Episode 127: SPECIAL: What marketing is working for MSPs right now

Episode 127: SPECIAL: What marketing is working for MSPs right now

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Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Episode 127: SPECIAL: What marketing is working for MSPs right now
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This special episode includes:

  • Paul talks to the owner of a technology marketing agency about the areas where MSPs should focus their marketing efforts
  • In their extended conversation they also touch on how MSP business owners can adopt a growth mindset
  • Plus listen for insight into how this agency enjoyed considerable growth within their own business over a two year period

Featured guest

Andra Hedden is the featured guest on Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast

Thank you to Andra Hedden from Marketopia for joining Paul for an extended conversation to talk about the big MSP marketing opportunities in 2022.

Andra radiates positivity and has a love for helping others. She has a passion for the channel and loves helping others MSPs, VARs and Vendors become more successful. She knowledge and expertise of the industry, combined with her people skills, make her a true leader in the channel.

Connect with Andra on LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/andra-hedden-baaa4636

Show notes

Episode transcription

Voiceover:
Fresh every Tuesday for MSPs around the world. This is an MSP Marketing Podcast Special.

Andra Hedden:
Now more than ever before, MSPs are wanting to learn about how to grow when it comes to lead generation and marketing. Are you running a nonprofit or are you really in a position to where you’ve got evaluation that makes ends for all the hard work that you’ve done?

Paul Green:
Happy Easter to you. In place of the normal show, we’ve got a special this week. And I was very lucky a couple of months ago to sit down face-to-face with someone I’ve talked to on the podcast before who knows an absolute ton about real life marketing for MSPs. Her name is Andra Hedden, she’s one of the owners of Marketopia, they’re a big US marketing agency for MSPs and vendors, and they’ve just acquired a channel marketing agency here in the UK as well.

Paul Green:
Now Andra and her team are there in the trenches every day generating leads for MSPs. They’re there following those leads up to try to get appointments for their clients. They know what’s working right now and what’s not working right now. And Andra, has shared so much with me that I wanted to play the entire interview out to you in today’s special, because I know that you are going to love this.

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP marketing Podcast Special.

Paul Green:
So here we are then Easter 2022, and we have another Podcast Special, and I’ve been allowed out of my house. I’ve actually travelled all the way to London, which is only 45 minutes from my home. But I’m meeting someone who has been on the podcast before. And I didn’t think I’d actually get to meet her in person until she turns up in London. Her name is Andra Hedden. You may remember her from the podcast last year and we’ll link back to that episode in the show notes, but she is… Well, do you know what Andra, you can introduce yourself. So give us a brief intro. Who are you, Andra?

Andra Hedden:
Yes, Paul. Well first thank you for having me. I’m so excited to be on the podcast again, and I’m Andra Hedden, I’m the CMO and co-founder of Marketopia. We are a lead generation and marketing firm headquartered in the US, Florida. And now we have ventured over into the UK as well as of last year. More to come on that, I’m sure we’ll talk about it. But it’s great to be here.

Paul Green:
Yes. And thank you very much for giving me 30 minutes of your time to talk to you. So we sat in a rather posh office block in Paddington in London. And this is the location of the agency that you’ve just acquired. And we’ll talk about that at the end of the podcast.

Paul Green:
So before we sort of talk about Marketopia and your history and what you’ve done with your business, because you’ve actually built an incredible business. And I can see it’s been a lot of work. Let’s talk about marketing for MSPs. And I think this is what we talked about last year, which was the trends. So the thing you and I were just sitting chatting just before we did this recording and things are changing really fast at the moment, aren’t they?

Andra Hedden:
Obviously there’s a huge market for MSPs that need to grow and want to grow, which is the space you and I are in. There’s a massive need for businesses to help and assist MSPs with growth, whether that’s marketing or lead generation or consulting. We got into this space initially with Marketopia because of that.

Andra Hedden:
We saw that MSPs really needed help growing, we understood that there was a gap with not only the skillset needed for marketing and sales, but then also too, the ability to help with vendor funding, that’s given over to partners to execute marketing. So we help on both sides of that. But the ultimate goal is obviously to help these business owners achieve their dreams, which is growing in a successful MSP. And we do that through lead generation of marketing support.

Paul Green:
And most MSP owners struggle with their marketing, which is well documented and most owners will admit to that. How difficult do you think it is for an MSP to actually put their hands up and say, “Right, I need to get some help now?”

Andra Hedden:
I think now more than ever before, MSPs are wanting to at least learn about how to grow when it comes to lead generation marketing. When we founded Marketopia almost eight years ago now, it was based on the fact that my partner in the business and also husband, he was an MSP and I came from the vendor and distribution side. So I came from global marketing plans, he came from being an MSP and together we saw those gaps.

