Episode 100: Special: MSP owners answer your questions

Episode 100: Special: MSP owners answer your questions

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Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Episode 100: Special: MSP owners answer your questions
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In this week’s special episode

  • As a thank you for listening and supporting this podcast, Paul has pulled out all the stops to pack this milestone episode full of value
  • Previously a few MSPs have appeared on the show to reveal their secrets, but this week’s 100th episode features a panel-full of successful MSPs joining Paul. Justin, Will and Richard will be answering listeners’ questions and discussing how they grew their MSPs
  • Also on this week’s show, your chance to win a special prize. Thanks to Datto, you could get your hands on one of five $100 Amazon giftcards

Featured guests

Justin Esgar is a guest on Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast

Justin Esgar from the Virtua Consulting Group

With a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Rhode Island and over 15 years of industry experience under his belt, Justin Esgar has combined his eclectic tech interests under the Virtua Consulting umbrella. Virtua specialises in helping small and medium-sized businesses and non-profit organisations analyse, design, and install technology solutions. The software development group Virtua XYZ brings together Justin’s various programming projects, including the Your Computer Inventory service for IT consultants. Finally, Justin organises and cheerleads for the business-focused ACES Conference and associated online community.

Connect with Justin on LinkedIn.

 

Richard Wingfield is a guest on Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast

Richard Wingfield from Envision Design

Richard grew up in a small town in Texas as the son of a general contractor and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of Texas in 1983.   He entered the architecture industry at a time when computer technology was first coming of age and by the early 90’s he had become a computer expert in his field. With a penchant for systems and solutions and a love of design, he moved on to become a member of the first Apple Solution Professionals Network and later to work for Apple as a Business Development Executive.
As the owner at Envision Design, he has spent more than 25 years helping business owners integrate technology into their practices. As a father, business owner, and head geek at Envision, he is still a geek at heart and loves helping people and continually learning new things in this fast paced ever-changing world.

Connect with Richard on LinkedIn.

 

Will O'Neal is a guest on Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast

Will O’Neal from Mid-Atlantic Computer Solutions

Will was a born IT hobbyist, early on trading his window washing skills for time on the neighbour’s Atari 800 computer. Fast forward a few years and Will’s career saw him managing most of the Macs on Capitol Hill in various Congressional offices. For about 2 years, he was the CTO for a weekly newspaper called Legal Times, where he managed the technology for 60 writers, editors, and graphic artists. From there, Will learned software & hardware repair, networking, and dabbled in sales with a mentor who really broadened his skill set. He continued with that mentor through three company changes, and Will credits him for setting him on this path. Mid-Atlantic Computer Solutions is 20 years old 2022, and he’s just now getting started learning about technology, sales, and marketing.

Connect with Will on LinkedIn.

Show notes

Episode transcription

Voiceover:
Every Tuesday for MSPs around the world, this is an MSP Marketing Podcast special. Episode 100.

Paul Green:
Hello, and welcome to episode 100 of the MSP Marketing Podcast. Whether you’ve been listening from day one back in 2019, or if this is your first episode, thank you so much for putting me on your device, and giving me a little bit of your valuable time to bang on about marketing for MSPs. You can probably tell, I love this. I adore every single second of this, and I hope that you get so much value out of this, and it helps you to grow your business. Now, to celebrate episode 100, we considered pulling together some of the greatest minds in the world of MSPs. There are so many good experts who’ve been on this podcast in the last hundred episodes. And then we thought, “Do you know what would be really cool? If we got some ordinary MSP owners.” People who are there on the coalface, day in day out, but also people who are actually pretty good at marketing themselves. And who also think in a really good way.

Paul Green:
So my friend, Justin, pulled together a couple of these people for me. I’m going to introduce you to them in a second. Before I do, to celebrate this hundredth episode, we’ve got a big giveaway.

James Lett:
Hey, this is producer James. Over the last 100 weeks, some of our prizes have been designed to benefit your work life, but this gift is definitely a treat for your personal life. We’ve teamed up with Datto to give you the chance to win a $100, or your local equivalent value, Amazon gift card. A thank you for listening and supporting this podcast, but even better still, we’ve got five of them to give away. All the details you need are later on in the show.

Paul Green:
Well, that sounds fantastic. So let’s meet the people joining us for this special hundredth episode.

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast, special.

Justin Esgar:
What’s up everybody. I’m Justin Esgar from the Virtua Consulting Group.

Richard Wingfield:
Hi, I’m Richard Wingfield with Envision Design.

Will O’Neal:
And I’m Will O’Neal with Mid Atlantic Computer Solutions.

Paul Green:
And I’m so grateful to all of you coming onto this podcast. If only we could have recorded what we’ve been talking about the last 10 minutes, because I don’t know about you, but I’ve enjoyed the last 10 minutes immensely. It can never go in the podcast, due to the swearing and the inappropriateness, and some of the stories that you’ve just told me, but this is going to be a blast. So thank you. So you guys all know each other, is that right?

Will O’Neal:
Yes, we do.

Justin Esgar:
Yeah.

Will O’Neal:
Everyone’s connected through Justin, somehow.

Paul Green:
So Justin, we’ll start with talking about you and your story, because this is actually your second appearance in the podcast this year. You were, I think it was episode 75 you appeared in, and you were a really popular guest. And then you offered to help me put this together, so thank you so much for that.

