Episode 159: Google your MSP again

Episode 159: Google your MSP again

Paul Green

Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Episode 159: Google your MSP again
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Episode 159

Welcome to the MSP Marketing Podcast with me, Paul Green. This week’s show includes:
  • 00:00 Is ‘data capture’ dead?
  • 07:02 Why you need to keep Googling your MSP
  • 11:27 Monthly recurring revenue from selling marketing services
  • 25:00 A great book recommendation about discovering the best plan for your MSP

Featured guest:

Andrew Down is a featured guest on Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast

Thank you to Andrew Down, IT Channel Leader at Vendasta, for joining me to talk about how to generate monthly recurring revenue from selling marketing services.

Andrew’s role includes consulting and influencing various segments of the business with a core focus on the Go-to-market strategy and sales efforts for new and existing channel partners in the tech space.  An avid runner, Andrew has run over 25 half marathons and recently completed the New York City Marathon.

Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn:
http://linkedin.com/in/andrewdown

Extra show notes:

Episode transcription

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

Paul Green:
Good day to thee. A little bit of Shakespeare there to start the show. Here’s what we got coming up for you this week.

Andrew Down:
With websites and SMBs, they know they need it, and that’s where the MSP can be that expert and make the recommendations of what else is required.

Paul Green:
That’s my special guest, Andrew Down, and he’ll be here later on with a potential new revenue stream for you. Could you imagine selling marketing services to your clients? It potentially could be easier than you think. I’m also going to be asking, when was the last time that you actually Googled your MSP?

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.

Paul Green:
I want to start this week’s show with quite a difficult question for me to answer, because it’s quite an emotional subject, and you’ll think I’m a bit weird when you hear what the question is. The question is, is data capture dead? Now, let me define what I mean by data capture. I mean when someone comes onto your MSP’s website and there’s a form that they can fill in order for them to get something or to join your mailing list. Now the reason this is such an emotive subject for me is, I’ve built up this business initially, certainly in the first two, three years. And I built up my entire last business, which I ran for 11 years and sold in 2016. I pretty much built those up on data capture. So all of the prospects in my last business and many of the MSPs that I’m working with today and that still get my emails or are part of my audiences, they all came through data capture.
People were driven to my website and they chose to opt into my marketing, but that was then. And I’ve got to be honest, if I look at what marketing is working for us right now, and more so what marketing is working for the MSPs that we are close to, increasingly data capture does not feature in the top marketing tactics. Now let me clarify exactly what I mean by data capture, and good, good practice, best practice of data capture.
You see, data capture has been around for 25 years or so. We’re talking right back to the late ’90s. And in fact back then, when there were very few websites around, you could get away with just putting something on your website that said, “Please sign up for our newsletter.” And back in the late ’90s, people did because they didn’t get that much spam. Whereas of course these days, certainly over the last 10, 15 years or so, we all have too much spam.
No one wants more email, literally no one. So increasingly over the last 10, 15 years, you’ve had to really work hard to get someone to give you their contact details. Now this is easy for consumer facing businesses, E-commerce stores, those people, they can just do newsletters. And people will sign up for newsletters if it’s a product they’re thinking of buying. Consumer driven businesses can do competitions, give away things like iPads, or even just their products. It’s a lot easier for them than it is for us. B2B data capture has been getting harder and harder. I’ve always been a fan of the ethical bribe. And in fact, I still do use the ethical bribe today. What’s an ethical bribe?
Well, it’s something you give to someone in return for their contact details. So for many years, I gave away a book called Updating Servers Doesn’t Grow Your Business. And that book’s now out of print, by the way. We have no copies of that left. We’ve given them all away. And what I basically said to thousands of MSPs was, “You go onto my website. You fill in your contact details. And I will send you a physical, I’ll literally ship you, a copy of that book completely free of charge.” And that worked really well. We got thousands of MSPs choosing to join our database using that book. And I do still have a version of that now. If you go onto my website, paulgreensmspmarketing.com, you’ll see… If you go into the learning hub, you’ll see this is now a free magazine. We created something new. It’s an eight-page magazine, and you can still get that. But we don’t get that many people actually going through with that.
And this is one of the things that’s made me think over the last year, six months, nine months or so, that data capture has really changed. The ethical bribe can work well. It still has a place. But increasingly, it’s getting harder and harder and harder to get people to do that, to get them to hand over their contact details. And you compare that to how much easier it is to get people to connect to you on LinkedIn, or follow you on LinkedIn if you’re set up in creator mode, or subscribe to you on YouTube, or even do something like listen to a podcast. We have thousands of MSPs that listen to this podcast. And they’re choosing to do so, as are you. And thank you very much. I really genuinely appreciate you watching us on YouTube or listening to us on whichever platform you’re on.
And so increasingly now, when I’m talking to MSPs, I’m downgrading data capture as a marketing method. It’s still in the mix. But whereas, five years ago it was right at the top of the mix. Increasingly now, it’s underneath LinkedIn. It’s underneath other social outlets. I say to MSPs now, email marketing still has value, huge amounts of value, but where you get the email addresses from has changed. Take the data you’ve already got from everyone you’ve ever met. And just as you’re going forward, every phone call from someone new, every web form that’s filled in, every business card that lands in your hand, every networking event you go to, those email addresses go into your email database. Data capture on your website is increasingly being pushed down, and down, and down. I think just in talking about this, I think I’ve almost made my mind up that maybe data capture has had its day, for B2B businesses.
We won’t be walking away from it, but now it’s just one of a number of things that we do. And maybe it’s the time for you to do that. Not that many MSPs have really embraced data capture fully anyway. But if data capture has been an important marketing channel for you, I think we’re at the stage now where you can downgrade it. Actually take the effort and the time and the focus that you previously have put into data capture and put that into LinkedIn, or get a YouTube channel going, or get a podcast going. Increasingly, creating content that people can find and that they can choose to consume has more value to you in the long-term than just trying to get someone to give you their email address. Do email marketing. Make sure that you have an email database, but you’re going to have to fill that up using different techniques than just data capture.