Andra Hedden:
And at that time, there really wasn’t as much of a desire. You go to the events and the packed rooms weren’t the marketing rooms, now they are. So you go to events and the hottest tracks to listen to, or be a part of, or the ones talking about business growth, the ones talking about the ability to understand valuation in your business and what you need to do to get there in order to sell one day.

Andra Hedden:
We absolutely love solving this for partners. And now I think they’re much more apt to want to understand. I think for many reasons you talked before about what’s changing in the space. I think a lot of the market is going to be looking in the next five years or so, and trying to understand what they want to do with their business. Are they in the market to acquire other businesses? Are they in the market to be acquired? And with that, you have to start looking at your own business model and trying to really understand, are you running a nonprofit or are you really in a position to where you’ve got evaluation that makes sense for all the hard work that you’ve done?

Andra Hedden:
So I think that is really pushing MSPs to say, we’ve got to look outside of referral partners. We really have to, as much as we may not want to, we’ve really got to understand marketing and lead generation and just like MSPs provide the tech service, that’s IT as a service, businesses like you and I provide marketing as a service and it’s easy just like with tech to lean on the experts, lean on them.

Andra Hedden:
If you’re a company, it’s easy for them to lean on us to grow and to be experts in our fields in marketing and lead generation and sales. So I think it’s coming around. I’m seeing more popularity, I’m seeing more interest in just wanting to learn, wanting to understand. And I think the biggest piece of psychology is the ability to be ready to invest in yourself to grow. That I think has been the biggest mental block to get over, because it is extremely expensive to grow. You need to spend to grow in many cases, and I think that investment was often looked at as an expense for MSPs.

Andra Hedden:
With the education and enablement that’s been going on the last few years, I think the MSPs are really coming around to see that it’s a necessary evil in their world. And that they really are trying to figure it out.

Paul Green:
I love how you mentioned they’re running a not-for profit because that’s often unintentionally running a not-for profit. And I think the hardest thing, I mean, you started a business from scratch in a spare bedroom or in a garage because that’s what you do in the US, isn’t it? In the UK, you do it in your bedroom, in the US you do it in your garage. Our garages are a bit smaller here.

Paul Green:
I’ve started a business from a bedroom and those first couple of years, a lot of people get stuck in this for decades. It’s like you are trapped in your own head to a certain extent. So you talking about investing in the business and thinking about growing and making it a big thing. I think there is a fundamental leap that you need to make as a business owner to go from being, it’s me and two or three techs, and we’re trying to win some work and we’re trying to get cash flow and we’re just trying to balance the books. Did you see that there was a point for you and Terry, your business partner, husband, where you did transition from, I guess it’s from survival to actually thinking differently about the business and about growth?

Andra Hedden:
It’s interesting. Thinking back to that time, eight years ago, when we said, we’re going to try to solve for this, or at least try to add some sort of value to the channel. We didn’t start it from the garage actually. We could have, because we knew that it was going to grow fast due to the need that was in the space. We said, we’re going to rent a space.

Andra Hedden:
And so we did. We rented our very first space and that took us from year one and two. And so we went from the two of us to about 25 in our first space. And I just told this story yesterday, actually to the new team members here in the UK, that we walked into that building and it was just two of us that could fit about 25. And we had friends that would come because they were just interested to see what we doing, now what’s going on, I want to see this space.

Andra Hedden:
So they would come and we would get content team is going to be over there, the designers are going to be over there, this is going to be over here. And they looked at us like, we’re crazy because there was no one in the office, it was just us. And sure enough, within that two year time span, about a year and a half actually, it went from two to 25. And the reality is because there was such a need. And I think the only difference between what you were just mentioning and I think between the mindset that Terry and I came into it as is that I believe a lot of business owners go into having a business or solving for something because they have a massive passion for it, but they have never necessarily run a business.

Andra Hedden:
So because you’re good at a craft doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be good at the back end, right? The legal, the finance, the administration, the HR. So there’s so many pieces that go into it. For us luckily, Terry has owned, I think it’s about 10 businesses already. First one starting when he was 14 years old. So he already has that mindset. I’ve always been more entrepreneurial and wanted to start a portfolio of businesses. That was always the goal.

Andra Hedden:
So when we went into it, we went into it with a very rapid growth mindset. So I don’t know that at that phase. We had the hurdle to get over that said, are we to change this from a hobby and a passion into a business? Because we started off going, there’s a massive need, this is going to be a quick moving business, we just need to go.

Andra Hedden:
But I do think that many MSPs have that, where they do start it as a business that they want to solve for and help other businesses. And they’re good at it. They left a tech company or they left somewhere. They have the skill set to do it from a technical or a support or a service perspective. But running a business is very different.

Andra Hedden:
So I think the hurdles that they get over or that we got over. You hire for the things that you don’t have. No one’s perfect. No one has all the skill sets. So you’ve got to be able to be humble enough to identify those. And then hire for it and get the best and the brightest that you can. Same thing with MSPs. We did that from an agency perspective.