Justin Esgar:
Yeah, of course.

Paul Green:
Just give us an idea of your story, and give us the short version, Justin. What’s your background, what’s your story?

Justin Esgar:
The short version is I was 12 years old and I was enamoured with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. And now I’m 41 years old and I don’t have their money, but I’m working on it. Building a giant consultancy as best I can, doing IT consulting, doing consulting for consultants. I put on a conference for consultants. We just released our first piece of hardware, which we’re trying to sell to consultants. So I’m all about helping other IT consultants and MSPs.

Paul Green:
Thank you. Richard.

Richard Wingfield:
So my story is, I have a degree in architecture and I got out into that profession. I’m old enough that I was in that profession when computers hit that profession, and by default or raising my hand too often, got into technology. Got hired at some point by Apple, worked for them for a bit. Was there when Steve Jobs reorganised the company and was part of the layoffs. And when that was done, I realised in the past I was doing two full-time jobs and only getting paid for one. I was doing architecture and IT, and thus Envision was born. And I’ve been doing IT consulting for 25 plus years now.

Paul Green:
Richard, you need to change your intro to Steve Jobs fired me, because that’s a great headline.

Richard Wingfield:
Me and 14,000 other people on that day, or whatever it was. Justin, can we have that T-shirt please?

Justin Esgar:
I’ll definitely make a shirt.

Richard Wingfield:
And Will, tell us your story.

Will O’Neal:
So I am doing the only thing that I’ve ever done, which is IT consulting in one form or another. And I’m doing what I love every single day, that is supporting small businesses and their use of technology.

Paul Green:
That’s great. Thank you. So Justin, you completely smashed the brief. The brief was, pull together interesting people who would love to be on the podcast, who think the right ways. You guys think as business owners, as well as technicians. And also, I know that you guys are actually slightly better at marketing than most other people, which is really good. So what I’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks is, I’ve been pulling together questions. So I have a Facebook group, it’s the MSP Marketing Facebook group. And we’ll put a couple of posts in there, had some questions. I’ve asked my clients on the MSP marketing edge, they’ve given me some marketing and business growth questions. Also on my peer groups. And just from people I’ve been talking to on LinkedIn and various other channels. Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve collected questions. In fact, we’ve got more questions for you than we can possibly throw into one podcast.

Paul Green:
So we’ll see what we can do. And along the way, we’ll have some fun as well. So we’re going to start with a question from Kyle Stidom. Kyle, apologies if I’ve pronounced your name wrong. Kyle is an MSP owner in Colorado, and he’s asked a great question here. And Justin, we’ll start with you for this. What are some of the key strategies that you would use if you’re entering a brand new market? So Justin, I know you’re in New York, obviously the world’s best city. You don’t need to go into another market, but let’s say you decided you wanted to go into… What’s the next city along from New York?

Justin Esgar:
Well, actually we did enter a new market, because last October we actually purchased another Apple consultancy in Iowa. So it rolls into that. Kyle, your answer isn’t necessarily buy another computer, but it was a little eye-opening because, as one can imagine, people in Iowa think and speak differently than people from New York, right? I don’t know if this is true necessarily about a new market, but you have to establish yourself as the leader, and get your name out there. And then fill up those reviews and put out good content that people can see, that if you’re going to go into this new market, you have to go in there, guns blazing, “I’m the big dog. I know what I’m talking about. Here’s why you should trust me.” Especially if you’re going from a big city like New York, to a smaller city, you want to go in there and say like, “This is who I am. This is what I do. This is why I’m the expert.”

Justin Esgar:
I’ve done the New York thing, I’ve done the 24/7 pressure of New York City, and now I’m ready to take on Boise, Idaho or whatever. No offense, anyone from Boise, Idaho. I would say that’s the best way to do it. Do the research. And then on top of which, there’s all the standard stuff you do, right? Join BNI, which I think you guys have BNI in the UK, right Paul?

Paul Green:
Oh, God. Yeah. It’s huge here.

Justin Esgar:
So join BNI, things like that. Join the chamber of commerce. Talk to everybody you know, carry business cards wherever you go. Go to events, go to meetup.com. Look for events. Look for the people that you want to be helping. Don’t go to events for other IT professionals. If you want to do graphic design, go to the Maryland graphic design user group, and just establish yourself as a leader there.

Paul Green:
So Richard and Will, have any of you extended into a new market. I mean, obviously Justin did it through acquisition, but have you done it the organic way, where perhaps you’ve launched in the next city or the next town or something?

Will O’Neal:
Well, I did it the wrong way. The wrong way is to find a partner who promises they know what they’re doing, and then really doesn’t know a single thing about what they’re doing. My foray into another city was an abject failure, a very slow painful failure. Just because at the time I was running a very successful, the market was booming, the economy was booming, and there was a calling for another city. There was a partner built in, and there was just nothing but complete and total lack of understanding or knowledge once we got in there. So we landed three customers and lost three customers, all within a very short amount of time. And that scared me off from going into another market. The market that I’m currently in is very large and completely untapped for the type of support that we can do.

Paul Green:
And Will, without going into too much detail, and certainly without naming names, can you tell us why that didn’t work? So what was the lack of knowledge that you had which stopped you from really getting into that marketplace?

