Marketing isn’t a series of check boxes. It’s a way to engage, empower, and take actions that will create an exceptional experience and exceed business goals. And contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t require hundreds of thousands of dollars to get it done right. What is required, though, is initiative, time, drive, and consistency. Oh, and a solid plan.
A good marketing plan keeps the business focused on achieving its goals and communicating its differentiated value. It uncovers new opportunities, inspires discussion, encourages engagement, and fuels the corporate culture. Marketing also drives sales leads and can help close the deal with the right content and collateral in play.
So what makes for a good MSP marketing plan?
The topic was white hot at ChannelCon and XChange this year and for good reason. The fact is the industry’s most successful MSPs are often the same ones who made the time to invest in marketing. They didn’t go crazy with the plan or break the bank on spend. What they did and continue to do is make marketing a priority throughout the entire company — from the bottom up and the top down.
Invest in planning
Blasting out emails, sharing a newsletter, and hosting events are tactics, not a plan. What’s guiding the organization? What makes the business different, not just better? A marketing plan states the business objectives and supports them. It lays out the goals clearly and concisely and includes measurement. It doesn’t guess at the target audience; it defines it in detail.
Segmenting customers by size alone is nearly useless. An MSP is better off focusing the profile on the vertical and business needs. Get granular. Avoid generalities. This will aid in quickly identifying the decision-makers and influencers and what they need to meet their goals.
Next, lay out a plan for reaching these audiences. This is where tactics come into play, but avoid making a to-do list. Focus on building a consistent engagement plan that showcases the experience customers can expect. All roads lead to the website, so ensure that it’s up to par and ready for primetime.
Research shows that prospects and existing customers continue to vet businesses by looking at their website and social media sites. Don’t miss the opportunity to make and maintain a good impression online, as well as in person.
Align with business objectives
Once the groundwork is laid, make certain the plan aligns with your brand promise:
- What you do
- How you do it
- Why you do it
- Who you do it for
Again, the marketing plan (hopefully a one- to two-page document) must match up to the business’ goals and objectives, include tactics, as well as associated budgets and loose timelines. It doesn’t have to be all-inclusive and yet it must be clear and actionable.
Similar to business plans, a marketing plan will change over time. Continue to review it for best results, and be sure to measure and share the success achieved within and around the organization. Many of the best marketers for IT service providers are staff members, current customers, and partners, including distributors and vendors.
About the Author: As president and founder of WhiteFox Marketing & Communications, Marie Rourke is recognized throughout the IT channel for her straightforward, business-minded approach to channel marketing, PR, and communications. With more than 15 years of experience in the IT channel, she is a friendly face at industry events and a respected advisor and colleague to many of the channel’s most innovative companies and business partners. Marie launched WhiteFox in 2005 with the vision of bringing channel relationships, marketing, PR and communications to the forefront of companies’ business growth strategies and tactics.