Andra Hedden:
We did that building the agency, building all the support that we needed, building Tela and from an MSP perspective, they do it with outsourcing or partnering for the things that they may not be so great at. So getting that CPA that you need, outsourcing some of your HR responsibilities, outsourcing some of your marketing items.

Andra Hedden:
So just making sure that you’re complimenting your natural skillset with what your gaps are in the business and being humble enough to do that. I think you and I see that many times in MSPs, there’s a psychological barrier to get through when you want something you want to grow, but there’s things you have to do to get there.

Paul Green:
Yes.

Andra Hedden:
You can’t have a touch on everything anymore. You’ve got to loosen up the control a little bit. Let someone else help you. You’ve got to be able to recognise that investment. There’s a lot of mental barriers to get over, but when you are fully focused on growth like that, like Terry and I were in the beginning and like I think many MSPs are right now, you will get over those hurdles and do what you need to do in order to grow.

Paul Green:
Yeah. I agree with you that more MSP seems to be focused on this right now than ever before. And I’ve only been in this market for six years, but even in that six years, there’s been what feels like a fundamental mindset shift. Yesterday, I sat in a, I have a peer group of MSPs that I meet with here in the UK and yesterday, and this is so funny, because I know he’ll be listening to this podcast and he’ll know. Owen you know I’m talking about you.

Paul Green:
One of the MSPs I work with, fairly new into the journey, a few years in, it’s just taken on big office space. We had a big discussion about growing into that office space and the costs are under control, which is good. But we were saying exactly this, “Look, you’ve got a great mindset. You’re not just running a business to make a living, you want a grow and do something amazing. You will grow into this space.” And I can see exactly the same thing from you and from Terry.

Paul Green:
I want to just pause us talking about business and business growth because later on I want to talk about Marketopia and how it’s grown because you’ve grown incredibly fast. You’ve done lot of amazing things, but what I want to talk about first of all is marketing. Cause that’s what it says on the, on the lids is it’s the, it’s the MSB marketing podcast. So you do marketing for vendors, you do marketing for MSPs. You have, I think uniquely a view of the whole market.

Paul Green:
And now both in the US and in the UK, and I bet you work internationally as well. I bet you’ll tell me that. So I think more than than many other marketing people out there, you actually know what’s really working right now and what’s not working. So what are the things that are working right now? Is it still LinkedIn? Is it still about getting your website right? Is this still a place for email marketing, for example anymore?

Andra Hedden:
From the MSP side, what is working is obviously first, once you get over that mental barrier and you really start to go to market. The items that MSPs can do to build out their own thought leadership and awareness locally, that’s what helps them get referral partners because they built up a personal brand originally. But once we mature for all partners, which is the goal, it’s no different, that’s a personal brand, that’s our reputation.

Andra Hedden:
So that’s all marketing is, it’s taking your story and taking who you are and spreading it around. And so that worked locally from one to one relationships. That’s the same thing online in digital. So absolutely LinkedIn is still the most powerful social network for B2B in my opinion in right now. Additionally, for MSPs because they’re localised, Facebook can also be a really huge lead gen engine for them because you never know who someone you’re connected to knows. And if you share a little bit about your business, maybe from a personal perspective, because that’s Facebook, you can still generate a massive amount of leads from your personal Facebook page also. So there’s a lot to be done in social media. Absolutely.

Paul Green:
Social media is only a distribution platform. Isn’t it? So what you said there about sharing something about your business, you’ve got to be more personal with it, would you say?

Andra Hedden:
Yeah. So if you are on, I look at each of the social platforms as different worlds. So if you’re on Facebook, that world is to keep up with people that you have known throughout your life or to build a deeper, more personal relationship is really what it’s intended for and to share out information.

Andra Hedden:
So you’re going to share more personal things. That’s really the heart of who you are. So Facebook is your heart. So you share things about your family, things about your friends, it allows you to have a deeper relationship. And then when you share about your business, it would be about maybe something that you’re proud of in your business, an award that you’ve accomplished, how your business has impacted your family, things along those lines. That’s what you share in there.

Andra Hedden:
That allows though people that are connected to you to understand what your business is, but you’re not selling them on your business. They then put together the pieces of, oh, that’s interesting. I know so and so owns an IT company, maybe they need help. And they’ll connect the dots for you.

Andra Hedden:
Now LinkedIn is the boardroom. So I call LinkedIn the boardroom, that is, you’re going to share the same things you would in an office space. You’re going to share the credentials that you have. You’re going to share thought leadership. You’re going to go there to get educated. You’re going to go there to educate. And so that’s LinkedIn. And so being a thought leader in LinkedIn is really powerful as well because you’re looked at as the expert. And due to that, I always say, if doing a good job in LinkedIn, the leads are coming to you.