Will O’Neal:
The lack of knowledge was the person who wanted to start the business, promised that they knew what they were doing. They had a general understanding. Red flags were thrown. I said, “Let me send a tech to help you on this first job.” And he said, “No, I’ve got it.” And went in there and made us all look like complete and total fools, just did not know his stuff.

Paul Green:
So actually, your big lesson from this is pick your partners carefully.

Will O’Neal:
Yeah. Pick your partners carefully, and vet the entire process.

Paul Green:
And was it geographically so far away, that you couldn’t stay in close contact with them?

Will O’Neal:
It was 500 plus miles.

Paul Green:
Yeah. There does come a point, doesn’t it? Where you’ve just got to get in the car and you’ve got to drive and you’ve got to meet with someone.

Will O’Neal:
Yeah. The visit was scheduled for 3:00 in the afternoon. There was a $99 Delta flight that morning. I said, “I have a tech on the plane. You can pick him up on the way.” And was told, “Nope, not needed. I know what I’m doing.”

Richard Wingfield:
Ouch.

Paul Green:
Sounds awful. Yeah. Don’t do that again. Definitely don’t do that.

Justin Esgar:
I think going off that, I mean, Will, correct me if I’m wrong. Was it shiny thing disorder? You were like, “Oh, I can do this thing over there. And this guy seems great.” And then it failed.

Will O’Neal:
I think it was wanting to trust, because the relationship that was there was a good relationship. They saw our success in the DC market and wanted to replicate that into a different market. I knew I can teach and I can train, but I can’t do it for you.

Paul Green:
Thank you, Will. Appreciate your honesty talking about something which… I mean, no one really likes talking about their failures, but it’s good that you’re able to put it in a public forum like that, because it shows that you’ve learned from it. Let’s move on to another question. So this one is from Andrew Brown. I think we got this one from LinkedIn. Andrew is head of channel and partnerships at B Castle. And he says, “If you were to split your customers into A, B, C, D based on their revenue, which group would you see the most revenue growth from?” So his assumption would be that although your A group would bring the most revenue, your largest growth opportunity would come from your B or your C group. And of course, group A would probably be about retention.

Will O’Neal:
I would think that you would go with the B group, because the B group is amenable to your services. They know who you are, they’ve already have a relationship of trust. And I would think that if you go there and you point out a deficiency, or a service that they don’t have, they’d be more willing to go ahead and agree. My problem is my C group, where we just provide minimal support. They don’t want to buy more. It’s not because they don’t know we provide more, it’s they don’t want to buy more, because they don’t see a value in it. And no amount of marketing or me jamming it down their throat is going to make a difference.

Richard Wingfield:
Yeah. Well, definitely, I would think the B group for us too. The age group for us would be cream of the crop, but hard to get clients. The C group is going to be some combination of either the clients we just haven’t fired yet, or their, as well was mentioning, their cost is their only way to judge value of anything. So I think the potential biggest growth is what Will was saying. I would think that’s true for our company as well. It’s the folks who are already buying in. And I think often that growth is you have become their trusted advisor, and maybe they didn’t pass on a particular service, or they changed their business a little bit. And if you’re doing your consulting job, you can go, “Hey, you’ve moved in this new direction. Here’s a place where we can expand and take care of you even better than we were before.”

Justin Esgar:
I was going to say, I find that the C group tends to be the most annoying also, right? It’s always the ones that don’t want to pay, that put in the most amount of tickets. Rich, you started to say, because you were like, “We haven’t fired them yet.” I’m like, “I would 100% just fire them. I just can’t take it anymore.” Because the B group has the most potential, they trust you. The A group is spending the most amount of money, but then again, it depends on what they’re buying into, right?

Richard Wingfield:
Well, the fallacy is that the C group would have the most option for growth, because they’re paying the least, right? That’s the trick question, right?

Justin Esgar:
Fire the C group, massage the B group. And any new product you buy into, sell to the A group. And I don’t know what happened to the D group, I don’t think they made the list. So they’re cut off.

Paul Green:
The D group got fired. They’ve already gone. It’s an interesting way of thinking about it though, because I know most MSPs don’t think about their clients as As, Bs, and Cs. And whether you categorise them by revenue, by profit, by revenue per user, even just how easy they are, because we’ve all got clients who don’t necessarily pay a lot, but you don’t hear from them. I’m sure you guys have got clients like those. You wouldn’t fire a client that you never hear from, just because they’re a low spender. But I think most MSPs don’t think about their clients this way. And actually, everyone should be maintaining a list of clients who are at risk of being fired. I know that when I had lots of staff, and I only had 15, it wasn’t loads, but at any one point I could tell you which member of the staff would be fired first.

Paul Green:
So if we had to do any kind of cost cutting, or if just someone annoyed me enough on that day, I could tell you the name of the person who I would get rid of first. And I think you should do exactly the same thing with your clients. Justin, you’re New York, you’re brash, you’re Mr. Let’s-just-do-it. You must actually physically have a list, presumably written in blood.

Justin Esgar:
Yeah. It’s next to my baseball bat and the cement shoes that I build for people all the time.

Will O’Neal:
Justin’s changing his name to Justin Soprano.

