Episode 114: How to figure out a USP for your MSP

Episode 114: How to figure out a USP for your MSP

Paul Green Leave a Comment

Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Episode 114: How to figure out a USP for your MSP
/

In this week’s episode

  • You know your MSP is different to your competitors, but how can your prospects tell you apart (and therefore decide they must choose you?). It all comes down to having a USP – a Unique Selling Proposition. And this week Paul explains precisely what yours should be
  • Also on the show this week, did you know your MSP-branded polo shirt could lose the sale… as could your nicely ironed shirt. So what DO you wear in sales meetings with prospective clients? Paul describes exactly how you should be dressing for success
  • Plus listen for some great ideas on how to improve your MSP’s website thanks to Paul’s featured guest. And there’s a book recommendation all about the power of integrators and visionaries

Featured guest

Mark Copeman is a featured guest on Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast

Thank you to Mark Copeman from Wisecurve for joining Paul to talk about how MSPs can improve their websites.

Mark is the founder of Wisecurve, which brings together a number of his ventures including TechTestimonials – the only video / written testimonial service dedicated to the tech industry. He is the author of the books, MSP Secrets Revealed and Helpdesk Habits. Mark is married with 2 children and lives in the village of Bray, the home of 50% of the UK’s 3-starred Michelin restaurants. He loves to cook and run, but not necessarily at the same time.

Connect with Mark on LinkedIn.

Show notes

  • Out every Tuesday on your favourite podcast platform
  • Presented by Paul Green, an MSP marketing expert
  • Paul mentioned two example customer experience platforms, Invarosoft and CloudRadial
  • Paul mentioned the book The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber, in which it talks about having an entrepreneurial seizure
  • Find out more about Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Edge
  • Thank you to Lucas Meadowcroft from Tribu for recommending the book Rocket Fuel by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters
  • In next week’s episode on January 25th, Paul will be joined by Sam Sheridan from Sheridan Computers, talking about how you can use YouTube to win new clients
  • Got a question from the show? Email Paul directly: hello@paulgreensmspmarketing.com

Episode transcription

Voiceover:
Fresh every Tuesday for MSPs around the world, this is Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.

Paul Green:
Hello, and welcome back to the show. Here’s what we got coming up for you this week.

Mark Copeman:
I’m here today with Paul to talk about the art of website creation and design for MSPs.

Paul Green:
That’s Mark Copeman. You’ll know him from Helpdesk Habits, and he’ll be here later on in the show to tell you how to make your MSP’s website even better. Plus, we’re going to be talking about how to match what you are wearing every single day to the people that you’re meeting and want to influence.

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.

Paul Green:
FYI, I want to talk about the USP for your MSP. PDQ, okay? Just kidding with you.

Paul Green:
I do want to talk about your USP. You’ve heard of this before, haven’t you? It’s a unique selling proposition. That was a phrase first coined by a very famous advertising guy called Rosser Reeves back in the 1950s or ’60s, if you’ve ever seen Mad Men, the TV show, which is possibly the best TV show ever made ever. Write to the usual address if you want to debate that one, but Mad Men is all about the advertising industry of Madison Avenue in New York in the 1960s, and a lot of the real-life characters actually inspired the characters in the show. Rosser Reeves is believed to be one of the many real-life figures that go into the central character of Don Draper.

Paul Green:
Anyway, Rosser Reeves was a genius, and he figured out a long time before other people did that you’ve got to find something unique about each business. Now they were looking at it from an advertising point of view. We’re not talking about advertising. We’re talking about general marketing. But if you want to market your MSP, you really do need a USP, a unique selling proposition.

Paul Green:
Let’s put that another way. If you put yourself in the mind of the ordinary business owner or manager who is looking for a new IT support company, what is it that truly differentiates all these MSPs? Well, I can tell you this. There’s very little. There’s very, very little that differentiates MSPs. Because if you look at the websites of all the MSPs and that’s pretty much how they will be assessing what’s different between each one, if you look at the websites, they all look the same. They’ve all got the same kind of pictures on there, the same kind of words, the same lack of emotion, the same lack of warmth. All MSPs, or perhaps not all, but most MSPs look very, very similar to the vast majority of ordinary people out there who are ready to buy from them.

Paul Green:
This is a major issue because if you seem to be the same as everyone else, how are they going to know to pick you? Because I know that what you do is different. I know that you’ve got your own unique technology stack, your own unique standard operating procedures. You’ve got your own unique experiences of the 10, 15, 20 years that you’ve been in our world.

