How can managed services be marketed?

To boost business, managed services providers must carry out specific marketing campaigns. Find out the best way to market yourself as a managed services provider.

Marketing, also known as lead generation, is all activity that is conducted prior to the sales appointment to reach and interest prospects. It includes messaging that prepares prospects for the sales process. Well-known forms of marketing activity include:

  • Direct-mail letters
  • Direct-mail postcards
  • Newsletter marketing
  • Telemarketing
  • Print advertising
  • Internet marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Radio advertising
  • Industry events
  • Lunch 'n Learns

The benefits of managed services to customers include increased operational efficiency and uptime, as well as the ability to reduce and control their IT costs. As a result, the value proposition for managed services is very attractive to prospects when messaged properly.

Prior to marketing managed services, the managed service provider (MSP) must:

  1. Identify the target market.
  2. Source an effective marketing list.
  3. Create a compelling message.
  4. Determine and design appealing marketing collateral.

Once these requirements are met, the MSP can now set a sales goal and develop and execute a consistent marketing campaign to achieve it. As an example, let's assume that the MSP's average managed services agreement is worth $1,000. The MSP has set a sales goal to increase the managed services revenue by $5,000 per quarter for the next three quarters and by $10,000 per quarter by the end of the fourth quarter.

One way to achieve these goals is to create an effective marketing plan consisting of four marketing campaigns. The MSP's managed services marketing plan will include a specific number of activities, which may encompass direct mail, email and newsletter marketing, as well as presentations at a couple of networking events per month and telemarketing activity to schedule appointments with prospects.

In the initial marketing plan, the MSP must decide when and how much of each of these activities they will execute. Because the goal can be met by selling five new managed services agreements in the existing quarter, the results of each activity in the marketing campaign must be closely monitored and documented. If the MSP can close 50% of the prospects that they present to, they will need to present this solution to at least 10 prospects.

Because the MSP will need to determine what types of activities and in what order it will take to sit down in front of 10 prospects, the MSP will need to experiment with the marketing plan to guarantee a repeatable outcome based upon the activity generated.

An initial marketing campaign designed to garner 10 appointments might include 100 emails sent to a targeted list of prospects, followed closely by 100 postcards. The telemarketer will then follow up with 100 call-downs to gauge interest and set some appointments. A few days later, the MSP's monthly newsletter will go out, further reinforcing the featured solution and message. While this activity is in motion, the MSP's account manager will conduct presentations at two networking functions, feeding leads back to the telemarketer for follow-up and adding them to the existing email, newsletter and postcard campaign. If necessary, the telemarketer will then make a second call-down the following week to prospects that have not yet responded, in an attempt to secure an appointment. If the campaign is successful, 10 appointments will be set. If not, the MSP will modify their marketing plan in any number of ways, including increasing the size of the initial prospect list and tweaking and tuning the plan until desired results are achieved.

During this entire process, the MSP will monitor, document and quantify each activity, so when the MSP achieves the goal of closing five new managed services opportunities, they will have a blueprint on how they accomplished it. The MSP will then test the process the following quarter, and if the MSP has done the job correctly, they will be able to duplicate their results with minimal modification.

Doubling these sales results in the last quarter can be accomplished by simply doubling the marketing activity from the previous quarter. While no marketing plan is absolutely perfect and will not always yield the same results, the MSP will be more successful than not with a consistent methodology and execution by tracking and quantifying their results throughout each and every marketing campaign.

Return to the managed services FAQ guide and read the rest of Erick's expert responses.

About the author:
Managed services expert Erick Simpson is the vice president and CIO of Intelligent Enterprise and MSP University. An acclaimed speaker and trainer, Erick has authored The Guide to a Successful Managed Services Practice: What Every SMB IT Service Provider Should Know and MSP University's The Best I.T. Sales & Marketing Book Ever! Erick's prior experience includes overseeing the design, development and implementation of enterprise-level help desks and call centers for Fortune 1000 organizations.

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