Welcome to the MSP Marketing Podcast with me, Paul Green. This is THE show if you want to grow your MSP. This week’s show includes:
00:00 How a change of environment could help boost your productivity
07:03 Three MSP media release ideas to swipe & use
17:27 The future of on-demand sales is AaaS – Anything as a Service
Thank you to Mark Wass, Strategic Sales Director at CloudBlue, for joining me to talk about how he helps make it easier for MSPs and other businesses to offer services ‘on-demand’ (AKA ‘Anything as a Service’), providing flexibility for their customers.
Mark heads up Enterprise and Strategic Sales in the UK & North EMEA for CloudBlue, working with clients to drive their digital transformation and growth strategy.
He is experienced in leading and managing high performing sales teams and territories, and is responsible for go to market strategy, regional growth and the acquisition of net new logos and revenue.
Connect with Mark on LinkedIn:
Extra show notes:
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Fresh every Tuesday, for MSPs around the world. This is Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.
Good day to thee, and welcome to the podcast. Here’s what we’ve got lined up for you this week.
Hi, I’m Mark Wass from CloudBlue, and I’m going to be on the show discussing everything as a service, and how money service providers and service providers out there can provide services to their customers as a subscription, and they can start moving and turning into them aggressive digital service providers.
So on top of that interview with Mark, we also talking about how you can get free publicity in your local media. And I’ve got three specific ideas to give to you later in the show.
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.
The question I’m going to ask you next kind of depends on where you are within your day. I have no idea what time you are listening to or watching this podcast, but my question is this; how productive have you been today? And I ask this because I’m recording this podcast towards the end of the day, it’s around about, well, it’s quarter to six on a Thursday evening as I record this. And I’ve had a very productive date today. And one of the reasons I’ve had a very productive day is because I’ve moved around to what I think is more locations than I’ve ever moved around before. You see, I don’t know about you, but I find that when I’m in the same location all the time, I get almost an itchy bum. I need to just move and my mind gets clogged up. It’s like I’m stuck in this place and I’m unable to produce an amount of work. And I’ve noticed that that tends to last, well, I tend to get around about 90 to 120 minutes. So up to around two hours in one location before I need to move.
Now, back in the old days when I had an office and a building with staff, I was exactly the same. If I look back now, I used to go and sit in my office for a couple of hours and then I’d move to the meeting room, and then I’d move out into the office where the team were. That didn’t last very long because obviously they were talking to me. And then so I’d go and find a coffee shop somewhere. And looking back, actually, for the last 10, 15 years or so, I’ve been pretty much the same, where I’ve needed to move around. Now, it took me a few years to realize that it was the refreshing of my environment that helped me keep my productivity high. Now, maybe this is just me. This is the danger of doing something like this in a podcast before you discuss it with other people. You might not be like this at all, I might just be one of those really weird people who needs to wander around a lot.
But if I sit in the same place, in the same environment for too long, then I don’t get as much done. And actually, that happens across all of my life. I find myself moving around into different environments all the time. So I have a home office, I work from home, but we’ve still got the builders in. Yes, I have been talking about it for months and they’re still here. Progress has just slowed, its ground to a halt. And so I couldn’t work from here today, so I dropped my daughter off at school and then first thing I did was I went to Leon. Leon is a little chain in the UK. I had breakfast at Leon, that was great. Nice, healthy breakfast. Did a couple of hours there. Then I moved over to a Starbucks just across the way. And then later on, I moved to another Starbucks, a different one in the city. And then I moved to, and for those in the UK, you’re going to judge me on this, but I moved to a Wetherspoon.
Don’t judge me on Wetherspoons, Wetherspoons is basically a pub chain in the UK that people have quite an opinion on, but hey, it cost me £1.45 for unlimited tea and coffee, and their wifi was fast enough to upload some videos. So that couldn’t have been a bad thing. And then where did I finish off today? Oh, I finished at a Costa Coffee, which is another coffee chain. So I moved around all these different locations before I had to pick up my child from school. And it was like each time I got there, each time I had a deadline. Maybe this is the secret to this, it was a deadline of things. So at one of the locations I had 90 minutes of parking because that’s all you get for free before you need to pay. So that was a frenzy of 90 minutes. I ordered my coffee, frenzy, frenzy, frenzy, get work done, get work done, boom, and then I’m off to another location. And each time I get to that new location, I pick a new spot.