Andra Hedden:
Often I think the mistake in LinkedIn is that a lot of InMails are sent and people are overselling. That’s not what LinkedIn is for. So LinkedIn is for sharing. You’re sharing, but you’re sharing from a business perspective. If you’re doing it right, the InMails will come to you. They will understand what you do. They’re going to trust because of the content that you’ve shared out. And they’re going to send you a note that says, “Oh, you know what, Paul, can you help me with that? Because I saw this really great thing that you posted the other day. Could we talk?” That’s how LinkedIn works.

Andra Hedden:
And I can’t tell you how many InMails, even from a Marketopia perspective we’ve gotten because people can understand what we do and come to us when they need it through LinkedIn. Now that’s just social media. The other side you asked about is email. There’s always going to be a place for email, at least still right now. Email is a way to share information and keep your brand in someone’s inbox.

Andra Hedden:
Again, you don’t ever want to be over salesy, but sharing information and adding value is what any marketing piece is all about. So email absolutely still works for MSPs, Tela still works for MSPs. We do obviously outbound calling and appointment setting. The best though is to warm it up through emails, through ads, there’s a lot of things that you can do to get your awareness out there, then following up with a call is amazing.

Andra Hedden:
So a mix of all of this, as well as going back to old school targeted accounts. A lot of MSPs, many times they’re so in that referral partner business, they forget that it only takes a second to sit down and say, who am I really trying to strike up a partnership with here locally? Just a list of 10 and then think of really strategic ways to do account based marketing against those 10.

Andra Hedden:
And it’s the simple things that end up working. So it’s a layered marketing approach, but if you layer them all together, it works really, really well for MSPs. And the vendor side is completely different, but there’s a lot over there as well, enabling their MSPs to grow.

Andra Hedden:
So still with MDF that hasn’t gone away just yet. So MDF is still out there and vendors really are trying to find more savvy ways to enable partners through the ability to not only give them funding if they’re top tier partners, but then also provide the best agencies for the partners to be able to pair with as well as the real savvy vendors right now that I’m seeing, they have their program, they have their automation system for the partners to go and utilise. The real savvy ones are helping even another step. They’re actually generating leads for the part partner and serving the leads up to the partner. And it’s working really, really well for many vendors.

Paul Green:
Yeah. That’s wonderful. There’s a couple of things that I want to just pick up on. First of all, I don’t think anyone ever has had an InMail like a sponsored LinkedIn email and thought, oh goody, who’s emailing me? That’s never happened. The second thing you mentioned about targeted accounts.

Paul Green:
There is of course a great book on this, which I know that you’ve read, which is The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes and his way of describing that is your dream 100. So who are the 100 prospects in your area or in your niche that you most want to work with. And then you treat those people like they’re the most special people in the world. And if you haven’t read that book, go read that book, The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes.

Paul Green:
Let’s just pick up on MDF just briefly and then I’ll have another question to ask you. So MDF of course, standing for Marketing Development Funds. Most of the big vendors have put aside astonishingly large amounts of cash to invest into their partners, as in the MSPs marketing. So I imagine you as a business Marketopia dips into MDF as often as it can because it’s a win-win-win, isn’t it?

Andra Hedden:
Yes.

Paul Green:
You win because you get some paid work, the MSP works wins because they’ve had their marketing funded and obviously the vendor wins because they see increased sales and they see a greater partnership. What’s stopping MSPs from accessing more MDF?

Andra Hedden:
Stopping from accessing and stopping from using MDF, I think are two different things. The stopping from accessing MDF, I think many MSPs are so busy in their day to day. And I think marketing is already a hard enough hurdle mentally to say, oh, that’s not my forte, not have to go over and get into it, is one thing.

Andra Hedden:
So I think many MSPs don’t even really know or understand in some cases how to go about receiving MDF from their vendors. Some have it and don’t even know it. There are often MDF allotments given unused by the billions. There’s billions and billions of dollars that go unused every year from MDF. But I think it’s the accessing it. So knowing how to go about that process. We help with that and I’m sure you do too. We help with getting them to understand, okay, this is a vendor, because they’re not all the same.

Andra Hedden:
So this vendor, you actually have to come up with a plan and get it approved in order to get the funding from them. Others, you’re already given it based on your tier of partnership with them and how much you’re already selling through of that solution or of that vendor or partner.

Andra Hedden:
So I think it’s the education on how to get it is one hurdle to accessing it. The other is there’s so much admin that goes into it for a lot of these very mature vendors as well. So I think it’s looked at as a headache in some cases from partners. But that’s where companies like us come in, where we can help with that, we can help facilitate that. But I think accessing is one. So understanding how to access, understanding how to use it and then knowing what to use it on.

Andra Hedden:
I think many don’t use it even if they know how to access it because they don’t know what to use it on or it’s a co-funded type of marketing development where you have to also pay. They’re going to give you 10K, but then you have to actually pay 10K also.

Paul Green:
Got you.