Justin Esgar:
Why do I get called out for being the brash New Yorker. I’m sorry. I tell it like it is. It’s just the way it is. No, I don’t have those. We do do this, we will go across the end of the year and look at the number of hours we recorded in service. And we’ll divide that by the yearly amount that the client has paid. Basically, I want to find out, despite what their contract says. Their contract could be $300 a month, it could be $5,000 a month, but at the end of everything, you figure out really what the client is paying you per hour. And that’s, I think an easier way to figure out that number, right? Because if you have a client who’s paying you $300 a month, and they’re bothering you an hour every day, that’s 30 days, that’s 30 hours, they’re really only paying you $10 an hour.

Justin Esgar:
Whereas you have a client who’s paying you $2,500 a month and they bother you once per month, you’re charging them $2,500 an hour, right? So you have to take that calculation into play to really determine, how much are they bothering me? How many tickets are they opening? Whatever you want to call it, versus how much are they paying me? And then everything else is, do I like their personality? Do they listen to me? Do they fight with me? How many times do I have to tell them the same thing? How many times do I tell them to restart their computer before they finally did it? So that could be added on top as part of the fluff part of the calculation, but the raw calculation should simply be, how many hours did I spend with them? And what is my actual hourly rate, no matter what they’re contracted for?

Richard Wingfield:
I like this idea though, of having an on the bubble list, right? I’ve always had that list in my head with clients, of which ones are on the bubble about to go. I mean, we had one during the pandemic last summer, and my first comment was, “Damn it, I was firing them at the beginning of next month. He beat me to the punch.” So there’s always been that on the bowl list.

Paul Green:
Okay. Let’s move on to Christian from John. And this is a nice, simple one. We’ll start with you, Will, on this one, because each of you will have, hopefully, a separate answer. But, Will, what’s your best tip to get new clients?

Will O’Neal:
Make sure they know you exist. You got to market. And then after you’re done marketing, you have to market some.

Paul Green:
What kind of marketing do you do, Will?

Will O’Neal:
Well, for the last 18 months we were doing mails and newsletters and postcards. We spent a boatload of money on those, and I think it landed one $3,000 a month client, which did not, in any way, come close and will not make those newsletters and postcards profitable for many more years. If we figure that $3,000 a month client, if I’m netting a thousand bucks maybe in profit on that client, realistically I spent over $25,000 on those marketing services. I’m three years away from any profit on that client, if you consider the way that they came in that way. So we’re turning our ways to other things, word of mouth, we’re really letting our customers know that if they think we do a good job for them, we can do a good job for their peers.

Will O’Neal:
If they don’t think we’re doing a good job for them, then it’s a great way to learn how you can do better, when you reach out and ask for those things. But there’s also other methods of marketing, including any of the social media sites, including LinkedIn.

Paul Green:
And can I just ask, Will, and it’s a bit of an aside. I assume you had an agency working with you doing those postcards and newsletters, and again, don’t name them, because we’ve just established there wasn’t a return on investment. But was there any phone follow-up, or was it simply a case of, they were just sending stuff out in the post and communicating that way, but no one was ever actually speaking to humans?

Will O’Neal:
Yeah. It was not a managed call service, it was literally just, “Here’s the news we want to post out, and send it out.” So there was not a phone call following up on that, but it was a targeted list, right? That all the customers had. Or all of the potential leads had engaged with us before, and chose not to move at the time. But at the time of the marketing began, it was the beginning of the pandemic. And I knew that some people would be moving, or their existing support would be going away, they weren’t able to support those kinds of things. So it was a, “This is a reminder. We’re here.” And that’s literally how we got reintroduced to that one client. It only worked one time.

Paul Green:
That money that you spent, have you still got the data for that? Do you know who got those communications?

Will O’Neal:
Yeah. I’ve got a good record of who got it.

Paul Green:
Go and find yourself a back to work mum somewhere, who can just phone those people. And literally, you’re looking for someone who doesn’t have a telephone background, like a telesales background, but someone who’s just fun and friendly, and their idea of joy is picking up the phone and just chatting with people. And get her to do two to three hours a day, two to three days a week just phoning that list. Because I don’t know how many are on that list, Will, but I guarantee you that there’s at least two or three more clients in that list. And you’ve done a little bit of warming up work with them. And the thing is you’ve already spent the money, so you might as well throw another thousand bucks paying someone to sit at home and actually phoned them up.

Paul Green:
But we find that that process of phoning someone, chatting to them, not selling, that her outcome is to get a 15 minute video call with the prospect. That’s the only thing she’s working towards. Which is great, because it means she doesn’t need to know about technology, she doesn’t need to know about your business, she just need to know how to be warm and friendly and get people engaged. But I think your basic approach was right, which is, these people are going to switch some of them. We’ve just got to be in front of them at the right time. And maybe, for some of them, it wasn’t the right time, or you didn’t know when it was the right time. So Justin, let’s ask you the exact same question that John had, which is, what’s your best tip to get new clients?

