Your MSP business may have been deemed “essential” during recent lockdowns, but that doesn’t mean you’re immune to the changes all companies are facing right now. Can your company emerge stronger after the shutdown? Here are 8 tips for MSP marketing and business continuity gleaned from MSP owners and experts.
Choose Your Mindset
As with so many things in life, in your business, perception is reality. “In the MSP industry, you can either look at it as something that is going to ruin your company because your staff isn't going to be very busy handling the daily grind of reactive tickets, or you can look at it as a gift of time,” says Tim Rettig, owner of Intrust IT, a Cincinnati, Ohio, based IT support company.
If you’re experiencing a slow-down in client activity, seize the downtime.
Tip #1. Challenge your staff to jump on those projects or complete the online training they've been too busy to get done.
If you’re lucky enough to have received payroll funding through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), you can use that money to cover your employees’ training time. “The PPP funds are going to allow us to have the government pay for us not to just keep our employees paid to twiddle their thumbs, but to work to improve our company,” Rettig says.
Everyone on your staff, not just the techs, can benefit from honing skills. Check out free HubSpot classes for your sales and marketing people. For accounting, HR and other departments, check Class Central’s running list of free classes from a wide variety of sources. Alison is another resource for learning, and Lynda from LinkedIn Learning offers a free one-month trial.
Whether you landed PPP funds or not, consider making a pledge to not lay off any staff through June 30.
Tip #2: Sign a no-layoff pledge and urge other business owners in your area to do the same.
Once you’ve signed a pledge, make it public. Talk about it on social media, tag your fellow business owner signers (and ask them to return the favor on their social media accounts). With even a handful of businesses signing on, you can write a press release about the pledge and submit it to your local news outlets or business publications.
A commitment to keep your staff generates good morale among your employees and goodwill in your community.
Sometimes when we’re faced with obstacles, our first instinct is to step back. But sound MSP marketing principles would tell you to fight that urge. Now could be a great time to step out with your expertise.
Tip #3. Share your expert knowledge on topics your clients and customers care about.
You can share this information through:
- Blog posts
- Emails to your client list with informative bullet points
- Downloadable worksheets
- Instructional videos
Don’t know where to start? Think about questions clients always ask you--then outline how you would answer them. Maybe they need help using Microsoft Teams or straight talk on what type of password vault is best. Maybe you’ve found a workhorse laptop that you could recommend in a chatty video.
Share the fun topics, too: Has your staff enjoyed a particular training or team-building exercise? Write a blog post about what made it effective. Is one of your clients going the extra mile right now? Give them kudos by recording a Zoom call with them where you talk about how they are donating needed supplies to food banks or contributing meals to healthcare workers.
If you don’t have someone on staff to draft this content for you, contact us for help or ask around your network for freelance business writers to tap.
Spoil Your Clients
During a slower time, you can really show your current clients extra love.
Tip #4. Provide extra value to clients.
Jason Hagens of SWAT Systems, an IT service provider in Seattle, suggests good MSP marketing right now involves giving clients the "royal spoil" IT service. “Go beyond the reasonable expectation,” he says. “Provide them with extra value. There’s no need to nickel and dime your clients.” Keeping lines of communication open is critical, Hagens notes. “Ask them, ‘What are you having difficulty with right now? How can we help?’”
Give Something Away
When the future feels uncertain, it can seem counterintuitive to provide free services, but now (especially if you have PPP funding) is a good time to be as generous as possible. Remember your clients (particularly small businesses) are also facing unknowns.
Tip #5. Offer a free network assessment.
SWAT Systems is providing no-cost assessments to local businesses in the Seattle area. If you do the same or something similar (like giving a certain number of free hours to a potential client), put your best effort into it. Now’s your opportunity to impress would-be clients. Hopefully, at some point they will be able to hire you on or refer you to another company that can. In the meantime, aim to prove how invaluable your services are.
If you can’t swing a free offer, could you reach out to clients who might be struggling and offer some kind of an alternate payment plan for the next few months? This gesture will be appreciated. And we all know it’s far easier to keep a current client than land a new one.
Stay Up to Date
If you obtained a PPP loan, CARES or other stimulus, you’re probably asking questions and rightfully concerned that your loan might not be forgiven because of a misstep on your part.
Tip #6. Create a system for monitoring current information about stimulus funding.
At the time of this writing, much remains unclear about the necessary paper trail for PPP funding. Over the next few weeks, consider blocking off a few hours each week to keep yourself up to date. Check the Small Business Administration for information, follow the hashtag #taxTwitter on Twitter, and share updates with other local business owners. Is there someone on your staff you could appoint as your “PPP czar”?
While this tip doesn’t apply specifically to MSP marketing, it could be critical for your business continuity.
Do It for the 'Gram
How much do local companies know about you? Here’s a way to increase your visibility:
Tip #7. Organize an Instagram takeover.
If you belong to your local chamber of commerce, ask if individual members could “take over” the chamber’s Instagram feed for a week or a few days. When it’s your turn, you can highlight your services, your employees or your good works in the community.
If you don’t already have an Instagram account, creating one is a good MSP marketing move.
Look to the Future
No one has a crystal ball, but effects from an event of this magnitude will certainly continue to ripple out. “Recognize the economy and society is being transformed,” Hagens says. “It’s better to recognize fundamental change and roll with it, rather than be steamrolled by it.”
Tip #8: Embrace change.
MSP marketing, operations and staffing could all change. “You will see emerging opportunities in the MSP space,” Hagens says. “Remote workers will be more frequent and cloud services will keep growing. Today’s office spaces will change.”
“We are looking at this time as a gift,” Rettig says, “and we will come out of this situation as a better, stronger, smarter company.”
What challenges do you foresee for your company in the next few months? If you're feeling overwhelmed and would like to take marketing off your plate, we'd be happy to help. Contact us today.