I’m in a different chair, I’ve got a different desk, sometimes it’s my laptop on my lap, but I’ve changed my environment. And actually, for me, a hell day is being stuck all day, let’s say, it’s a day of doing Zoom calls or something, I’m stuck all day in the same environment. And I don’t just find this with day-to-day working, sometimes I try and completely change my environment. Like I’ll go and spend 24 hours in London, which is only kind of like 45 minutes away on the train for me. But if I can go and spend a day in London, and maybe even have a night staying over in London, if I can find somewhere to get rid of the child for the night, it’s amazing how much work I get done because I’ve completely changed my environment, because I can work of an evening. I’m not in my house, I’m sat in a pub having a beer that will last me two hours, getting work done. And I find that this is really good for productivity.
How are you with this? Do you have exactly the same thing? Do you have a point in your afternoon where you run out of energy? Maybe, just maybe, it’s worth, at that point, trying to get out of your office. What if, after lunch every day, you just left your office and found yourself a coffee shop or a hotel lobby or a restaurant somewhere you could just go and work and spend a couple of pounds or a couple of dollars on a coffee or a Pepsi or whatever, a Pepsi Max, Diet Pepsi, we mustn’t have sugar, and just spent the time working on your business. What if that got you through that energy lull of the afternoon? What if the energy lull was actually an environment lull? This might not be you, as I say, this might be a completely out there thing for me, but I’ve certainly found that changing my environment regularly makes quite a difference to my own productivity. It’s kind of the same thing when you go on holiday, isn’t it?
You know when you get away, you have the whole airport thing, you get to your holiday home, and that first 24 hours, you’re trying to unwind from not just the stress of life but the stress of travel. Because traveling is quite stressful because of deadlines and cues and security. But actually, once you’ve got past that first 24 hours, you’re in a different environment and you start to think differently when often you’ll find that your life partner says to you, “Oh, I like going on holiday because that’s when I see the real you again.” It’s that person that they fell in love with years and years ago, it kind of comes back again during a holiday because you relax a bit, you change your environment.
And do you find this as well, that you start thinking better thoughts about your business? You start thinking in different directions, you start thinking bigger. This is the power of being in a different environment. It’s why I’m so keen for everyone, all MSPs, you and everyone else listening to this, to take more vacations, take more holidays. But we can do this on a mini basis by changing our environment and where we work today. Go on, try it. Let me know how you get on.
Here’s this week’s clever idea.
If you’ve been a listener or a viewer of this podcast for some time, and if you have, thank you very much for sticking with us, then you might know that I haven’t always been a marketing guy, I actually started my career at the tender age of 19 as a newspaper reporter, and then went on to have a 10-year media career, most of that spent within radio. I adored working in radio. It was just local commercial music radio, but I met some great people there and just had such great fun. And for 10 years, it was awesome. And then it stopped being awesome, so I stopped doing it. But because of that media background, because I am actually a formerly trained journalist, which I think is hilarious still to this day, it’s, for me, one of the marketing channels still that you can use to promote your MSP is your local media. Now, sure, when I was 19, back in 1995, I appreciate there’s people listening to this who probably weren’t alive in 1995, anyway, when I was starting as a journalist in 1995, your local newspaper, your local radio station, they had massive audiences.
In fact, they controlled the eyeballs and the ears. If you wanted to reach people, decision makers, back in the nineties, you had to pay the magazines or the newspapers or the TV or the radio stations or some other the distribution, because all of the distribution was controlled by the media companies. And now, here in 2023, well, the distribution is in our hands. So we still have these newspapers and radio stations. There aren’t quite as many of them, they’re certainly not taking anywhere near the amount of money they used to take, and definitely aren’t making the amount of profit they used to make, but they are around. And what’s still good about local media is not distribution, its credibility. You see, if your local newspaper or your local radio station or TV station talks about you or mentions you in the context of technology or cybersecurity, this is amazing positioning, because even though they no longer have anywhere near the reach that they used to have, they still have the credibility.
