Why MSPs should care about marketing communications

Posted by Courtney Steinkrauss on Feb 4, 2015 12:00:00 PM

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As an MSP, you’re focused on providing exceptional service to your customers and being a reliable and responsive partner to those small and medium-sized businesses. Understandably, your time and energy is spent ensuring that your customers’ information is protected, supported, and backed up, but it’s important to make time to market your business using public relations.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been at “marcoms boot camp,” at Gabriel Marketing Group in Reston, VA. The boutique marketing and communications firm provides services and expertise to technology companies, helping them to grow their business. Many thanks to the team at GMG for their hospitality and willingness to share their vast PR and marcoms knowledge with me. With this insight, I’m now here to report back on why you should care about your marketing and PR strategy and how to quickly and efficiently develop brand awareness around your business.

2843482165_dffe8939ff_zThe value of marcoms

Let’s start with the basics. Public relations is the relationship your business has with the media and the public. How does your business interact with customers, brand advocates, industry reporters, thought leaders, bloggers, and the general public? If you’re not sure how to answer that question, it’s time to start thinking about it. 

Building relationships with these types of people offers significant value to your business. Engaging with the public generates awareness to your brand. The more attention you receive from industry reporters, thought leaders, and local media, the more credible your business appears to the public. As I learned in boot camp, these interactions gently persuade your prospects and ultimately win new customers. Simply put, developing a PR strategy leads to business growth.  

How to use PR to market your business

Begin by defining the value your business brings to your customers. What pain points do you alleviate for your customers? What makes your services different from your competitors? Understanding the unique value you offer potential customers will allow you to make the most of your public relations efforts.

Here are a few simple yet impactful public relations tips for your MSP business:

1. Develop relationships with the media

Research the reporters, thought leaders, and key influencers covering technology in your community. Be proactive and reach out, offering an overview of your business or introductory interview. In the future, when a related trend or news story comes up, you’ll be on their radar, and they might reach out to you for your insight. You never know when an opportunity may present itself.  So, be sure to leverage any company update in a press release or media alert.  An example of when to send out a release would be when you make a new hire or incorporate a new software into your service. 

2. Improve SEO to reach your audience

According to Vistaprint, a provider of marketing products and services, “90% of people use search engines to find local businesses.” Reaching the pool of potential customers through search results is the first step in getting their attention.

There are a few simple things you can do to help your brand rank higher in Google searches. First, identify keywords that will resonate with your audience. Incorporate these keywords into your website, social media channels, and press releases. When you publish a press release it’s especially important to include related keywords because it will improve SEO and reach targeted reporters. Additionally, use Google Analytics to track page visits and understand your website traffic.

While at boot camp last week, I learned that it’s worth your time to optimize your website because this is first place both prospects and the media will visit when deciding if you’re worthy of their attention.

3. Use social media to build brand awareness

Social media is easy to use and quickly extends your reach. Start by building LinkedIn and Twitter accounts with posts targeted to your audience, following social media best practices. Try re-tweeting articles from thought leaders or writing a LinkedIn post about a trending IT topic. When a prospect does learn about your company, they’re very likely going to search for you on social media. Finding that you have an active social media presence will provide the prospect with immediate value, just from your social posts, and hopefully encourage them to learn more. 

4. Leverage your customer base 

Think of a situation where one of your customers encountered a challenge and your services solved their problem. Reach out to that customer and ask if they’d be interested in providing a quote or maybe even participating in an interview that you could use as a testimonial to help promote your company. Then, draft this into a case study and post it to your website. Or, if that is too time-consuming, share the quote on your website.

Having this type of testimonial gives you more credibility with the public. As consumers, we can all relate to this. For example, we read online reviews of restaurants before making our Friday night reservation and search customer reviews before making a purchase online. People trust third-party sources to validate a product or brand. This is referred to as earned media, so dedicate the time and resources needed to earn these opportunities.

Using these four tips as a starting point, you will generate more awareness of your company from the SMB marketplace. Eventually, with more time and resources available, you can further expand your PR efforts for even greater benefits.  

Photo Credit: uhlandfriends on Flikr. Used under CC 2.0 license.

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Topics: Growing Your MSP Business, MSP Marketing

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