While many managed services providers (MSPs) successfully grow their businesses and add new clients through word-of-mouth advertising, many that have taken their growth to new heights did so through successful marketing campaigns that targeted the potential customers. By doing that, MSPs can deliver their valuable services to more customers that need them and potentially capture more of the estimated $239.7 billion market for managed services (as of 2021).
However, as many business owners have found out during their business journeys, marketing is often a much more complicated endeavor than it sounds. MSP business owners, for instance, must make sure that their marketing efforts are reaching the right target audience at the right time, with the right content to help them become aware of their services and convert to paying customers. MSPs must ensure they're messaging and branding themselves and their services correctly to appeal to their target customer. It's no easy feat to juggle all these areas.
Where marketing may get even more challenging is if an MSP aims to target customers in several industries simultaneously, who might have different specific needs for their technology and services. Therefore, as they build out their marketing strategies, MSPs will need to carefully consider how they're navigating this dynamic, or potentially reevaluate the target customers they are going after to ensure a consistent and successful strategy.
Identifying Potential Customers Who Are the Right Fit
Building a successful marketing strategy starts by identifying the right customers to target. This is true for any business, not just MSPs. The profile for an ideal customer might include size, geography, industry, technology needs, or other factors. By starting here, an MSP can ensure that it's only spending valuable marketing dollars on the organizations that will ultimately convert, not marketing towards those who won’t.
There are a few exercises an MSP can do to determine what customers are the right fit for them to go after. One of the easiest places to look is your existing customer base. Which profiles of customers are you seeing the most success from? Do those customers have similar qualities that could be easily replicated, such as a certain industry or size?
Additionally, are there specific customer profiles the competition is targeting that you could miss out on? An MSP can also think outside the box by evaluating its own services and asking if there are other profiles or industries that could benefit from their offerings. Although it’s less of an exact science, this can help determine what areas might still be untapped from a potential customer perspective.
These are essential questions that an MSP owner can ask to determine where their future customer success may lie. By identifying these target customers extremely clearly, an MSP can build a more effective marketing strategy to target those profiles across content marketing, digital marketing, email and direct marketing, and other areas.
Juggling Multiple Potential Customer Profiles
When an MSP is building out a potential customer profile, is it a good strategy to target multiple industries or types of customers? The answer is: it depends. An MSP may choose to pursue a strategy of targeting multiple market segments to gain access to a broader set of customers and, therefore, more significant potential revenue. However, the risk is that broader marketing will prevent an MSP from targeting its messaging appropriately for each individual industry and it may get diluted and, for that reason, less effective. Many MSPs have built a successful business targeting one specific vertical or industry, finding that staying specific allowed them to build deep specialization.
If an MSP wants to target multiple customer profiles, it can still be intentional about how it does so. First, it should start by clearly identifying the customer profiles it would look to target, and also taking the time to outline what reason each of those groups would have for working with it. This should include any pain points and challenges such organizations might have with implementing and managing their technology stacks. This will help the MSP determine how its products and services could fit them well.
From there, MSPs should take the time to outline any commonalities between these potential customers and their technology goals and needs. They may be more similar than it might appear on the surface, despite being in different industries or having different profiles. For example, organizations might have common technology needs or challenges, such as compliance, a need for management, cybersecurity, or other factors. Determining these similarities among the differences can help an MSP market more effectively or at least narrow the scope to prevent the dilution of its message.
Finally, an MSP should consider carefully how they want to reach out to these different audiences. Different marketing channels should leverage the knowledge that the MSP previously gathered on the industry needs and commonalities and how their services can specifically address those needs. The MSP may also consider adding separate targeted sections of their website to address each of the industries individually and how they can support them.
Driving Long-Term MSP Success Through Marketing
Whether an MSP chooses to target its business at a single customer segment or a broad array will depend on the ultimate strategy that it is looking to pursue through marketing and overall customer growth. If done intentionally, both paths can succeed if MSPs take the time to identify their target customers, their needs, and how they can fill them. From there, MSPs can determine the right combination of in-person, digital, email, content, video, or other types of marketing that could make sense to spread the word about their services.
Marketing is an essential element of every growing business. MSPs that invest in marketing and take the time to do it right will reap the benefits of long-term customer growth. Then, they can focus on what they do best: providing their clients with the best services and technology support and delighting them with positive experiences that enable their own business to grow — a win for all involved.
About the author
Kurt Abrahams is the Vice President of Marketing at MSP360 with expertise in technology marketing, cybersecurity and AI based technology.