Justin Esgar:
I think it’s different for Will, Rich, and I, because we’re all Apple consultants, right? Already gives us a little bit of a boost, because when you have a business and you’re using Macs, you call Apple for support, the sales support people over there will kick you to this website called consultants.apple.com. And you type in your zip code, and you can find all the consultants in your neighbourhood. I’ve been in business 13 years, I’ve gotten one referral. And the reason for that, at least in my opinion is, people in New York don’t want to refer, especially IT people to other companies, because then you’ll feel that when they need you, you won’t be there because you’ll be helping the company that was referred to you, or something like that. I don’t really know. I’ve tried a lot of different marketing things, right?

Justin Esgar:
We’ve tried the phone call thing, we’ve tried the LinkedIn thing, we’ve tried the email thing. I haven’t done the postcards, because I’ve heard stories like Will’s in the past, it’s so hit or miss or whatever. PC MSPs, it’s really easy to be like, “Your information’s on the dark web, and we’re going to see you.” And Mac people are like, “Whatever, man. When it breaks, it breaks.” They’re just so much more lenient about things. It’s a lot harder, I think, to market to companies that use Macs than PC.

Will O’Neal:
Justin, let me just jump in. Because our experience with the consultants are completely different. We get two or three leads a month from consultants or from the Apple stores. 98% of them are not looking to spend any money. Our biggest thing is when you find a target, is that convincing them that Apple doesn’t do everything for you. The biggest thing is people walk into an Apple store and they buy the machine, and Apple blows a lot of smoke towards them and says, “Yeah, we do all this. And yeah, it’s all easy.” What they don’t realise is, it’s not the machine that’s going to break, it’s the human that’s going to break. It’s the human that’s going to cause the problem. So your marketing is not about the technology or the hardware, your marketing is about, are your users going to keep your business safe? And are you getting as much out of your user as you pay them?

Will O’Neal:
So we lead those conversations from, “Look, we’re going to train your employees how to use the tools that you’re using. We’re going to train your employees how to stay safe on the web, because there is no technology in the world that’s going to keep you from clicking on something that you shouldn’t click on. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to get ransomware, but it certainly means that maybe they are giving out your information or your client information or your client’s proprietary information, without realising what they’re doing, is because the user…” There’s no test, right? All these small businesses go out and hire people and put a Mac in front of them, or any computer in front of them. There’s no tests that they do that says, “How computer literate are you?” They assume that they know how to use Word and Teams and Excel and Google apps. They assume all those things. They don’t provide training and change on that.

Justin Esgar:
It’s because it’s on everyone’s resume, proficient in Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel.

Will O’Neal:
Exactly. And we know how false it is, because we all know. Restart your computer if you’re experiencing something that is not right, they have to pay us $3,000, $4,000, $5,000, $8,000 a month to tell them that. And we clearly know the people don’t know how to use the technology. That’s how you have to adjust your marketing, is to make sure you’re marketing to the problem and not pointing out problems that may exist on other platforms, or guaranteed one day will exist on the Apple platform. And I think when Apple gets hit, I think it’s going to be a bloodbath.

Paul Green:
Let’s move away from, as a MacBook owner myself, I don’t want to have that conversation because we all know Macs don’t go wrong. Macs don’t get ransomware, and we don’t need antivirus, so we don’t need to have that conversation. Instead, let’s move on to a different question. Now, this one has actually been sent in as a piece of audio from Harold.

Harold:
Hey Paul, it’s Harold from San Francisco. I love the idea of direct marketing, but it seems like with everybody working remotely or at home during COVID, there’s really no way to actually send them anything, because we don’t have their address at their residences. What do you suggest we do if we want to do direct mail, but no one seems to be in the office?

Paul Green:
So it’s a pretty good question. Thank you, Harold. I mean, we were just talking about exactly that, and sending postcards and stuff. Will, did you do your big poster campaign during the pandemic? I think you said you did, didn’t you?

Will O’Neal:
Yeah. And it was all during the pandemic. And what I did was, to avoid the postage fees, I actually grabbed each postcard, got in my car and hand delivered each one to each person’s house.

Paul Green:
Is that a joke?

Will O’Neal:
Yeah, that is absolutely a joke.

Paul Green:
That’s a joke.

Will O’Neal:
I can’t tell you how many returned postcards that just would randomly come back. So if I sent out a dozen postcards January, we’d get through February bounce back, March would not be delivered or not come back to me, but April would be delivered to the customer and I get a bounce back. So maintaining that list was a royal pain. I also know that, at least in this region, our postal service is not up to par, because I would go visit a customer who was in the office. And then three days later I would get the postcard back saying, sorry, undeliverable. And that was just literally… I mean, I was out of my mind, going, “What is wrong with the postal service?” That was part of the reason why I stopped the campaign, is because I would get postcards back that were postmarked two or three months prior to when they were delivered. So I’m like, “I’m spending all this money on postage and printing, and it’s taking anywhere between seven days and three months for these things to get back to me.”

Will O’Neal:
That’s assuming that they were actually coming back to me at all. You’d verify the address on their website, there was no news, there was no nothing. We were still getting mail. These leads were still getting mail at their addresses, they just didn’t stop. The post office just was not delivering them.

Justin Esgar:
Will, this is why your Christmas gift from 2020 hasn’t arrived yet.

Will O’Neal:
I’m still waiting on that drink you promise me from last summer.