Paul Green:
But I know this just because I talk to lots of MSPs. The average business owner or manager doesn’t talk lots of MSPs. They don’t read tech blogs. They don’t listen to podcasts like this. They don’t do any of that. They are not technologically savvy in any way. They think they are because they know how to operate an iPhone, but they are not technologically savvy. They do not understand our world. For that reason, they cannot at a cognitive level tell a good MSP from a bad MSP. It is impossible for them so we need to make it easy. We need at an emotional level to appeal to them and show them what it is that makes you different.

Paul Green:
Now, there are a few MSPs that have a true, genuine, unique selling proposition. For example, I’m working with a couple of MSPs that have a niche, a niche, a vertical, and one or two in particular I’m thinking of they dominate their vertical. So they were first to the vertical, first to the market. They’ve really dominated. They are in all the events. They are all in some of the big talks. They’re in all the industry blogs and magazines and podcasts, and they have achieved a genuine marketing domination, which is just beautiful.

Paul Green:
It’s not been easy. It’s a lot of hard work to do that. But what that’s given them is a unique USP so they can say, “Well, we are the number one IT support company for this sector. You know this because you see us in this magazine and on this blog. We’re recommended by this and we’re used by 30 or 40 companies in this space already.” Now that’s a genuine USP.

Paul Green:
Another genuine USP would be if you had a piece of technology that no one else has, and I don’t come across that very often. Because even if you put together your own thing, let’s say, for example, you pulled together your own CX platform, like a customer experience platform like Invarosoft or CloudRadial. But let’s say you’ve built your own because I have met some MSPs that have built their own version of this, you could look at that and say, “Well, we’re the only ones with this. We’ve got this unique software.”

Paul Green:
But from the client’s point of view, from the decision-maker’s point of view, they don’t see it as unique. The fact that you built something is a bit meh to them. They don’t get it. They don’t understand the uniqueness of it.

Paul Green:
That’s why I think for most MSPs the only real unique selling proposition that you have is the person that stares back at you in the mirror every morning, perhaps a slightly less tired version of that person. But you, the business owner, you are the face of the business and you could and should be the unique selling proposition, the USP, because you are a unique personality. You are you. We’re all unique in our ways, even though there’s, what, is it 6 billion, nearly 7 billion of us on the planet? We’re all unique in our individual special ways. So when you don’t have a very, very clear and easily communicated USP for your business, just use yourself. Put yourself on the website, be the face of the business.

Paul Green:
It doesn’t mean you have to do all the work. The clients don’t expect to speak to you every single time they phone up if you are the face of the business. Believe me, this is true. I am the face of the business, and my clients do not expect to talk to me all the time. They want some access to me, but they understand that if they want a copy of an invoice or it’s just a minor thing, they’re not going to be speaking to me. They’ll be speaking to a member of my team. It’s great marketing practice to be the face of your business anyway, but to make that your USP is also a very smart thing to do.

Paul Green:
So how do you do that? Well, you just put yourself everywhere. You’re all over the website and by all over, I mean photos of you, videos of you. I want to hear stories about you. I want to know about your background. I want to know what you think. What are your opinions on things? That means you doing more on LinkedIn. Let’s see your face more on LinkedIn, on your other social media. Let’s see you writing more. Experts like you write. They write and talk. Let’s see more of your blogs. Let’s see you writing more stuff. Write a book, if you can write a book or get it ghostwritten for you. I want to see you doing more videos. You might start a YouTube channel. You might even start a podcast. Essentially, when someone comes to look at your MSP, it is you that they are seeing. You are everywhere.

Paul Green:
This is why, and I have been asked a few times, “Paul, are you a narcissist?” Why do I have a podcast called Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast? My business is called Paul Green’s MSP Marketing. I’m not actually a narcissist. I just understand that using yourself in the branding is a very smart way to have a USP. There are lots of places to go and get help and advice on MSP marketing, but there’s only one that’s got me attached to it. By putting my name and my image and putting that all across it is a way of guaranteeing that I stand out because people are coming to buy from me. Actually, I have a team of five. It’s not just me in the business. It’s only a small business. We’ve got a small team, but we’re pretty efficient at what we do, but that’s by the by. It gives me a USP, and you can do exactly the same thing.

Paul Green:
If you do do this and you will be held back by fear, you will be held back by the worry of what other people will think, don’t worry about that. I don’t worry about what other people think. I really don’t. I’ll just get on with it and enjoy it and do what feels right for me. If you do do this, you’ve got to go the full hog with it. For example, that means having a photo of yourself on your business card. It means putting a photo of yourself on all of your sales documents, your sales proposals, your strategic review documents, all of those things.

