Even if you’ve developed an innovative suite of IT products and services, there’s no guarantee you’ll capture a single customer without a good marketing plan. The right marketing plan will help you identify likely customers, outline the right way to reach them, and ensure that they will continue to purchase services from you over time.'To create a winning business roadmap, you must first decide what your goals are for the coming year. You will also have to create an honest evaluation of current and past marketing efforts -- what worked, and what didn't?' ~Lindsay Faria, @BarracudaMSPClick To Tweet
To create this type of winning business roadmap, you must first decide what your goals are for the coming year. If you don’t know what success looks like for your business, it will be hard to move towards it in an organized way. This will also require an honest examination of current and past marketing efforts — what worked, and what didn’t?
From there, you can develop your plan by asking the right questions:
Who is your audience? Your marketing tactics will need to be matched to who exactly you’re targeting. That audience may be segmented by current customers, prospects, specific vertical industries that you want to target, past customers that you want to bring back onboard, or any number of other categories. In order to market your IT service business effectively, you need to know whose attention you’re trying to grab, what their needs are, and then be prepared to explain how you can help address them.
You will also need to identify different audiences within those categories — business owners, IT managers, etc. — and adapt your message for those stakeholders.In order to market your IT service business effectively, you need to know whose attention you're trying to grab, what their needs are, and then be prepared to explain how you can help address those needs. ~Lindsay Faria, @BarracudaMSPClick To Tweet
What are your key messages? Establish a clear value proposition and branding message, and consistently communicate them. Have a concise and unique elevator pitch.
If there are new messages you want to convey in 2019 (e.g., new services, new delivery methods, new promotions), consider what the most important parts of each of those messages should be.
As an MSP, there are many external influences that can create marketing opportunities for you. Hopefully, you’re paying attention to industry trends, emerging demands for new solutions, and are identifying the latest tools available to meet those needs. Think about how their needs have evolved, and be prepared to meet their next pain points, not just the one you’ve already addressed.
When will you deliver these messages? The calendar is your friend when it comes to new marketing. Consider major business milestones so that you can plan for those messages ahead of time. This includes both internal milestones (rebranding or a new service launch) or external (seasonal peaks).
For example, you could plan for a push around disaster preparedness prior to the hurricane or winter storm seasons. You may want to create campaigns that are inspired by certain holidays. You could also sponsor or exhibit at an important local event. Break down your marketing plan into quarterly or monthly segments. The more granular you are, the easier it is to stay on track.
Where do you want your message to be seen? This includes both geographical targeting and marketing channels (e.g., magazines, websites, events) where you’ll need visibility.
Will you focus on increasing specific areas of investment this year, or is there something new you’d like to try? If you’re starting from scratch, you may want to begin small before expanding your own marketing outlets. For example, a new MSP might focus on building out a website, launching online advertisements and business listings, attending local business networking events, and proactively working with other local business owners to secure referrals.
A more established business might focus on a mix of emails, direct mail campaigns, event, and customer-retention activities.
How will you execute the marketing plan? Outline the steps you’ll need to take to accomplish the tasks in your plan, as well as what tools, materials, resources, and staffing will be necessary. (According to Deloitte’s 2018 CMO Survey, conducted in partnership with The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and the American Marketing Association, high tech and software companies assign nearly 10 percent of their annual budgets to marketing.) Assign those responsibilities to specific employees and establish regular meetings to track progress against those action items.
Plan to monitor and measure your progress against the plan regularly throughout the year. By doing this, you can more quickly identify which parts of the plan are working and which aren’t, and then rapidly respond to those opportunities and challenges.
Lindsay Faria is a seasoned marketing professional with more than 14 years of experience managing marketing programs for growing, cutting-edge technology companies. She currently leads the Partner and Content Marketing efforts at Barracuda MSP, where her team dedicates itself to providing tools, resources, and content that enables Barracuda MSP customers to be more successful, and ultimately grow their businesses. Additionally, she is responsible for promoting adoption of the company’s growing solution portfolio among Partners, empowering them to streamline their operations and provide more comprehensive security and data protection to their customers.