate a car, this guide however will focus on where to drive that car in order to generate results.
I’ll even walk you through a case for a specific vertical.. (An accounting firms), and a specific client avatar (A Managing Partner), to make this as practical and actionable for you as possible.
Please note, if you’ve been using Facebook for your business, chances are you’ve just been sharing photos and updates here and there to stay ‘top of mind’.
While this is not bad… it’s only a ‘Secondary Sales Driver’ as you can see in the Building Blocks diagram above.
I’ll show you how to properly do targeted marketing, how to generate qualified leads, and how to keep your every effort and dollar accountable for a return, no vague ‘social media presence’ exercises here.
This will work for you whether you have a team of <5 people, or a team of +100… (although, if you have a team of +100, chances are you’re already ahead of the curve and taking advantage of Facebook, this guide can still suggest improvements to help you get more out of what you’re already doing.).
I firmly believe that lead generation is the single most crucial bottleneck factor to a healthy growing MSP (or any business for that matter), if you can generate interested and qualified prospects on demand, you can always hire more, spend more, and scale your backend to keep up with the growth.
My team and I spent quite a bit of time putting this together, and I sincerely hope you find it useful, and more importantly actionable, let’s begin….
Laying the groundwork…
- You don’t have to work that hard to sell hotdogs to a hungry crowd. And you don’t have to sell that hard when you’re speaking with people who are already frustrated and struggling with IT. Most people think that sales and marketing is about convincing someone to work with you, and turning their ‘NO’ into a ‘YES’… this way of thinking is an uphill battle. As we go through this, I want you to have the mindset that marketing is about reaching a crowd, and allowing those with a need to identify themselves back to you, so you can both have a conversation about how their needs can be fulfilled via your services. (the sales process).
- Most people don’t think that business prospects can be found and marketed to successfully on Facebook, after all.. It’s just a social platform, not a place for business. Wrong! Attorneys, CPAs, Management Consultants, Realtors and many more are generating b2b opportunities for their businesses using Facebook… and so can you.
- “I tried Facebook in the past and it just didn’t work”, thus “Facebook doesn’t work”… This is kinda like a client telling you microsoft exchange ‘doesn’t work’ because they’ve tried to set it up themselves once. Facebook has 1.9B active users, and 1 in every 5 page views online are on Facebook… among these big numbers are your perfect prospects, and their attention.
7 Key steps to building a lead generation campaign that attracts ideal prospects for your MSP
Step 1: Pick one vertical and one service…
- 1) How you help. I know you offer multiple services, but pick only one for each campaign. Let’s say you’re selling IPS or security monitoring.
- 2) Who you help. Niche it down… and keep it simple. Please never just target ‘business owners’ on Facebook… the only time this is worth testing, is if you’re targeting a very tight diameter around your physical location)… so let’s say we’re looking to help Accounting firms.
Step 2: Define the decision maker… (avatar)
- ‘Customer avatar’ is a concept spoken too often, implemented almost never. I think people don’t implement customer avatars not because they’re difficult, but because they don’t see a practical value, and even then, don’t know where to start.
- Get this; The clearer you are on who your client is, their needs, pains, issues, frustrations, and wants… the easier it will be to target them, write words that engage them, and conduct sales conversations that yield results for you.
- So to make things easy, fill out the following questionnaire and you’ll roughly have your client avatar. (Remember, back your every assumption by research, we’re often wrong in our assumptions, I even recommend going as far as asking existing clients some of these questions to help you gain a deeper understanding of their problems and industry shifts, do not underestimate how wrong our assumptions can be):
Basic info first….
- What’s their industry? (e.g. Accounting and Finance)
- What’s their official job title(s)? (e.g. Managing Partner or CEO)
- How old are they? (e.g. 35-55)
- Where do they get their news? (e.g. ‘accounting today’, and ‘accounting web’)
- What are their biggest concerns tech-wise? (e.g. This article on accounting web published only a few days ago: 6 Security issues that should concern accountants )
- Are there any big events or shifts happening in their industry or lives? (perhaps new security regulations they have to adhere to?)