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

Paul Green:
So in the last bit, I started with a scary question for me. Now, here’s a scary question for you. When was the last time you Googled your MSP? And when I say by Googling it, I mean you actually put the name into Google in speech marks, so you’re getting exact hits, things that have been said about your business. And then you didn’t just look on page one, you looked on page two, three, four, five, maybe you even go up to page 10. Every MSP owner I have ever got to do this has discovered something that slightly terrified them. It might be a bad review that was left on some random reviews platform that they didn’t know about, or it might be a good thing. It might be a mention of them somewhere… There’s always something.
Often, we’ve had people certainly here in the UK finding information about themselves on business data platforms that they didn’t know. Very simple process. It’s worth you doing once every six months or so. Go put your business name into speech marks, put it into Google, and Google the next page, the next page, the next page. Don’t just look at the first page, even though that’s the page most people look at. You want to see exactly what’s being said about you until you run out of mentions of your business. Now, we call this your digital footprint. It is what is there, what’s out there, about your business. And the reason it’s important for you to be on top of this is because that’s what some of your potential future customers are doing before they’ll do business with you. They will Google you to see what is being said about your business. They will Google you to find the reviews that people are writing that you didn’t necessarily solicit yourself.
And that’s why at the very least, you need to be aware what is out there. Your digital footprint is the thing that sits on the internet. And of course, it being 2022, it is changing all of the time, which is why it’s worth repeating this on a six-month basis. I’ll tell you the other thing you could do, which is pretty cool, is you could set up a Google alert for your business name. Depending on what your name is… My name’s Paul Green. There are literally a million Paul Greens in the world, so I don’t have a Google alert on the name Paul Green because there’s a footballer… I think the School of Rock has a Paul Green. There’s loads of us around. There’s a shoe manufacturer as well. But I certainly have Google alerts on my business name and on the legal entity, the company name, and other things of interest.
So, do this exercise, this digital footprint check, every six months. And go and set yourself up Google alerts for anything that’s of importance, maybe your name, certainly your company name. By the way, it can be a pretty good way of keeping track of competitors as well. And how do you find Google alerts? You just Google, Google Alerts. Really as simple as that.

Voiceover:
Paul’s blatant plug.