Richard Wingfield:
Well, Paul, I don’t want to be the one who technically converts this into a bashing direct mail, but we did postcards and what have you, before the pandemic. So I don’t want the pandemic to get all the press for when these things are not working. We did postcards and newsletters and did those things before the pandemic, and had similar lack of success as Will did. Now, again, you mentioned follow up with calls. We did some call follow up, but in general it was an awareness campaign. But if I could, I’m going to give you my answer for the previous question about getting new clients. And what I found works the best for us, and that is not these direct mail and postcard things, but keeping a really good relationship with that, if we’re classifying them, that A list of clients. And not necessarily A list in the ones that spend the most money with you, but the ones that you have a really good relationship, they love you, you love them.

Richard Wingfield:
And the referrals we get for them, we were still doing postcards and what have you for the last 18 months as well. And we’ve recently had two new clients that both came from referrals, and I didn’t even ask for the referral. And those clients were not the him ha about how much it’s going to cost, they were, “So-and-so said you’ve been helping them for eight years and you’re great. We need some help.” “Here’s the quote.” “Okay. When can you start?” I know that’s not answering the postcard question, and how do you get it delivered when everybody’s working at home, but the referrals are delivered by our clients and over email. So I’m answering the previous question, if that’s okay.

Justin Esgar:
Rich, when you did your referral campaign, did you award the referee?

Richard Wingfield:
Yeah, we do have our little quippy name for it. We’re Envision design, so if you become an Envisionary and you refer a client that signs up… But yes, we do have rewards for the people that sign up. And we will give that reward to the people that are referred, even though they knew nothing about this reward, go, “Hey, you sent us this client. They signed up. Here’s your thank you gift.”

Paul Green:
That’s really interesting, because we could have another MSP on from a different part of the US, and even from the UK, saying they get loads of referrals from their clients. And they might buy them a bottle of wine or something to say thank you, but there’s no formal reward for it. There’s no formal scheme set up. I think with client referrals, you do whatever works for you, and you do whatever you’re most comfortable with. And there’s a great book about referrals called, Unstoppable Referrals, by Steve Gordon. If you guys haven’t read it yet, please do, grab yourself a copy of that off Amazon. Because what Steve Gordon recommends, is instead of directly asking for referrals, that you put together a referrals kits. A referrals kit being something that people get essentially for joining your email list.

Paul Green:
Saying that, Richard, clearly what you’re doing now works for you, so don’t change it. And I think that goes with any marketing, if you’ve got something that works, you don’t change it. However, I have to take you to task on the whole direct mail bashing, because I’m sensing… I’m a bit of an old fashioned guy when it comes to direct mail, I love sending stuff through the post. It does work. There are two words you said earlier which just literally put a dagger of fear into my heart, which were, awareness campaign. Do you remember saying that, Richard? You said you were doing an awareness campaign.

Richard Wingfield:
No. Did anyone else hear me say that? I must have-

Paul Green:
It’s on tape. In fact, producer James, can you just repeat that bit where Richard said awareness campaign?

Richard Wingfield:
Oh no. We did some call follow up, but in general it was an awareness campaign.

Paul Green:
There we go. So the thing with marketing, and this is what makes marketing for MSPs awesome and terrible at the same time, you guys have the longest sales cycle of anyone ever. So you think about the insane retention that you have with your clients, people will stay with you 5, 10, 15 years, it’s the norm. It’s actually abnormal for me to talk to an MSP who doesn’t have that crazy retention. So you’ve got to think about it. If someone is staying with an MSP for 5, 10, 15 years, that’s 5, 10, 15 years that they’re not looking somewhere else. So you’ve got this insane retention, plus you’ve got the fact that the ordinary people who buy from you don’t understand technology, they don’t know what’s happening, they can’t explain what the cloud is. They’re not really up to speed on what ransomware is, and hey, it’s someone else’s problem anyway.

Paul Green:
So you’ve got that to take into account. And essentially, getting your message in front of the right person at the right time is really, really, really difficult. So I think, Richard, if you were going to do another direct mail for anyone doing a direct mail campaign, you can’t look at it as a brand awareness, as an awareness campaign. You’ve got to look at it as, how can we start a relationship with people? How can we get them to join our email list? How can we get them to connect to us on LinkedIn, or any other social media platforms that we’re using? How can we get them to follow us on YouTube or listen to our podcast, or any of the audiences that you’re building. And the idea is that you try to build a relationship with people before the point they’re ready to buy.

Paul Green:
So at the point that someone’s in that two to three week window, where they’re genuinely looking for a new IT support company and they come to you, if they have spent two to three years reading your stuff, whether that’s a newsletter or whether it’s just your emails or just your updates on LinkedIn, you are dramatically ahead of your competitors. The problem with that, of course, is it’s very much a long-term marketing strategy. And many MSPs really struggled with that strategy. Right. Let’s move on. We have a question from a different Justin. Justin says, “What’s your favourite way to upsell clients?” So Will, tell us what’s your favourite way to upsell clients? Do you use quarterly business reviews?

Will O’Neal:
Of course we use the reviews. We use other ways of pointing out deficiencies. It could be just a friendly phone call saying, “How are you doing this? How are you doing that? What are you paying for this? Perhaps we can bundle it and give you one invoice to pay?” So we make it easier on the customers. Several ways to do that.

Paul Green:
What about you, Richard?