- What is it about your product that matters to this prospect most? (This is where a lot of people assume the benefits of their services are the biggest selling points… They are not.. Whatever the prospect perceives to matter most comes first).
- How do they perceive your services to better their lives? (e.g. Perhaps more effective workflows across multiple office locations? Perhaps impressing their clients with how robust and solid their systems are?)
- What other software or services do they use? (e.g. Quickbooks and Xero)
- Do they belong to any associations or trade groups? (e.g. AAA, and AICPA — this is important for targeting on Facebook)
- What major events do they attend? (e.g. AICPA ENGAGE in Las Vegas)
- Industry data: you can find a list an industry’s associations, publications, and events here: https://businessresources.peoples.com
- Another great tool for researching your industry is Buzzsumo.. You can enter ‘url + keyword’, or just ‘url’ of a website your industry follows.. And you will see the most shared articles from that domain.
E.g. when I search for ‘accountingweb.com’…. 2 of the most shared articles talk about technology and security risks for accountants
- To clarify, reading such articles, (and creating a client avatar in general), is so important because it give you a window into your prospect’s brain… This is what they’re reading, thinking, and sharing. It will also help you learn their language. If an article has comments too, skim through them, they’ll teach you a lot about the vertical.
- If I target people on Facebook that match our avatar, I get a decent sized audience of 80,000…
Step 3: What your ads should say (The message)
- Good advertising communication is measured by how well prospects feel understood BY you, not how well you explain what you have to offer and why it’s great. So make sure your prospects feel you understand THEM; there’s a pivotal point in any interaction between you and any prospect, whether talking in person or through words on an ad.. and that’s when a person feels fully understood, this opens new levels of trust and opportunity. (In the case of a managing partner at an accounting firm.. Your ad copy might say something like this…
“You’ve spent years (or even decades) working hard, establishing and nurturing valuable relationships with your biggest clients, we understand that it takes a lot of time to build this kind of trust and reputation… When the stakes are this high, a single breach of private client data can wreck havoc on everything you’ve built in one hour. Let us show you how our accountant-specific security packages will go as far as humanly and technologically possibly to ensure you don’t become a victim of a breach.”
A prospect who was uneasy due to security concerns, can now can let out a mental sigh of relief and say to themselves… “Yes! Thank you very much! That’s exactly right. Client relationships are our most prized assets and this is ALWAYS a concern for us.”.. In other words.. I feel understood, you really ‘get’ my situation, I’m open to hear more…
This approach is far more powerful, than say trying to explain how many ‘layers of security’ you can provide their network (a.k.a. Explaining things well)… and don’t get me wrong, that part is important too, but it certainly must come after establishing mutual understanding, and letting them know that their priorities, are also your priorities.
- Benefits; Every headline, and every paragraph should be made of simple and direct benefits that people get by working with you. No one wants to buy a mattress, they just want a good night’s sleep. In the MSP space, this is more true than ever, no prospect wants a patched server, they just want no headaches, the highest possible security, regulatory compliance, and the biggest bang for their buck. So let your ads talk about these factors, don’t talk tech.
- Market statistics are very powerful. (e.g. the average data breach costs $4M) that’s a hard fact that prospects will believe and can confirm for themselves. Include statistics whenever relevant to your vertical or service.
- End with one call to action and keep it dead simple. Like so… “If you’d like to learn more about how we help accounting firms operate securely, please click ‘Learn More’ below to submit your information and one of our security advisors will be in touch with you.”
Step 4: Ad creative (What image to use)
- Creative is of KEY importance, it’s the difference between grabbing prospects attention to read further or scrolling right past your ad.
- Use high contrast images with vertical lines whenever possible.
- A face grabs attention more than text and objects
- Stay away from boring tech-looking stock photos: one and two
- The text on the creative shouldn’t occupy more than 20% of the space to comply with Facebook’s guidelines. You can use this tool to test for this.