In our era, where anyone can publish anything at any time, the fact that you’ve got these 20, 30, 40, sometimes 50-year-old brands, the newspaper and the radio brands, still putting out content, they have huge amounts of credibility. So if you can get into your local newspaper, that’s a massive thing for you. Now, the easy way, well, not the easy way, but one of the ways to get featured by your local media is to send them a press release, also known as a media release. Why would you do this? And by the way, I’m about to give you two or three great ideas, specific ideas that you can use. Why would you send something out as a press release? Because actually, that’s how the vast majority of media gets its stories. People perceive that journalists are out there sniffing out stories, looking for things. And yes, there are still some journalists who are investigating or writing features, but certainly, nowadays now, there’s so much pressure on reporters, on writers to output tons of content, it’s just easier for them to use media releases.
And they will look at the stream of media releases coming in and they will rewrite some of those, they will get people for interview off the back of those. They don’t necessarily tell you that they’re doing it, but it’s just an easy source of news. And to a certain extent, when you’re sending out a media release, a press release, you are playing the numbers game. When I worked in the media, we would get hundreds and hundreds of press releases a day, and you might get a press release once every month from the same company. And for the first four or five months, you might completely ignore it. And then suddenly, one day, a press release turns up from that company on a day where you have nothing to write about. And believe me, those days happen, they’re called slow news days. It’s where there just doesn’t seem to be anything new to write about. And then a press release turns up and it’s about cybercrime and it’s from a company that is local because they send out press releases on a regular basis.
And there’s a little thing at the back of your brain, as the journalist, that says, “I think I could turn this into something,” because you’re, I’m not going to use you a desperate, but you’re very keen to generate new content. So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to give you three specific headlines. So these are press releases that I have written in the past for members of my MSP Marketing Edge service. Every month we give our 700 members all around the world, we give them a specific press release with instructions, how to send it to their local media. And the whole point of that is, as I say, it’s to get the local media to write about you for credibility purposes. Once you’ve had something in the local newspaper or on their website, or ideally on the local radio station, you can take a copy of that, you can use that in other pieces of your marketing. You can say, “As seen in this newspaper,” or, “As heard on this radio station.”
Subject to copyright laws, and there are different laws in different countries, you can take a copy of that, you can put it in your marketing materials, you can certainly link to their website or take a screenshot of their website and put that on your About Us page with a link to say, “Hey, we are in the so-and-so newspaper last week. Go and see us here.” That coverage is not going to get you a huge amount of tension, it’s certainly not going to win you new clients. Some of your existing clients may comment on it, they might say, “Oh, we saw you in so-and-so newspaper last week.” But the principal goal of this is credibility. It’s part of your domination. You’ve got to dominate your local market. And that’s a subject we’re going to be talking about in the podcast in a few weeks’ time. But let me give you three headlines. So as I say, these are real headlines from real press releases I’ve done in the years past for my MSP Marketing Edge members.
And I’ll just explain what you would do with each story. So the first one is this, so this is the headline, it’s the headline of the press release, which means that when you send it out to the journalist, because a press release is just something you email out, this is what goes in the subject line of the email. So they get an email, this is the subject line, they open it up, and then you write the story. Essentially all a press release is a story suggestion. You are suggesting something to them. So the first headline is this, “Don’t Click That Link! ‘Town Name’ Businesses’ Biggest Risk is Cybercrime”. Let me say that again for you. And of course, this is on the transcript, we have a transcript on our website at paulgreensmspmarketing.com. Just go to the podcast section and look for this episode, episode 177. Here’s the headline again though, “Don’t Click That Link! ‘Town Name’ Businesses’ Biggest Risk is Cybercrime”
So it’s fairly self-explanatory what this is. It’s telling the audience how big cybercrime is. Now, you might listen to that and think, “Well, come on, Paul. Surely everyone knows that.” But they don’t. How many times have you sat down with the prospect and talked to them about security, and they’re not even doing the bare minimum? That happens on a regular basis. So I think we can generally agree that the audience that you are trying to talk to, the general business owners and managers out there, they really are not as aware of cybercrime as they need to be. And I would argue it’s part of your role as a prominent MSP in your town to educate people about this. So that’s the first one. The second one, and this is something you can use at Christmas, or just before the holidays in the summer, and this is the Christmas version of it, “Christmas Data Disaster: ‘Town Name’ Businesses Should Triple-Check Backups Before Holidays”. You can see how you could use that before the summer vacations as well.