Richard Wingfield:
Similar answer to Will. But I think the other thing that popped into my head was looking at new partners and new partnerships. So to go back a few years, as we started to get a few more clients in the healthcare and medical professions, then we started looking at, “Well, what can we offer in that particular market segment?” So to add a service that’s specific to a market segment, like HIPAA compliance or that kind of thing. So that’s another way that we’ve done it before, where we pick up services. And it’s been years ago. And I think everyone still hates their phone company, but at some point, to Will’s point about unified billing and that kind of thing, we started doing voice over IP services, because clients wanted us to take care of more things. So I would say partnerships.

Paul Green:
And Justin.

Justin Esgar:
Every ticket that comes in is an opportunity to find something else that they possibly need. The second a client emails you and says, “Why am I getting this much spam?” Or, “How do I stop this person from emailing me?” Or, “Why are my phone calls sounding like a 1980s McDonald’s drive-through?” Those are the opportunities to look for… And listening to your clients. There’s so much about IT consulting in general, that gets missed in the fact of consulting. We’re all really good technician, but the consulting part is listening to what your clients are actually saying to you, and then coming up with solutions to solve that, whether that’s reselling another service, partnering with a master service agent to get things, or even finding another consultancy who you can tag team a problem with.

Justin Esgar:
The three of us have been friends for a long time. We know other consultancies in our arena that if I needed legitimate 24/7 support, we would all know who to call, because I have all these little relationships I have in my back pocket. But to know when to pull those cards out, is coming down and listening to what your clients are talking about, and picking up on every little thing that they say, even if it’s not a technical answer.

Paul Green:
Okay. That’s a great answer. Justin, let’s stay with you for one of our final questions. This one comes from Alex, and it’s possibly a related question, because Alex asks, what’s your best piece of advice about customer service?

Justin Esgar:
It’s listen to what your clients are asking. Whenever I hire somebody… But this is how I could tell whether you can work for me or not. This question has gone public now, so it’s not a big secret, but if you’re working for me and it’s a Friday night and you’re the only one in the office, and the CEO of one of our clients calls and says, “I need to print out this keynote presentation. I’m flying to Vegas in 10 minutes, I’m leaving the office. I need to print it out so I can mark it up with my favourite red pen, and it’s not printing.” What do you do? And I’ll get one of two answers. Answer one is, “Well, I’ll log into the computer and I’ll check the drivers and I’ll ask him if the light is on. I’ll ask him if there’s ink, I’ll see if the USB cable’s connected.”

Justin Esgar:
And the other answer is, “I’ll have him send me the PDF, and I’ll get him the documents before he gets on the plane.” True story, Alex, who works for me, literally I needed to print a UPS label sometime during the pandemic and I didn’t have any ink in my printer. And he goes, “Send me the label.” And I was like, “What?” And he’s best friends with the bagel store that’s around the corner from me. And he sent the PDF to the bagel store. They had them printed and used one of their delivery drivers to drop the label off in my mailbox. And I’m like, “That’s where it’s at.” It’s listening to what the actual problem is. The problem isn’t that the CEO couldn’t print the document, the problem is that he needs it in his hand to mark it up on the plane. So if you’re actively engaging with the customers and you’re finding out all this information, you need to do something with that information, do something with that data. And that’s how you can become a better consultant.

Paul Green:
Thank you. Richard, what would your piece of advice on better customer service be?

Richard Wingfield:
I agree with what Justin said, but I’m going to add something I learned when I was working for Apple, and it is to take advantage of any failure on your part. Take advantage of that. So one of the lessons learned, and I learned this when I was at Apple, how you deal with a problem can get you a lifelong client, if you deal with it well. And a client who’s more loyal for that service, than with a client where nothing ever went wrong. So if something happens, instead of trying to dodge it or whatever, if there’s something happens that didn’t go well and you deal with that issue well, you may have a better lifelong client who’s going to refer you like crazy, than you would if nothing ever went wrong with that client.

Paul Green:
Great advice. Thank you. Will.

Will O’Neal:
I think it’s two words. I think it’s listen and empathise. I think you have to make your customer’s problems, your problems, and work to solve them.

Paul Green:
So this is coming from Luis Giraldo at n-able, “Will, if you could go back and change one thing, what would you change?”

Will O’Neal:
Well, that’s a great question. I would probably go to a business owners school, where they taught you how to run a business. We all came from this as being technicians, and nobody taught us to run a business. And all of these mistakes were made by several people before, we’re not the first ones. So you got to learn to lean on the community, you got to learn to trust. You got to learn when to turn up the screws on somebody. When do you start to run a business, as opposed to continuing to work in the business? Just remember you are now responsible, not only for your customers networks, but for your employees paychecks, and it all runs into each other.

Paul Green:
It does. It really does. Justin, if you could go back and change one thing, what would that be?

Justin Esgar:
I don’t think I would, really. I’ve always wanted to do this. I’ve always been a business person, since fifth grade. True story, my friend, Evan, would make these paper origami pencil holders, and I bought them off of him for a nickel and I flipped them for a quarter, in fifth grade. This is my life, right? So I’ve always wanted to own a business. And I think the way I do my business, which is different than a lot of other people’s, by expanding out inside the community stuff, doing the conference and the consulting and the T-shirts and the hardware and all the other stuff. I would go back and stop myself from making some minor mistakes. But even that, those minor mistakes led to such positive results. I dropped $80,000 trying to build a piece of software that failed, right?

