Here at Intronis we know that MSPs are looking for help with their marketing efforts. We understand that marketing might not necessarily be your area of expertise, but it’s an integral part of growing your business.
To help you learn how to incorporate effective marketing strategies into your business plan, we spoke with another MSP marketing expert, Intronis MSP Solutions General Manager Brian Babineau. Here’s what we learned in our Q&A session with Brian:
Q&A with a Marketing Master, Brian Babineau
Q: Brian, as the GM for Intronis MSP Solutions, what’s the highlight of working with MSPs?
For me, the highlight of working with MSPs is their commitment to their customers and their passion for protecting their customers’ businesses. This forces us to match that commitment and passion and provide the best possible technology, support, and services we can to help them protect their customers.
Q: Based on your conversations with Intronis Partners, what challenges do MSPs face in their marketing?
What I hear most from our MSP Partners is that they are challenged with convincing customers to “buy” before something bad happens. I think of it this way: It’s really easy to sell an alarm and security system after a house has been broken into. It’s much harder to sell customers on proactive security and maintenance. The MSPs I speak with can communicate the value of security and data protection, but they need help educating their customers on the importance of being proactive with these investments as opposed to implementing a solution after something “bad” happens.
Q: The MSP channel is crowded. How can MSPs differentiate themselves from the competition?
I think there are two things MSPs need to create a competitive portfolio of services. The first is carrying a broad set of offerings so you don’t give customers a reason to go to another MSP. Secondly, transparency is key. MSPs need to regularly share information with customers that proves you are delivering value. An example of this would be a firewall report on what traffic is being blocked or let through a network. This helps justify your customer’s investment in the technology.
Q: What activities and projects should MSPs have in their 2016 plans?
I think that MSPs need to offer complete security and protection. We see many MSPs who offer security solutions (i.e. our firewall technology) but do not offer any backup solution or vice versa, and this presents a huge problem because there’s a need for both technologies.
Ransomware proves the need for businesses to have both backup and security solutions in place. Take for example a scenario where ransomware hits a small business. The MSP needs a technology to prevent the malware from getting into the network in the first place, and if for some reason it does get in, the MSP needs a backup of the customers’ data so the business doesn’t have to pay thousands of dollars to retrieve it.
Completeness also means securing data in all places whether its emails, web applications, or networks, and protecting all data — files saved on desktops, on servers, or in the cloud. If you forget to protect or backup anything, Murphy’s Law says that a virus will come in from an area that you don’t secure or that a user deletes a file that hasn’t been backed up.
Q: What changes do you see happening in the IT channel this year? How might those changes affect an MSP’s overall strategy?
Cloud is impacting the entire industry. The channel needs to adapt to customers not buying products or services that are based on local deployments but rather in the cloud. Office 365 is a great example where customers don’t need an Exchange server or security related to that server any longer. Instead, what customers need is someone to help them set up the Office 365 licenses, optimize network bandwidth for that application, and deploy and manage cloud security for that application. All of that information also has to be backed up. The job of deploying, protecting, and securing email still needs to be done. The how changes because that information is in the cloud. It will be like this for many applications that run in the cloud.
Q: Which marketing metrics do you think are most critical to measuring the success of a marketing team?
I am a big proponent of customer and prospect engagement activities. For example with email campaigns, its material click throughs – clicks that lead to forms being filled out or requests for more information. For phone calls, its conversations versus dials or voicemails.
Also, I’m a big proponent of demo or technical-related engagements. In our world, seeing is believing for many IT buyers.
Q: What advice do you have for MSP marketers?
Make your message clear. Articulate what you want them to do, the action you want them to take when they hear your message, in as few words as possible. Keep it simple.
Q: What company’s marketing strategy do you admire and why?
I am biased, but Barracuda’s. We tell people what we do, why it matters, and how to take the next step. Our message is simple, and that same communication can be on an ad in an airport, on a web page, on a datasheet, and on a sign behind home plate at a baseball game.
Q: You’ll be deciding who wins the MSP Marketing Masters Awards. What is something you think all successful marketing campaigns have in common?
I think winning marketing campaigns have clarity on why a potential customer needs to buy something now. The now is just as important as the why.