Paul Green:
Why? Because you become the face of the business, the brand, the logo. Your business’s logo doesn’t really matter, but your face does. If you’re going to put yourself all over the website for new clients, you need to take that as far as you can. If you sit in front of a potential client and there’s you and two other MSPs that they have seen this week, and they like you, and they love your website, and they’ve chosen you and asked you to come in and present to them because of your marketing and the fact that there is a very clear USP that cannot be copied, which is you, and then you don’t have a photo of yourself on the sales proposal, you’re just making it too hard for them to remember which was your business. Because they will look at a photo of you on your sales proposal and they might not remember the name of the business, which doesn’t matter, but they will remember how you made them feel based on the photo of you.

Paul Green:
So this isn’t about being a narcissist. This is about using your own unique personality to stamp a unique proposition onto your business. The advantages of this are massive, the downsides are tiny, and it will give you an advantage over your competitors that they will never ever be able to steal or match.

Voiceover:
Here’s this week’s clever idea.

Paul Green:
Back in 2005, I started my very first business. I was just coming off the end of a 13-year media career, and I had that entrepreneurial seizure that Michael Gerber talks about in his book, The E-Myth Revisited. Now the very first business I started was a PR agency, public relations. Why? Because that’s what ex-journalists do. I was journalist-trained and I thought, “Well, it can’t be that difficult to jump to the other side.” Actually, it turned out to be really difficult. I hated PR, never enjoyed it at all, but for a few years, that’s what I did till I got into general marketing.

Paul Green:
I remember one particular pitch where I got it completely wrong. Well, actually I got the pitch right. I got the pitch right, I got the offering right, I got the price right, but I got something very, very simple wrong twice, and I lost the business because of it. I’d gone out to see a fairly large sort of manufacturer of, can’t remember exactly what they manufactured, it was something involved in the building trade. Let’s call them widgets. They were manufacturing widgets, and I had a meeting booked to go out and talk to the production manager. As I always did when I was in full sales mode, I went out there completely suited and booted, the nice smart suit, I’d got a nice tie on. I looked the part. I’d even shaved. That’s how much I wanted this business.

Paul Green:
I turned up to talk to this production manager and he was in jeans, jeans and a slightly crumpled shirt, as were all of his colleagues and everyone that I spoke to. I was this really weird guy in a suit tramping round a dirty factory, trying very hard not to get my suit dirty. There was a disconnect between me and this production manager and no wonder. It wasn’t anything to do with the fact that I was talking about something he didn’t understand, which was PR, although actually he was talking about things I didn’t understand, which were manufacturing. I think it was more of the case that we didn’t seem to be the same kind of people. He was him in his slightly crumpled shirt and his smartest jeans and that was his uniform. That was what he wore every day. Then there’s me turning up looking like a sales guy. Of course, he was looking for a partner. He wanted someone to partner with him. Just as that your clients are looking for IT partners, he was looking for a marketing partner and that wasn’t really the very best meeting.

Paul Green:
Anyway, I’m quite persevering when I want to be, and I persevered with him and I said, “Look, hey, let’s try again with this. I really think we could be a good match. How can I make this better?” He arranged for me to do another meeting, and this time it was with the senior management of the company. So I thought, “Ah, right, I’m not going to make the same mistake twice.” This time I went with my smart jeans and I went with my smartish shirt. Couldn’t ruffle it, just couldn’t bring myself to do that. I went in to meet with the production manager, he was in a suit, I couldn’t believe it. He was actually in a suit and so was everyone else in the meeting. It turns out for board meetings, the production manager put a suit on, and everyone else had a suit on. It was like the directors descended on that business from afar, and they were all suited and booted, and I felt like such an idiot.

Paul Green:
Because it’s one thing to overdress for a situation, it’s another thing to underdress. In fact, if you’ve ever been to a dinner party and you underdressed, you feel like such an idiot. I didn’t get that gig, as you can imagine, because it just felt like we weren’t clicking twice there. You could look back at that and say, “Well, the guy should have told you, Paul, that he was wearing a suit,” and maybe I should have just double checked. Hey, I was young. I was developing my sales chops at the time.

Paul Green:
But here’s the thing. The way you dress directly connects you or disconnects you from the people that you are meeting and you need to be able to dress to match the people that you’re meeting. In fact, that’s a great example from manufacturing there. If you are going out to talk IT support with a manufacturing prospect, turning up in a suit would probably not be a very smart thing to do, in the same way that I’ve talked to MSPs in the past who’ve been out to see CPAs, accountants, lawyers and they’ve turned up in their usual branded polo shirt and jeans, and they’ve sat in front of a lawyer in a suit. There’s a disconnect there, isn’t there? There’s an absolute disconnect.

