You’ve heard of bootstrapping a business? It’s when a new venture is built up using limited funds and a lot of goodwill. It’s where you get stories of founders sleeping in their office so they don’t have to waste valuable money renting a flat!
Your business is more liquid than that. But there’s still a place for bootstrapping – when it comes to marketing.
Because marketing doesn’t have to just cost cash. You can invest a different resource into it instead: Time.
And this doesn’t have to be your personal time. If your staff have a few hours spare every week, you can always invest their time into growing the business. Everyone benefits from that, right?
Here are six low cost / no cost marketing ideas for MSPs.
Do an hour a day on LinkedIn. Or start a Facebook group
The most robust way to market in 2019 is to build an audience, and then educate that audience about things that are important to them. At the point they are ready to switch from one MSP to another; they are dramatically more likely to switch to the MSP that educated them.
One way to build this audience is simply to grow your LinkedIn network. An hour a day on this will soon give you hundreds of new people to talk to. Here's a video I did back in October last year about LinkedIn prospecting.
Another way to build an audience is to create a Facebook group:
You get clients and prospects to join this group, and then teach them every day about tech matters.
These days you will get a greater return from building a Facebook group, than you will spending time on your Facebook page. Partly because of algorithms (yawn) and partly because of greater interaction.
Ask every user this one simple feedback question
The most robust way to grow net profits is to get your existing clients to buy more from you.
New clients are nice, but they’re expensive. Whereas someone who is already paying you every month, contributes a lot more to the bottom line if they go on to buy something else. This is why businesses like McDonalds have fully systemised the upsell: “Would you like to go large / add fries to that.”
Of course we all know how tricky it can be sometimes to get techs to upsell. Even people who are passionate about talking about extra services will sometimes fall back into their comfort zone… which is to go for the easy fix, and not mention XYZ new service.
So how about you get your team into the habit of asking this one simple question of every user:
“What else could we have done for you today?”
- Most clients will say “nothing, thanks” in their hurry to put the phone down
- This means you have checked they are happy
- Some will use it as an opportunity to talk about something they’d meant to bring up, but hadn’t felt they’d had chance to
- This means you have uncovered some money on the table; profit you would otherwise have lost
- And a handful will tell you about a service or product they’d like to buy from you, if only you sold it
- This is invaluable market research. Look for trends… what are several people asking for. If you don’t give it to them, they will just go elsewhere to get it
Run a free to enter prize draw
People love competitions. Yes, even business owners and managers. They never expect to win, but just the act of entering brightens their day for a second. This is why the National Lottery is still going strong after 25 years.
I used to be a radio presenter, and it was weird how many people would phone up just to win a crappy Backstreet Boys CD (hey, this was back in the 1990s).
There are two types of prize draw you can do. Either offer up any old prize you can find, for the sake of running a competition. Make sure the prize is really attractive – can be as simple as a laptop you bought for a client that they didn't actually buy for whatever reason.
The other way to do it, is to give away a sample of something specific you are promoting. For example if you are launching a new service like ID Agent, you’d give away a a year’s free membership.
Facebook is the place to do a competition. Entry can be as simple as liking or commenting on a post. If you have databases of email addresses, email your prospects to drive them to the prize draw on Facebook.
Get your local media talking about you
OK, so virtually no-one reads your local paper any more. But the local media still has massive credibility.
Free publicity is more valuable than advertising because it has higher levels of perceived credibility. When journalists talk about you, ordinary people think they have sought out the best experts.
Actually, most journalists these days just want easy content that’s put in front of them.
Here’s the easiest way to get some PR – send press releases to local newspapers, radio and local bloggers. They should be about things that are huge in your world, but that they haven't heard about yet.
SHAMELESS PLUG #1: A number of my MSP Marketing Edge clients have had some epic PR wins recently, using the press release I write for them every month...
The media coverage itself is unlikely to get you new clients. So you put a link to it on your website (don’t copy it as there are copyright agencies looking for this. They operate in the same way PRS does). Share it across social media. Email it to your database. Add it to your about us page.
And put the logo of the media outlet in the footer of your website – “as seen in” or “as heard on”. This way you can make one piece of coverage influence potential clients for years to come.
Create videos every week
The most influential way of communicating with, and persuading people in 2019 is through videos. Yes this includes B2B marketing.
And few MSPs create enough of them. Which is crazy, as they are so easy to make.
You can make a video in the next 5 minutes. Just grab your phone. Film something. Perhaps it's a quick warning about the latest email hack. Bang it on Facebook. Done.
Yes, video can be that easy. Have you seen the crap that’s on YouTube? People don’t expect Hollywood style production from you. They are very tolerant of 60 seconds of quick shot video. VERY tolerant.
If you want to invest in kit, then focus on lighting, sound and image stability. You have a perfectly good camera in your phone. Get lights to make it well lit. A microphone to make the sound spot on. And a gimble to steady the phone. I created a basic kit list a few years back.
You don’t need these things, but they do make videos look more professional, for an investment of around £100.
The other way to do videos is to get them animated for you. Don’t do this yourself unless you are passionate about video production... just outsource it to Fiverr.
SHAMELESS PLUG #2: We've just upgraded the videos supplied by the MSP Marketing Edge for MSPs to use around the UK.
Obsessively collect social proof
Most people are sheep; they prefer to do what most other people are doing.
This is a behaviour that is hard wired into most humans’ brains. It’s part of our survival instinct.
So you need to show people that hundreds of other people just like them, really trust your business.
- Asking for testimonials
- Soliciting reviews on Facebook and Google, and
- Creating case studies for each service you want to focus your marketing efforts on
Don’t be scared to ask clients for reviews and testimonials. Sure, some will say no. But the law of reciprocity says many will happily say yes, as a thank you for the great service they have received from you.
Yes this still works despite the fact they have paid for this service! And yes, humans are strange
The key thing is to systemise this in the business so it becomes a daily or weekly task, not a once a year social proof top up.