Justin Esgar:
But if I didn’t make that mistake, one, I wouldn’t have a great story to tell. Two, I would then have probably made a bigger mistake later by dropping $200,000 on a piece of software that would have failed. So I don’t think there’s anything that I would have done differently. I think I wish I did things then more efficiently, the way I do things now. So when I first started, I was doing things the way my old boss did things, and he was a horrible business person and I had no one else to model after. But now since meeting so many people in the community, and since starting Aces and since knowing Will and Rich and all these other people who I now know, learning about using a ticketing system, it seems so obvious. When I started my business in 2008, I wish I had a ticketing system back then that wasn’t a custom made FileMaker made database that only I knew how to fix, right? Little things.

Justin Esgar:
But nothing major. I think that question’s rough, because those failures really helped define who you become. I probably wouldn’t have let Will stay at my house so many times as I have in the past. Even that, he comes over and every time he comes over, he walks out of my house and I look at my wife and go, “Damn. Why am I not doing things the way Will does.” I can’t say that I’ve regretted any, or I would change anything if I went back in time.

Paul Green:
That’s a great answer. Thank you. And finally-

Will O’Neal:
Justin, I ask myself the same question, why aren’t you more like me? Every time I see you.

Paul Green:
Finally, Richard, apart from not being fired by Steve Jobs, what would you do differently if you could go back change it?

Richard Wingfield:
Well, early on I would have spent the big bucks on purchasing the crystal ball that helps you hire only perfect staff and employees. It still doesn’t exist. But I’m thinking in terms of what would I change, like what has been one of the hardest lessons learned. And I agree with Justin, there’s a lot of the trial by error. Melanie Curtis that runs our mastermind and does some other things, she talks about, “Everything’s a growth opportunity.” There’s lots of those, I’m not sure I would change those. I think though the hard lesson learned was in the early days I thought I was hiring based on resumes full of technical skills. And it took a while to understand that we can teach the technical skills. You can’t teach some of the human interaction skills. So what I would change is my mindset about hiring much earlier, and skip some of those really hard learned lessons.

Paul Green:
Thank you. That is such a great answer. And I have to say thank you to all three of you. You’re clearly really good friends, and it’s been very gracious of you to allow a relative stranger to come and take part in what has actually turned into, in parts, quite an intimate conversation. So thank you very much. Please give yourselves a big pat on the back from me, and I’d love to have you back on a future podcast.

Richard Wingfield:
Thank you, Paul. Appreciate the opportunity.

Will O’Neal:
Yeah. Absolutely, Paul. It was fun doing it.

Justin Esgar:
I’m always here, man, whenever you need me.

Paul Green:
Yeah. I know. I know, Justin. You’ll be back on the podcast in 25 episodes, I’m sure. This is episode 100. We’ve had an amazing piece of content there, but it doesn’t end, because to celebrate reaching this huge milestone, we’ve got something amazing to give away.

James Lett:
Hey, this is producer James. Yes. It’s the most generous prize yet. And it’s sponsored by a friend of the show.

Greg Jones:
Hey, this is Greg Jones from Datto. Congratulations, Paul and the team, for reaching your hundredth episodes. We want to give you a present to mark the occasion. But, sorry Paul, it’s definitely not for you. For the hundredth episode, a hundred dollar Amazon gift card, but in the spirit of generosity, we want to give five away. So good luck to all the winners, and please keep up the good work creating so much value for partners. I know you have thousands of MSPs listening to this podcast, and it’s been growing. Take care. And now James is going to come on and give you some more information on how to win these gifts.

James Lett:
Thank you, Greg Jones, from Datto. One of their five prizes can be yours, if and only if you’re an MSP. And as it’s an Amazon gift card, consider this a treat to spoil yourself with for all that hard work running your MSP. So here’s how to win. There are five $100, or your local equivalent currency, in Amazon gift cards to be given away. Just visit this special secret web page right now. It’s paulgreensmspmarketing.com/win. Enter a couple of details and you’ll be in the draw. Then five people will be randomly picked, at some point just after midnight, UK time, this Sunday, 17th of October 2021. So a massive thank you for listening, and good luck.

Voiceover:
Coming up next week.

Alex Robinson:
Hi, I’m Alex Robinson from Novus Digital. I’m going to be on the show next week, talking about SEO, the latest Google update to roll out over the summer, and updating your MSP’s website to make sure that you’re not stung too badly.

Paul Green:
We’re also going to be talking about how you can solve problems more effectively. It’s about understanding the psychology of why a member of your team brings a problem to you, and how to strip away a lot of the clutter to focus just on the actual problem itself. Plus, we’ll be looking at the power of following up in your marketing. When someone inquires to you, but doesn’t buy immediately, that doesn’t mean that you’ll never get the sale. It’s just that they’re not at the right point of buying right now. People only buy when they’re ready to buy. And in next week’s show, we’ll look at how you can put in place an effective follow-up, to make sure that it’s your MSP in front of them the morning they wake up ready to buy, and not one of your competitors’. Thanks again for joining me on this special edition of the show. I’ll see you next week

Voiceover:
Made in the UK for MSPs around the world. Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast, special.

 

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