Paul Green:
There’s a fundamental thing to remember about sales and marketing, which is that people prefer to buy from people like themselves. Let me say that again because it’s so important. People prefer to buy from people like themselves. So the trick is to make someone believe that you are like them. That starts with how you dress. Do you know the easy way to get this right is just to message them before, perhaps a few days before and say, “Hey, in this meeting, can I check, what do you guys wear on a regular basis?” You want to know. It’s not a bad thing to ask when you’re going into an environment what it is that they wear. Some places dress really down these days. Some places they still dress very formally. Why not check? Why leave it to chance? It’s one of those things that you should check.

Paul Green:
But it’s not just about the way that you dress. It’s about the language that you use. It’s about the mindset that you bring into something. It’s about the experiences you have. You’ve got to be looking for common shared experiences with everyone that you meet with. That manufacturing guy that I met with back in 2005, 2006, whenever it was, we had nothing in common at all. In fact, I wasn’t even from the city that they were in. I’d come from another city. I didn’t know anything about manufacturing. We didn’t know any of the same people. There was nothing there to connect us in any way.

Paul Green:
Whereas if I look at some of the other clients that I won, sometimes they came from referrals, sometimes they came from marketing, but we could talk about what it was like to live in this area. Or we both knew members of the same BNI, or we got some kind of shared interest or hobby or experience in the past. In fact, the vast majority of my early clients, if I look back at them where they were essentially just by me, we established fairly quickly some kind of connection. That connection could be a very tenuous, very vague connection, but it helped them to realise that I was someone like them. People mostly like to buy from people like them.

Paul Green:
The next time you’re going out on a sales meeting, don’t be afraid to ask that question, “How do you guys dress?” And don’t be afraid to do a little bit of research on the people in the company, the people you are meeting. How can you find a connection between the two of you so that you can form that connection and win them as a brand new client?

Voiceover:
Paul’s blatant plug.

Paul Green:
Only one MSP per area can benefit from this. I wonder if a competitor’s beaten you to your area yet?

Paul Green:
I’m talking about the MSP Marketing Edge. It’s a unique marketing program trusted by more than 500 MSPs all around the world. You get everything you need to attract new prospects, generate new leads and, ultimately, turn them into clients. Let me just go onto the website just so I can get the details to tell you all about it. So mspmarketingedge.com. Oh, oh, I’m falling off. Oh, hang on. I’m falling offline. Let me just reconnect my internet. Hang on. That won’t take long. Bear with. Bear with. Hang on. Perfect. There we go.

Paul Green:
So we’ve got everything that you need, literally everything to get new clients for your MSP. We’ve been working so hard on this program over the last four or five years, and it is now a completely strategic way for you to get new clients. The thing is, we’ve also made it totally risk-free for you. Your first month is just a pound if you’re in the UK or free anywhere else in the world. That difference is just down to the different payment systems that we use. Then after that, it’s either £99 a month in the UK or $129 US anywhere else in the world. The way that we’ve made it risk-free is there’s no contract. You can cancel any time at all.

Paul Green:
But as I said, only one MSP per area can have it and that is a genuine, genuine scarcity. Once we’re working with someone in an area, we lock that area and no one else can buy it. So why don’t you just go and have a look and see if someone else has beaten you to your area? Dial up now onto mspmarketingedge.com, pop in your postcode or your zip code, or if you’re based outside the UK or the US, you can just get in touch with us and we’ll tell you if your area is available, mspmarketingedge.com.

Voiceover:
The big interview.

Mark Copeman:
Hi. I’m Mark Copeman from Wisecurve, and I’m here today with Paul to talk about the art of website creation and design for MSPs.

Paul Green:
And for the first time in ages, it feels like the podcast is on the road. We’re out here. We’re actually recording this at the CompTIA Conference in London, in October, just a few months ago and it’s been able to catching up with Mark at his stand.

Paul Green:
Obviously, you are well-known as the creator of Helpdesk Habits and that was something you were on the podcast I think it was last year. But I want to talk to you about websites today because you do a lot of website reviews with MSPs.

Mark Copeman:
Yeah, I’ve done dozens over the last 12 months, and I have been fascinated by what I’ve learned. So many common mistakes people making right across the board, and I’ve created a new service to help people to just get better at how they communicate with their customers because you are what you are online.

Paul Green:
Well, we’ll talk about your service in a second. First of all, tell us what are some of the most common mistakes that you see on people’s websites?