Paul Green:
Right back at the beginning of the show when I was asking the question, is data capture dead? I admitted that we are still doing data capture on our website. So I might as well give it a bit of a plug in case you want to go and pop your email address in it. We have a free magazine. It’s called the MSP Marketing Magazine, and it’s eight pages of goodness. If you like the podcast, you’ll love what’s in this magazine.
We’ve got some case studies of marketing that MSPs have done. We’ve got a talk about a powerful MSP marketing strategy. And it’s also a piece in there about how to reach ordinary business owners. Now, if you are in the UK or the US, we will physically ship a copy of this to you for free. That’s the ethical bribe that I was talking about earlier. Everywhere else in the world, I’m sorry, you’ll just have to have a PDF only because we’ve got warehouses with copies of these sat in the UK and in the US. So all you do is go onto paulgreensmspmarketing.com. Go to the learning hub, and you’ll see the magazine up at the top. You can just click on that or tap on that, enter your details, and you’ll get a free magazine in the post. Yes, you will go on my email list. Of course, you can unsubscribe if you don’t want to, but we’re not going to spam you with stuff. We’re just going to send you useful marketing stuff to help you grow your MSP.

Voiceover:
The big interview.

Andrew Down:
Hi, I’m Andrew Down, IT Channel Leader at Vendasta Technologies with a core focus on our go-to-market strategy and sales efforts for MSPs.

Paul Green:
And the reason I wanted to get you onto this podcast, Andrew, is because I think you might have one of the answers to a common question that many MSPs are asked. That question of course being, do you do websites? Now, I know it’s a weird thing, isn’t it? Because you and I know that MSPs don’t do websites. And yet, the ordinary business owners and managers that they’re looking after, they perceive that it’s a computer thing. That websites are computer things, and you’re computer guys, so those two things must go together. Why do you think business owners so often ask MSPs about websites and about other digital marketing technologies and techniques?

Andrew Down:
It’s a great question, Paul. I think it really comes down to your point. The SMB, when they think of the Internet, when they think of online, they think IT. And to the average doctor, lawyer, hair salon, that an MSP may be servicing, they’re their trusted provider. They’re the most trusted expert that they have. I was a previous owner of an MSP. And the reality is, you have the admin credentials and passwords of your customers. You know everything about their business, and they trust you with their technology. And I think as the world’s evolved into more of this digital space, we’re talking from Canada to the UK, there’s a real, growing need for these services, and the MSPs are being asked. And to your points, often are saying no or not sure where to go, because it’s not something that they specialise.

Paul Green:
Yeah, absolutely. So I appreciate that this is what your platform does, and we’ll go on to talk about that, and how it actually could become a new revenue stream for MSPs. Before we get to that, I want to talk about perceived difficulties that MSPs might have in selling digital marketing. I’ve just remembered something.
My last ever proper job, before I started my first business in 2005, I worked for a company called Johnston Press. You wouldn’t know who they were, but they owned… I don’t know if they even exist anymore, but they owned hundreds of local newspapers here in the UK. And I was actually employed back in 2004, 2005. I was employed to work in their digital production unit, and I was the only journalist there. So everyone else were developers, or advertising executives, or whatsoever. They actually genuinely had a conversation at one point in this company… Well, there were two funny things, two funny conversations.
One of them was a conversation where they talked about the guys that ran the printing presses taking over the digital department. And the mindset of the board at the time, bear in mind this is 18 years ago, their mindset was actually, the people who print the newspapers, surely that’s no different than putting together a website for the newspapers. And in their head, the executives at the time actually connected those two things, which I guess is, as you say, business owners now maintaining proactive stuff on computers with websites.
As a side note, the other interesting thing that board allegedly asked was, who owns the Internet and can we buy it? So that shows you… It’s a true story. I’ve been told. I wasn’t in that board meeting, but that shows the level of technical ability in that business back in 2004. So you used to run an MSP yourself, so you’ve come up against the question, and I’m sure before you got involved with Vendasta and you started seeing how digital marketing services could be delivered. You must have had that fear when a client said to you, “Oh, could you help us with your website?” The people are asking the question, and yet MSPs don’t feel they can deliver.

Andrew Down:
Yeah, for sure. It’s always one of those things you’re not sure really what to say. You don’t want to say no, and you definitely don’t want to say yes because you don’t have the expertise. And what I explored early on was local partnerships with agencies. So we had a couple local digital marketing agencies that we could work with and that’s great. And we would refer clients, and you build that network of like-minded business owners.
The challenge always came back to though, how are we truly going to monetize and drive additional revenue? And if we don’t offer these services and one of our competitors does, do we risk losing because they’re looking for that single, trusted expert? And I really think one of the values of Vendasta is, we have a fulfillment team. We have over 200 marketing services professionals that are building websites, writing blogs, doing social posts for SMBs. And we can fulfill the work for a channel partner, fully white-labeled on the back end, so it’s still your brand, still your expertise, and reputation. But it allows you to say yes, and get that additional sticky recurring software driven revenue that so exists in the digital marketing world.

