by Greg Jones, EMEA Business Development Director, Datto

The Datto 2021 Global State of the MSP Report has found that overall spending by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) on managed services is growing at 15% per year. So it’s no surprise that many MSPs are experiencing high demand and seizing new growth opportunities. But certain MSPs outpace the market. How do they do this? Effective marketing programmes are one key factor for success, yet, for many MSPs, marketing is still a dark art.

The combination of a global pandemic, the shift to the home office and an already fast-paced digitalisation drive has meant that over the past two years, SMEs have increasingly turned to MSPs for specialist support. While the first mad scramble to enable remote working for entire organisations is now thankfully over, current opportunities for MSPs still arise around facilitating hybrid workplaces, building cyber resilience for their customers in the face of changing threats and dispersed workforces, and using technology to enable smarter business processes.

In addition, new business comes from SMEs that realised at the start of the pandemic that they weren’t agile enough to deal with the sudden challenges and are now looking for a strong MSP partner.

However, even in times of strong demand, the best opportunities don’t translate into bottom-line growth if you don’t know how to engage with your prospects, have meaningful conversations and ultimately turn them into happy, paying customers.

Any marketing needs to connect with your customers

This is where a good marketing strategy pays off. Visibility and credibility are key, but it’s less about placing flashy ads, always having up-to-date blog content or posting on all social media channels. What’s more important is that you connect with your customers on a level that really matters to them. Most MSPs already have a deep understanding of their customers’ needs and concerns. They should now use this understanding to have frank and open conversations about how they can help their customers achieve their business goals and mitigate risks.

It’s best to keep these conversations high-level. SMEs don’t care about the ins and outs of the latest technology; instead, they want to know how this technology can improve business outcomes. It’s up to the MSP to break down the complexity of the technology into factual information that the customer can relate to.

Don’t go it alone

For many MSPs, thinking about marketing is daunting. After all, it’s not their area of expertise. Often, they also lack the internal resources to run a proper marketing programme. But doing nothing is not an option. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it on your own. For a start, there is a huge amount of content and resources from technology vendors that MSPs can adapt and build on, from whitepapers to how-to videos to product sheets. A growing number of MSPs enlist support from external marketing experts or recruit an in-house marketing manager with the right skill set to put a marketing plan into action.

Many vendors offer additional marketing assistance for their MSP partners that goes beyond providing content, and they are willing to support their partners with considerable marketing development funds. There may be opportunities to leverage joint events, place ads and mailshots or develop press releases. Don’t be shy to ask your account managers and the vendor’s marketing department what is available and how they can help you.

Datto partners, for example, can make use of a marketing automation platform that allows them to trigger fully automated email campaigns and social media posts, plan lead nurturing activities, upload and customise content and score their sales leads. We also run a dedicated Sales and Marketing training academy for our partners where internal or external experts share tips and advice on a range of marketing and sales topics, from optimising websites to running successful events. These are complemented by MSP Office Hours – times where our partners can email in for marketing guidance.

When formulating your marketing plan, use a reverse engineering approach to ensure the plan fits your business and it will deliver results. Starting with your strategic business goals, ask yourself what you need to do to get there. How do you acquire new customers? Profile your perfect target customer. Who are they? What are their pain points? How can you best reach them? Think about sales emails, prospect meetings and supporting activities that will help you engage with your audience, as well as the right marketing messages that resonate with your prospects.

Take action

As an MSP, getting your marketing strategy right will make a noticeable difference to your success. Make sure you align your marketing programme with your business goals. Know who you are trying to reach, enlist talented help, make time to talk to your vendors. And most importantly, take action and get started now.

Greg Jones is the Business Development Director, EMEA, at Datto. He is responsible for expanding and driving the success of Datto’s partner program and unique MSP ecosystem across the EMEA region. With over 20 years of experience in the IT sector, Greg has extensive knowledge in expertly managing the development of technology and business processes.

Visit Greg’s LinkedIn profile here