Mark Copeman:
Probably the biggest one for me is lack of personality. I have a number of heinous crimes I talk about in these reviews, and one of them is seeing the white-toothed people on a website, those stock images which have to be banned. Nobody should have those stock images on their website. If you have people on your website, it should be of your team. Be authentic, be genuine. Please, please just stop using them. They just don’t work. They don’t add and, if anything, they detract.

Paul Green:
What are some of the other crimes that you see?

Mark Copeman:
There’s nothing worse than outdate footer. When you see a footer that says Copyright 2018 on it, it does turn people off in a really big way. In the same way you see people with their blog post, latest news last updated several months ago. Just take the date stamp off because then that content becomes evergreen. So just help people to understand that your business is current and it’s live and it’s not out of date.

Paul Green:
Let’s go back to what you were saying about the white teeth people. I love that. I might steal that one, that idea from you. Thank you. Obviously, the biggest problem most MSPs have is knowing how to put some personality, some human emotion into the website. What’s the easiest way to do that?

Mark Copeman:
To be you, to tell your story. Everybody has got a story. The second most looked at page on most websites is your About Us. So if you don’t have an About Us page or About Us area on your site, create one. But just tell your story, explain where you’ve come from, be honest. Because then people have an opportunity to relate to your story and you have an ability to talk about it with people. Then at the end of the day, people will always buy from people. So they can see your background, they can see your values, your ethos, what you are doing in the community, how you are helping people to get better at the businesses that they’re running, then people will relate to it and can start a conversation.

Paul Green:
And I find the opportunity for an MSP to do this is huge because even when… I don’t know if you find this, but when you do a website review for someone, even then they still don’t go and change their website. So there’s a tiny, tiny percentage of people who are getting it right, and it’s their websites that are really resonating with the actual buyers out there.

Mark Copeman:
Oh, absolutely, and it’s there to do one thing and one thing alone. If you take nothing else from this podcast, remember this, a website is there to start a conversation. Nothing more, nothing less. Imagine your shop, a shop window, a physical shop, you do not cram everything into your shop window. You put your biggest selling things in the shop window. It’s the same for any website as well. Put up front what you’re good at, one or two things, be authentic, be genuine, and allow the conversation to start happening naturally. But that’s all it’s there for. Do not try and create 30 pages on a website. You probably only need two or three or four.

Paul Green:
Tell us a little bit more about this new service of yours, Mark, and how can we get in touch with you and get going with it?

Mark Copeman:
I’ve learned such a lot by doing all these reviews, as I mentioned at the beginning, and what I’ve done is I’ve created a program. It’s three hours of me broken up into about 20 different videos where I show with blurred-out logos, because I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, the good, the bad, the ugly. And it puts the skin on the bones of 101-point checklist which I’ve created, and it’s split across six different areas. So I talk about personality, online presence, SEO, content, aesthetics and platform. The idea being is if you can tick off those 101 points, you won’t be that person saying to me, “Mark, I’ve got visitors, but no one ever contacts me.” So you can go to mspsitehub.com and find out all about it.

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast, this week’s recommended book.

Lucas Meadowcroft:
Hey, guys. Lucas Meadowcroft here again, CEO and co-founder of tribu.ai, and the book I want to talk about today is Rocket Fuel. It’s integrator versus visionary. This has been essential to me building my MSPs over the years and now even my new venture because it allows you to really dive deeper around the roles and responsibilities of both the operational versus the dreamer. This has been integral to us for everything we do. So any time we come on new concepts and new ideas and how we want implement it, we divvy it out and go, “Cool, who’s the visionary and who’s the integrator?” and we then make it happen. So if you haven’t read the book, Rocket Fuel, I highly, highly recommend it.

Voiceover:
Coming up next week.

Sam:
Hi. I’m Sam from Sheridan Computers, a small MSP, just like you. I’ll be on the show next week to tell you how you can use YouTube to win new clients.

Paul Green:
We’ll also be talking more about those ordinary decision-makers that you want to reach and how little they know and how little they understand about technology. How can we make technology more relevant to them? There’s a very easy way and we will cover it next week.

Paul Green:
Plus if you’re in a networking group, such as a BNI or something like that, it can be a great way to generate leads and even really profitable clients, but only if you max it out. We’ve got some advice for you next week on how to max out your membership of a networking group. Join me next Tuesday and have a very profitable week in your MSP.

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

Get a FREE paperback copy of my book on MSP marketing called: "Updating servers doesn't grow your business"


Essential Guide to Marketing and growing your MSP or IT Support Business | Paul Green's MSP Marketing

Inside you'll discover how to systemise your marketing, sales and delivery so you can stress less, grow your MSP and enjoy a better work / life balance

Join 3,720 MSPs worldwide who already have a copy of this book.

Leave a Reply