Christmas Data Disaster: ‘Town Name’ Businesses Should Triple-Check Backups Before Holidays. Again, this is self-explanatory, isn’t it? Where people go off for the holidays, there might be a flood, there might be a fire, they might be burglarized or burgled, and suddenly their main computers have gone. “No worry,” they say, “because we’ve got a backup. Oh, we haven’t backed up since January.” That’s not the right time to find that out. Can you see what we’re doing here? Is we’re taking almost boring everyday occurrences that are routine for you, and we’re turning them into new stories because this is based on the principle, as I said, that the average business owner or manager you want to reach, this isn’t every day for them at all. Right, final suggestion for you, and this is the specific headline that I wrote, “World’s Worst Password.”
And then you put this in speech markets, in inverted commas, you say, “World’s Worst Password, ‘123456’, Still Being Used by Staff in ‘Town Name”. “World’s Worst Password, ‘123456’, Still Being Used by Staff in ‘Town Name”. Now, just go and Google password 123456, and you will find the latest research which shows that it is still one of the top used passwords. Now, I don’t know that, but I think I’ve used that press release headline about four times over the last six or seven years because every time you go and look at the list of the top 10 weakest most used passwords, 123456 is always in there or some variant of it. And obviously what this press release, this story suggestion allows you to do, is it allows you to talk about weak passwords and talk about random password generators and talk about password managers.
And again, ordinary business owners and managers don’t know as much about these things as you think or you or I might think that they do. So you’ve got three specific ideas there. They’re great ideas. Get them off to the media. Don’t overthink it. You’re not being a pest, they want your story suggestions. You’ll only be a pest if you ring them up after every single press release to see if they’re going to use it. If they’re going to use it, they’ll just use it, they won’t let you know. But what you can do of course, is set up a Google Alert for your MSP’s name and often that’s the first way that you find out that you’ve actually got yourself some valuable media coverage.
Paul’s blatant plug.
In that last bit, I mentioned the MSP Marketing Edge in how we give a press release to all 700 plus of our members. And you might be thinking, “But, Paul, surely that means that you’ve got people, the same people, sending the same press release to the same newspaper.” Well, no, we thought of that because right from the very first day that we launched that service, we only supply it to one MSP per area. Once you have it in your area, no one else can use that so long as you remain an active member. All the details are on the website. Go and have a look now and you can check. In fact, there’s a postcode and zip code checker to check to see if your area is still available, mspmarketingedge.com.
The big interview.
Hi, my name is Mark Wass and I am the Northern European Sales Director for CloudBlue.
And thank you so much for joining me on this podcast, Mark. Now, the first thing I want to ask you is what is CloudBlue? Because it sets context for all the conversation we’re going to have. So tell us a little bit of background about the business and also what you do within CloudBlue.
CloudBlue are a digital ecosystem and catalog service provider. So at our core, we’re actually a platform service provider. And what we actually do is we provide the underlying technology that allows businesses to launch B2B digital marketplaces for them to transform into essentially digital service providers, and provide services to their customer as a subscription-based model and anything as a service. So CloudBlue actually formed, we actually are part of Ingram Micro, and our technology actually underpins the Ingram Cloud Marketplace, which is actually the largest cloud marketplace globally. And our technology allows them to service all of their customers within their cloud marketplace globally. And our technology is where CloudBlue were formed in 2018 through a number of different acquisitions. And I head up the Northern European territory for the strategic sales team, and I lead that as the sales director for that team.
Okay, cool. There was lots of big words in there, and when we hear things like digital platform, I never like to assume anyone understands what that means. Actually, the link to Ingram Micro makes it clear because I think everyone knows what the shop offering is there, or certainly here in the UK anyway. So just explain for me, for the average MSP, what do you do for them and what’s the benefit for them of using your services? What’s the outcome they would get from that?
So if a managed service provider is looking to transform themselves and to grow and scale and sell more digital services to the likes of Microsoft licenses, AWF subscriptions, Azure subscriptions, cybersecurity, it allows them to sell them to their end customers in a completely automated way. So at one end you have a catalog, so a catalog of services, and allows an MSP to expand the briefcase, if you like. So when they open the brief, all the services that are able to be sold to their customers, it allows them to sell them in a completely automated way as a subscription. So at the other end, you may have the marketplace side of our platform, which is the nice front end where their customers can go in, they can see they can buy procure services, whether that’s buying them directly or being brought on behalf, their MSP buying them for them, and essentially, all of that management piece in between, so the subscription, the billing, the invoicing, the metering.