Andra Hedden:
Yeah. Right. And so it’s a co-funded event. And so I think sometimes that’s a little hard too for MSPs to invest that in themselves, even if half of it is getting paid for. So I think that there’s more than enough out there for MSPs to go and get, and I would urge any MSP to absolutely do that because there’s so much funding out there. Vendors want you to win and they’re providing for you to win. And if you need a partner to do that, go find a partner to help you facilitate it.

Andra Hedden:
And then when you go to spend it, do it strategically, do it in such a way that your vendor partner will be proud through the ROI that you’re showing on how you use the funds, so you’ll get more. And then also that it generates leads for you. I see oftentimes partners who do know how to receive it, get it, do know what they want to spend it on, but they may spend it on something that might not be really driving home, what they need to be doing right then for awareness or for lead generation. So it’s okay to get someone to consult with you and figure out what’s best and how to use it to grow the business the most.

Paul Green:
No, completely. And I don’t get involved with MDF actually. It’s something we try and stay away from. But I do say to any MSPs I’m working with, if you’re going to get MDF, it’s going to be easy for you if you can find an agency to work with. I don’t work closely with vendors so I can probably say stuff you can’t because you do work closely with vendors.

Paul Green:
Sometimes vendors come at it from the wrong angle and they’ll look at it and they’ll say, right, we’ve got a target to sell 500,000 extra, whatever it is. Here’s some MDF. We want you to go out there and put the message out that you should be selling X, Y, Z solution. And the reality is ordinary business owners and managers don’t wake up in the morning and think, oh, if only someone came along today with a so and so software firewall solution, it’s so much better invested in helping the MSP, as you say, generate leads, warn them up.

Paul Green:
And then as part of the technology stack, they include the vendors product. You’re smiling at me, so clearly you know this. A lot of vendors have problems getting their head around the fact that they are not the front end sale, but “Hey, if you want the sales, that you bundle it in with everything you’re selling.

Paul Green:
Next question. I want to draw back the veil of mystery over a marketing agency. So I’ve been in professional marketing since 2005 when I first started my agency, you’ve been doing it for a lot longer. And you clearly know what you’re doing. It’s very easy for us to forget that ordinary MSPs who are listening to this podcast, see marketing as a dark art and actually in the same way that you and I, as non-tech people might see technology as a dark art.

Paul Green:
So I come to you today and I say, “Andra, I run an MSP, I want to do some lead gen.” And you touched on this earlier, you touched about picking up the phone and whatsoever, I want to have two or three decent conversations a week on a video with the prospect where I can then choose if I want to go forward with them, without giving away any secret source that the Marketopia has.

Paul Green:
Not that I think there will be. I think you just do some gut feel. I think you do some basic things very, very well. What would you actually do to generate leads to my MSP? So talk me through the steps so that an MSP could replicate those steps.

Andra Hedden:
One of the things that we do is assess the business to begin with. So looking at the growth goals for the MSP. So if that MSP came to us and said, we really want to grow, and we think to do that, we’re going to need three leads a month to just have a really good conversation with. Now, we would back up from there because this does happen. They’ll come to us and they’ll have the numbers and they’ll have the type of conversations that they want to have. And we’ll back up a couple steps and we’ll analyse the business.

Andra Hedden:
So we go through many portions of the business, everything from where the revenue stands today, how much of that is reoccurring or not what the revenue goals are for the next following year, how many clients the partner has, what an average client is worth to the partner, how long that client typically stays with the partner. All these variables, their close ratio, all these variables are so important to understand what a lead is worth to that business.

Andra Hedden:
So for instance, it sometimes isn’t as easy as just saying, yeah, I want three, unless you know that if you get three, you have a closed ratio that’s going to close however many out of those, because a conversation is not always a close. So if you get three, you’ve got to have a closed ratio that’s going to get you however many actual closed deals, given your average for a client for your business, which is different for all MSPs, what does that mean to you?

Andra Hedden:
So we go through that cycle and maybe three, it may not be, and they may need 25 to get three based on their close ratios. So we go through this process and we also really, really help MSPs understand how, if they do retain clients, that they are really good at doing that. When you look at what you have to spend for a lead, if you close that lead, you are actually spending such a small amount with regard to how much that is actually worth to you in the long run.

Andra Hedden:
So many MSPs are wonderful at what they do. They can keep clients for 10 years. So spending a few thousand dollars on a lead is actually really worth it in the long run. So back to your original question, what would I say to someone, if we did deem that they’re great at sales and they only need three conversations a month in order to maybe close one of those, what we do is really go into what they already have internally.

Andra Hedden:
Let’s say this individual is well known locally. They’ve got a good reputation, we don’t need to go backwards and start doing things from scratch. Let’s say they’ve got a good website, they really just need help with closing deals. The owner is also the closer and the opener and they’re just trying to build and they’re at a plateau. And we analyse that and we say, “Okay, great, well, where’s your time best spent?