- This might sound counter-intuitive, but your ad’s visuals should have more to do with the prospect than it has to do with you, this is to peak their curiosity to read further. So in the case of an accountant, if your avatar research shows that the average CEO or managing partner at an accounting firm is male and over 40 years old, you might use a creative that looks like this…
You can click here to download the Photoshop file for this ad creative, feel free to alter it and use it for your own campaigns.
Step 5: Ad format (Crucial)
- My favorite ad format for this type of lead generation is ‘Lead Ads’.
It allows an interested prospect to submit their info with a double-tap, and you don’t need to worry about having a landing pages or how well it’s converting etc…
You can learn more about how lead ads work by watching this video…
Step 6: Following up
- It’s best to call a prospect as soon as possible after they’ve submitted their information to be contacted.
- I recommend using an automation tool like Zapier to setup sms notifications, so that whenever you get a new lead, your sales staff get notified and call them back right away.
- If the lead is not available to take the call, try again next day or the day after, remember, you’re not cold-calling here. They asked to be contacted by you and submitted their info. If your sales staff need help improving the way they sell, check out this earlier post I made on reddit with resources on selling.
- Always use a CRM to keep your leads organized and know who needs to be followed up on and what’s happening with each prospect, I’ve tried a dozen different CRMs over time, from the simplest to the most complex. My favorite by far is FreshSales. CRMs have a tendency to over-do and bundle too many features, in the process they end up being complicated and hard to use. I find that Freshsales has the same horsepower as the bigger CRMs, but is 10 time more intuitive and easy to use, the pricing is a steal too. You can actually follow the setup I outlined in this guide using their FREE ‘Sprout’ plan, and their ‘most popular’ plan is only $25/mo for when you wanna upgrade.
Here’s what my CRM dashboard looks like…
Step 7: How to know if your campagin is working, and how much should you spend?
- ROI is the only thing that matters here, this campaign is not to ‘get your name out there’ or establish brand-name recognition. I believe brand building should be an added bonus of successful marketing, however the primary purpose here is to generate prospects, clients, and ROI.
- I recommend starting slow with a budget of $1500-2000/mo, because even if you generate 1 new client every 3-5 weeks, the annual revenue from that one contract could easily pay for the entire year of advertising. (And you’re likely going to do better than 1 client every 3-5 weeks if you’re really committed to building and optimizing this).
Bonus Step… How to differentiate yourself from the competition
The two most dangerous words to your business and marketing are ‘So what?’
You offer IT services? ‘So what?’… You have a great staff? ‘So what?’
You know the drill.. Most MSPs offer pretty much the same services, using the same tech, from the same vendors. Commoditization can definitely be an issue!
So how do YOU stand out in a crowded market, here are a few ideas to use in your campaigns and sales conversations…
- Made Just For You: Let’s say you’re targeting CPAs, and let’s say you know the 3 key services that they all need (perhaps hosting / emails / backups etc), don’t list and sell these services separately. Package them under one package.. Let’s say the ‘CPAs Essential Security Package’. Now…. we know that prospects are not dumb, they understand that your package is probably made up of services they can buy separately from elsewhere, but the fact that you have thought of everything that THEY specifically need and packaged it together for them, will position you above someone selling the same services generically and separately.
- The big guys trust me, why shouldn’t you?; Do you service (or are endorsed by) an authority in your vertical? If you’re in charge of IT for the american association of CPAs, many accountants will open up to you just because of that connection. In fact I would suggest going out of your way to build relationships with authority figures and key organizations in your market just for the strategic advantage.
- I’m only an arm’s reach away: If you’re the closest service provider to the prospect, highlight that proximity as an advantage against competitors, even if you provide your services remotely.
Bonus Step #2…
Not all leads are going to buy, or at least buy right now…
Very quickly you will accumulate a list of ideal prospects that you can email market to over and over again, so keep them in a separate email list, and If you have a newsletter, you can add them to it.
Actually I might do another guide in the future and share some email sequence templates that help build value and close unconverted leads.
I really hope you found this guide useful, if you have any feedback I’d love to hear it!
And if you would like to accelerate this process for your business, please schedule a quick chat with me here: https://calendly.com/ralphbenjamin/20-minute-chat/