Paul Green:
Seeing as you insist on dropping in little adverts for Vendasta throughout the interview, I’m going to ask you the tough questions. This is a tough question. I can see, for an MSP listening to this who might engage with you to sell websites and other digital marketing services, the thing that they would be most scared of is you screwing up something for their client. Or not just you, a web agency, any external partner doing something.
Someone’s marketing is an incredibly emotive thing. And I know this because I work with people on their marketing literally day in, day out. Everyone has an opinion on it. Everyone seems to know whether your website is any good or not, whether your marketing’s any good or not, and it’s a very emotive thing. And I can see an MSP who’s got a very strong, long relationship with their client being utterly terrified about trying to deliver something that actually they’re not an expert at.

Andrew Down:
100%. It’s probably why I joined Vendasta, why I was brought over and exited my MSP, was to build some credibility in the space. And I think the reality is, it’s similar to a manufacturer relationship. The goal of an MSP, if you’re selling laptops as an example… Let’s say you specialise in Lenovo or HP. The goal is that you know the product. You’re able to position the good, better, best scenario. You’re giving options. But when it maybe gets more technical, or it’s outside of your scope, or you’re not sure about the latest product, you bring in your Lenovo rep as the trusted, third-party expert to help validate the solution.
And we’re no different. We do a lot of four-legged sales calls and jump on discovery and discussions with the SMBs. We’re there to help validate and provide assurance. So it’s not that we leave you hanging and we expect you to be digital marketing experts. The goal is that you learn a bit, and we help build some curated packages that you can learn and resell. But we’re there on the back end to help. So we do customer-facing calls with our MSP partners, and can answer questions direct to the SMB, or for you and your business.

Paul Green:
In the future, you should really think about being a politician. Because you’re taking every question I ask you and you’re giving me back the answer you want to give, not answering the question I’m giving you. Literally, that is Core 101 politician skill there. So I expect you to be the Mayor of your town at the very least in the near future.

Andrew Down:
Not in the cards, but I appreciate it.

Paul Green:
Okay, well you never know. Never say no to a new opportunity. Although, who would want to be an elected official today? Talking about those business owners, the SMBs as you’ve called them. What do they most want? So we’ve talked about websites, and we know that a website is the big thing. It’s the Holy Grail. Every business needs one, and most of them have one. What are the other services these days that they’re looking to buy?

Andrew Down:
I’m not sure that they always know what they want. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. And I think everyone thinks you need a website. Everyone knows you need a website, just like everyone assumes you need a store, a brick and mortar retail store. But if you don’t have the roads built to the store, and you don’t have signage up in your city promoting the location, it’s really hard to drive awareness and views.
And so, it’s not just about the website. It’s that whole digital customer journey of awareness, and online reviews, and credibility, and all of those pieces of the puzzle. A great website that no one goes to is just like a great podcast that no one listens to. And you have lots of listeners, and so it’s a great resource that people are coming and learning these adjustable little nuggets of information. If no one was listening, we could have the most amazing conversation, and you and I would love it, but then it just dies there. And my wife would hear it, and that’d be it. So I think similarly with websites and SMBs, they know they need it. They don’t necessarily know what else. And that’s where the channel partner, the MSP, can be that expert and make the recommendations of what else is required. So things like SEO, and ads, and reviews, and all those sorts of things.

Paul Green:
Yeah. And do you recommend to your MSP partners that they are completely open about the fact that they have partnered with you and you were saying that you jump onto calls. Or do you recommend the MSPs try to position you inside their business? Because there’s a very fine line of truth there that you’ve got to be careful with.