Andra Hedden:
Every owner typically falls to one side or the other. They’re either the service engineer mindset or they’re the salesperson that actually isn’t that great at service. So we analyse that, which one are you and let’s keep you where your best and then let’s compliment that with whatever you actually need. So if it’s more of an engineer closing mindset, well, let’s get you someone on the front end that can open up that deal for you.

Andra Hedden:
So typically we would align some sort of a Tela sales rep in order to do that. We’ll analyse the data. Do you have a database internally? Do you need us to get you one and what does that look like? And so we would attach some sort of a data element to it, and then we go through what they do or don’t have internally. Do you have an email automation system? Let’s just say in this example, no.

Andra Hedden:
So we’ll couple on top of it what they need to grow. So I would say we typically, if we’re going to do a multiple layer plan, we’ve got plans that have social media included emails to prospect X and current clients for upsell, cross sell, awareness campaigns that go out, content that we create. And we keep that backend going and then complimenting that with Tela to get the leads needed. And so we apply a full-time Tela person, as well as some of this marketing and all of a sudden you’ll get those leads every single month.

Andra Hedden:
Now sometimes you have some of those pieces, you don’t need all of it. So we also do other plans where it’s just going out and doing a deeper dive into SEO so you can get more organic and you’re not just relying on referral partners.

Andra Hedden:
And then also the other side of that is making sure from a paid ad perspective, depending market that you’re in, because that’s another big piece. Every market is different. A small town in Nebraska is going to be very different from what works with marketing versus New York city. So we analyse that as well. So it’s not necessarily a one size fits all, but we go into that so that we can figure out exactly what that partner needs to grow. And then based on what they’re trying to grow too, we let them know how many leads they’re going to need to do that and build a plan to facilitate it.

Paul Green:
Yeah. So essentially it is doing a lot of the marketing basics that we have talked about on this podcast week after week after week. But you’re doing them really well and you’re doing them properly. And that of course is the benefit of outsourcing to an agency.

Paul Green:
Let’s talk about Marketopia’s growth. So can I share the figure that you told me for the interview about how many staff you have?

Andra Hedden:
Sure.

Paul Green:
So how many staff do you have?

Andra Hedden:
So we are around with, including both teams now, all the teams, we’re about 175 total.

Paul Green:
Are you mad? That’s my idea of-

Andra Hedden:
I don’t think so.

Paul Green:
Is my idea of personal hell, having that many staff. And you were actually telling me that obviously, you no longer day to day manage the business. You can’t with 170 people. So let’s talk about this from an entrepreneurial point of view. It seemed like Marketopia came out of nowhere and often when something just comes out of nowhere, it means that someone’s done a lot of hard work over a number of years.

Paul Green:
And you mentioned earlier, it’s been an eight year journey. Clearly, you guys set this up with an intention to do something, to have an impact and to build it to something incredible. The stage that you are at now, where you’ve got a professional management team in place and a position to actually go and acquire a business, substantial business in another country, which is insane for most people to think about. What are the most critical things that you and Terry have had to put into place and execute over the last couple of years?

Andra Hedden:
The place we are now is, it’s amazing. It’s where we want to be going. And to be honest with you, we both, Terry and I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface. There’s so much needed in this space and we’re so incredibly passionate about helping these companies grow that we’re not stopping anytime soon. We really, really, really want to make sure that we’re going where the need is, which is actually the reason for this acquisition, the need and the desire for companies to continue to grow across the globe and want for an agency that lives in both places.

Andra Hedden:
So servicing locally from the states being based out of Florida, servicing locally from EMEA, being based out of London is very full to the client. So it’s one of those things I think, as an entrepreneur, as you’re mapping out where you want the business to go, the need has to be there.

Andra Hedden:
I think when entrepreneurs get in trouble sometimes is when they want there to be a need because they’re so passionate about something that they come up with a business and they go out and they launch it and then they wonder why no one is buying anything from them. And it’s because the need wasn’t there, whereas it just so happens that we’re blessed that there was a need with something we were passionate about.

Andra Hedden:
So it kind of matches up with each other very, very nicely. But with what you were sharing, as you build out and it’s not the same today as it was in the beginning, when we started, it was Terry and I, we were our sales and service. And I think one of the things that we’ve been able to do a decent job over or at least we try very hard is keeping the lines very clear from both of us, what we’re working on, partnering very, very well and playing off of each other’s strengths.

Andra Hedden:
We’re very similar in a lot of ways, and we’re extremely different in a lot of ways. And I think that has really led to the ability to grow in the way that we have and continue to lean on each other’s strengths as we grow. In the beginning, it was us doing everything obviously. And then you bring in one person, then you bring in some junior level individuals, maybe some middle management, maybe some leaders after that.

Andra Hedden:
Now we’re to the point where we’re 175 team members and we’re very lucky to have leadership in place from an executive standpoint. It’s not just the two of us at the table. We have a leadership team, which is amazing. We’ve got upper level management and directors. We’ve got mid-level management, we’ve got individual contributors and having the ability to have a structure that supports the growth or attempting to create throughout the world is extremely important. Without that, if it was too reliant on, let’s say he and I, and we hadn’t built that foundation, oftentimes you find yourself in a situation where you can’t scale.

Andra Hedden:
So having these amazingly smart individuals around us, it’s a bigger picture than the two of us now. It’s way than us and that’s what we wanted. So it becomes more fun. And there’s more people to celebrate with, there’s more people to do things with and it’s more of an impact can be made.

Paul Green:
Yes. And if we look at acquisition, which lots of MSPs think about acquisition, and obviously you’ve just acquired a business. I’m in the process of buying a much smaller business as side project, outside of technology. The agency you acquired here in London is called Continuity, and very quite well respected agency, relatively new to the scene in agency terms.

Paul Green:
But you’ve certainly, I think you acquired some good people here. That’s my gut feel. And they can pay me later for… You should give them all pay rises Andra, you’d have to really. There’s live of fear I think when you do something for the first time, for you to buy a business that you don’t really know what you’re buying. As much as you can do your due diligence and you can look at reputation and you can meet with the people, I think until you actually get in, you don’t really know what you are buying and you are buying it, I don’t know how many thousand miles we are from Tampa here.

Paul Green:
But we’re some distance from Tampa. It’s not like you can just hop in the car and just drive 30 minutes down the road. Talk me through how you’ve overcome that fear. Because what you’ve done here is something that big businesses do often, because they have a huge amount of infrastructure in place to mitigate that risk.

Paul Green:
And if it goes wrong, again, the risk is mitigated. Talk me through how you and Terry… Was the plan to acquire, or was it an opportunity that just came up that you couldn’t miss? And how did you in your minds and in your emotions, because guessing you think about business seven days a week, 24 hours a day, which is the downside of being married to your business partner. But how did you reach that point where emotionally you were comfortable with this next level event?

Andra Hedden:
Every year we put together our goals, obviously for the year. And now we do that with our executive team, it used to just be the two of us. One of the goals we had for 2020 was to put in London on the ground, local support for EMEA clients. Now back to what we chatted about a moment ago, which is making sure the need is there.

Andra Hedden:
It wasn’t just because we both love London, which I do. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world. It was because there’s a need. So current clients were interested in us supporting locally in other places. And if that need wasn’t there, there’s more than enough business to do in the states. We could have stayed in the states for years and been just fine, but clients really were interested in what it could look like to get support across the globe.

Andra Hedden:
And as you know, many of the heads of Channel, live in one place or the other and they head Channel globally. So wouldn’t it be nice to have one company that you interface with and partner with that can support you and your partners in both places?

Andra Hedden:
So that was really what drove it. Now, 2020 happened, and we all know what happened in 2020. So we really did not think that the plan we initially had in place to start a company in EMEA was going to happen in that year. And sure enough, it didn’t, but it happened in Q1 of 2021. So it only took us a couple months later. And in March of 2021, we stood up our first office here, which was for local Tela support. It’s a big part of our business Tela support, and the closing the leads created by the marketing that happens and setting those appointments.

Andra Hedden:
We started that in March of 2021. Stood that up during the pandemic with great individuals that helped with that during that time. And the idea was always when the need came to build an agency around that and model it after the same type of structure we have in the states.

Andra Hedden:
We didn’t really have a timeline on that, but we knew that at some point in time it would make sense. But for the next couple of years, we’d actually go ahead and build that out. Fast forward, not too much longer, about eight months ago at this point, I get a LinkedIn message, back to the power of LinkedIn. I get a LinkedIn message from a co-founder of a company in the UK. And he says, I’d love to chat with you, I know about your company, I’d love to just jump on a call and chat.

Andra Hedden:
We partner with many companies that do marketing in lead generation or consulting or associations. There’s a lot of strength in partnership when you have similar skillsets. So I’m thinking this conversation will be about partnership. And sure enough, it was. It started off as potentially an ability for us to help them and supplement services that were not necessarily here locally.

Andra Hedden:
So they have an agency or they have an agency in the team, but didn’t do Tela. So the first initial thought was we could absolutely help supplement that for you. And we have those resources because we open them up in the UK already. You can tap into those while you’re providing your marketing. The conversation morphed from that into just something bigger. It was, we were already planning to come over here. The Continuity team, which is the company that we recently acquired. Continuity had been building the marketing agency for two and a half years and they were trying to figure out if they were going to start Tela, or if they were going to partner with someone to do Tela. We were already going to build an agency. So the more we discussed this and the more back to your point of good people, they’re amazing people, it made such perfect sense to just become one team.

Paul Green:
So essentially there was no fear because all the things seem to be right. So if you were to advise an MSP who is looking at buying a local competitor or putting together through acquisition, two or three MSPs, would you say to them to make it a personal thing, to make it about personal conversations or to slow it down? What would your advice be to someone else?