Andrew Down:
100%, there is. One thing I’m proud with Vendasta is, we are 100% through the channels, so we do not sell direct to SMBs. In the digital marketing world, we partner with a lot of agencies. And they like to keep it a secret. No one wants to share the secret sauce.
And one thing I love about IT, I’ve been in the channel for 15 years, I love that it’s relationship driven. And I love that people genuinely want to share their secrets and their success. You see a lot of peer groups and different businesses working together in various regions. So a lot of our customers do be fairly transparent and say, “We partnered with Vendasta.” We’re based in Canada. We’re a fast-growing company. We’re friendly. We’re well-known in our market. Most of our businesses are in the US though, similar to you and the viewers of this podcast. So I think it’s important to have that fine line. If it makes sense, share away. We’re happy to be mentioned. We’re also happy to work behind the scenes under your brand. So whatever makes sense for you and your market. But to your point, I think a lot do like to share. They’ve partnered with or they’re leveraging the resources of Vendasta.

Paul Green:
Yeah, I think if I had a marketing agency, which I did. That was my very first business I started. I think I would keep that relationship quiet. But if I owned an MSP… Because it’s not the core skill set. Marketing isn’t the core skill of an MSP. I would absolutely own up to that partnership, and in fact embrace it. Because as you say, you’ve got a big, fast-growing, knowledgeable company powering the marketing services. And I think business owners are pretty sophisticated these days. So tell us a little bit about Vendasta. How long has it been going? You mentioned you’re in Canada and you’re fast-growing. Give us some of the credibility stats about the business.

Andrew Down:
Yeah, for sure. Vendasta’s been around for 14 years. It started as really a point solution around reputation management. And over the years, it’s grown. We’re now, proudly, over 700 employees, about 500 based in North America. And with some recent private equity, we’ve been making some major acquisitions in the digital landscape. So we’ve acquired a company CalendarHero. I like to call it Calendly on steroids, but a nice natural add-on to a Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace. There’s another acquisition that, by the time this podcast airs, will be public, but today I got to keep private.

Paul Green:
I like it.

Andrew Down:
Things that are being added on to to our ecosystem. And we’re now an end-to-end platform. We have a CRM. We have marketing automations, email campaigns. We have a cloud marketplace of over 250 brands of products and services like Google Workspace in the marketplace. So all of these software solutions and services are available to our channel partners, and we continue to grow. We continue to acquire. And I only joined two years ago. I was employee 400 and some, and we’re now over 700. So it’s really been a rocketship the last, especially three to four years, for Vendasta.

Paul Green:
Yeah, sounds it. With secret acquisition deals going through… I love that cloak and dagger stuff. Tell us how we can get in touch with you then, Andrew. And what’s the best next step?

Andrew Down:
Yeah, I’d love to chat with anyone who wants to learn more, share feedback. I would say what we’re doing is not for everyone. A lot of MSPs are very cut and dry. We do cybersecurity. That’s it. We do networks. We do email. I love having those conversations. My background is running an MSP. I came to Vendasta because I believe that this is the future of the channel. We’ve seen agencies and MSPs merge. We’ve actually had channel partners acquire each other, where an MSP buys an agency to be a more full-fledged technical consultant.
I think in the future, MSPs will offer digital services. And agencies will have to have a security offering, whether that be official partnership, acquisition, or through third parties like Vendasta. The best way is email, adown@vendasta.com. My cell phone is on LinkedIn. And like I said, I love talking IT channel and all things technology with anyone who wants to chat.

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

Stuart Holtby:
Hi, I’m Stuart Holtby from GetInSync, and the book I recommend is The Nine Lies About Work. There’s a really good chapter in there about, the problem most businesses have today is they believe that the best plans win. Well, this commonly held certainty is a lie. According to Marcus Buckingham, who is the author of the book, we don’t know how to do the right plan in the right way.

Voiceover:
Coming up next week.

Per Sjöfors :
Hi, there. My name is Per Sjöfors, and I’m also known as The Price Whisperer. I’m going to be with Paul next week and talk about why pricing is so important for your company, and how you can use pricing as a profit lever and drive unsurpassed business results.

Paul Green:
Wherever you listen to this podcast, make sure you subscribe and you’ll never miss an episode. Because on top of next week’s interview, we’re also talking about how to turn tech stuff into relevant content that ordinary business owners and managers will find interesting. Got an example for you around passkeys, the new replacement for the password. That’s coming up next week.
Plus, I suspect that someone will be fired as a result of next week’s podcast. I’m going to challenge you to get rid of your worst member of staff, and I’ll have an assessment method for you to figure out who should go. We’ve got a ton more content at our YouTube channel. It’s youtube.com/mspmarketing. 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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