Andra Hedden:
I think in any acquisition is extremely important to make sure that the fundamentals of the business align with the fundamentals of your business that you currently have. And I mean this from a couple different perspectives. When you are buying a business, you’re building a different type of relationship. It’s almost like a marriage. You’re them into your world, everything has to line up.

Andra Hedden:
And so does that culture align with the culture that you currently have? Will that fit inside of your current business model? With some MSPs, if you’re acquiring other companies and other regions, maybe that’s not as big of a deal if they’re not going to be local with each other. But I think at the end of the day, any business, you run on morals, values, principles, and they have to align with anyone that’s coming inside of the business. So I think from a cultural perspective, it’s extremely important that it makes sense and that absolutely aligned with what the Continuity team has.

Andra Hedden:
It’s actually very ironic how similar the businesses are. And they’re just in their two and a half years and we’re just in the future for them. So I think culturally is one thing, financially is another. You really have to go through the business as you are doing your due diligence and understand where the business is at, how they’re structured. Do you want the business owners to stay in the business or not? How does the current team structure look? Will it work within what you already have?

Andra Hedden:
And really make sure too that the product set aligns. Sometimes that’s really difficult. You have to operationally integrate once you become one company, but then two, the product set. What does that learning curve look like if you’re either changing product sets or you’re morphing or standardising things across the board? So look into every single bit of it.

Andra Hedden:
And then make sure too that that partnership makes sense if they are staying on. In our case, the leaders are amazing, we really adore them and they are staying on board and their team is wonderful, they’ve done a great job building it. And it just, it works so perfectly with what we were building.

Andra Hedden:
So we’re kind of showing them the future because Marketopia is a few years ahead of them. But then also they are giving us two and a half years really quickly. So we didn’t have to build it here in the UK over the next two and a half years. So it was a very much a win-win.

Paul Green:
Yeah. Which is the beauty of acquisition anyway, isn’t it? Which is you jump forward. Andra, I could talk to you all day, but you’ve got meetings and I know you fly back to Tampa tomorrow, so thank you so much for your time. Before we finish, this might not work. This is a bit of a gamble this bit, because it’s a comedy one. Britishism, so you are now the US owner of a British business. So let me see if I can help you get the colloquialisms right. I can just tell this isn’t going to work. So team’s done a good job, what would you say to them?

Andra Hedden:
Well done or if that they’ve done a good job, great work.

Paul Green:
Great work. Okay. Yeah. I wouldn’t change any of that for the British. All right. How about what would be a rallying cry to get your team all motivated up?

Andra Hedden:
I don’t even know. What would you say about it?

Paul Green:
Rally? I’ll give you one, Tally-ho. Tally-ho. We have to say in a partial action. So you can practice if you want. Can you do Tally-ho.

Andra Hedden:
Tally-ho.

Paul Green:
That’s very good. Do you know what, I think we’ll stop it there. We’re not going to be Tally-ho.

Andra Hedden:
We might not be that different actually. Maybe we realise we’re not that different.

Paul Green:
I think you’re right. I think apart from the chips, crisp thing, which is just weird, that one is. But Andra, thank you very much. Just give us the 30 second rundown of what Marketopia can do to help an MSP and finish with your website address.

Andra Hedden:
If you are an MSP or a vendor looking to grow, that’s what we help with and we can help you from wherever you are at. So we’ll meet you where you’re at. We have products in our portfolio that can help all the way down from something extremely affordable, $20 a month, all the way up to extremely custom, which are obviously much more larger budgets.

Andra Hedden:
But we’re here to help. And we do everything from lead generation and marketing to, we have a community, we have a marketplace that will be coming out. So stay tuned for that. I’ll come on again next year to talk about that with you. But we’re here to help. So if you need help from any regard, visit us, we’re, marketopia.com and we look forward to talking with you.

Voiceover:
Coming up next week.

Heather Jarvis:
Hey everybody, I’m Heather Jarvis from jumpcloud.com. Next week, I’ll be on the episode to talk about really the human element of business and why people matter.

Paul Green:
We’ll also be talking next week about why you must put in place a strategic referral deal with a local web agency. It’s all to do with the way ordinary people think about computers and technology. You and I know that websites and managed services are two completely different things. But ordinary business owners and managers lump them together in their head.

Paul Green:
And that’s good news for you and the web agency, because it means you can actually have a ton of referrals to pass to each other. I’ll explain my thinking on that one and how you’d actually put that in place in next week’s show. We’re also going to be talking about LinkedIn Social Selling Index. It’s some thing that you can use to check out how well you are doing on LinkedIn. I’ll explain what it is and the benefits of working on it in the show next week.

Paul Green:
But on Thursday, the show about the show, it’s called Another Bite, and you can join me and host Sophie Law as we discuss some of the things that Andra and I were talking about in today’s Special. So please do subscribe to us on YouTube and also on the podcast platform that you prefer. 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.

 

 

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