So where the real value comes into this, if an organization is looking to sell digital services and bundle their own IP together as a total solution, as a managed service provider, it allows them to do that and removes the complexity because what managed service providers and what tends to happen is as you try and grow and scale, it gets extremely complex to manage all of them subscriptions and manage all of them customers a as one go. And I think just to summarize that as we’re seeing the markets change, we know that customers now are very demanding. They want everything, they want it on demand. They want to go up, they want to go down, they want to turn it on, they want to turn it off. And our platform essentially allows you to do that and by removing that overall complexity for the MSP.
That makes perfect sense. Thank you for explaining that. But let me play devil’s advocate on this. So I’m not an MSP, I’m not a technical person, but I speak to so many MSPs and work so closely with them. And I don’t mean this to be offensive to ordinary business owners or managers, but sometimes the average business owner or manager, so the people that MSPs serve, you could argue they’re not yet sophisticated enough about technology to self-serve, so essentially to use a platform like this to buy services. What kind of things do you put in place or do you recommend for MSPs to help them help their clients to self-serve, to even know what they should be buying from these platforms?
I mean, look, that makes sense. And typically, I have seen this with customers in the past and the previous organization I work. With inside the managed service providers, it’s almost a cultural shift as well. So not only for your customers but also internally as well in terms of how you servicing your customer. Typically, you may have an account manager, they pick up the phone to you and they say, “Hi, I would like to order X, Y, and Z.” And it’s quite a manual, labor-intensive process from creating quotes to drawing up contracts to having them sign, for example. So what customers typically tend to find is it doesn’t necessarily completely switch over to their clients having to do everything self-serve. But what it does do is it brings in the ease of which you can procure new services for your customers in terms of that automation piece.
Because now, as the market has changed and it’s very much moved away from the traditional huge capital investment right up front, a multi-year contract, for example, where they’re signing everything in day one, it’s all set, it’s all good to go, they pay for three years a yearly in advance, or they pay for a three-year contract, as contracts are changing now and they’re going to as a service if you like, or monthly subscriptions, that’s where the uses and the up and down, it’s ever-changing. So that’s where the real benefit of the platform is because all of that is completely automated. So if a customer’s buying one thing from month to month, it can change and it can move with them. But I think the interesting point there is, even with the technology as a managed service provider, you wouldn’t necessarily on day one expect all of your customers to then go in and start using it as self-service.
It allows that to a point when you get there for your customers, but it allows you to start selling your services as that subscription base, month to month, moving everything to an operational cost and that on demand for the services they’re buying from you.
You make some really interesting points there, which is MSPs are operating, you could argue, at the edge, the cutting edge of technology, and yet they still expect people to pick up the phone and call them and speak to an account manager, which is, that’s the 1972 way of doing things. That’s a really good observation, and actually it ties in to a number of conversations I’ve had recently with big thinkers in the channel about how being a strategic partner, well, is one of the main routes forward for MSPs. So if you look at what the average MSP does today and you say, “Right, let’s jump 10 years, so what’s that? 2033, are we still going to be doing password resets for people on their 365?” And the answer is no. There’s going to be AI to do that or it’s going to be a lot easier to self-serve because that’s the way things are going.
However, those business owners are still going to need strategic, in fact, they’re going to need more strategic advice than ever before. And of course security is likely to be a massive headache for decades to come because it’s a never-ending escalation of weapons on either side. So if you were to put your Mystic Meg hat on and look into your crystal ball, because obviously your world is this as a service, it’s selling things in a more hands-off way, what kind of changes do you see for MSPs over the next, let’s say, 10 years or so?
I think the big thing is I think you’re possibly going to see more organizations trying to turn into an MSP because what’s essentially happening over the last number of years is you’ve gone from them being product-selling to solution-selling, and almost becoming an MSP. So companies are almost, they’re trying to become leaner, they’re trying to reduce costs, and that’s all types of business essentially, and that’s what they’re trying to do. So if anything, over the coming years, I see this automated, subscription as a service market growing and accelerating, I think you only have to look at the way the world’s going already, and this isn’t necessarily B2B, but B2C. You take BMW, for example, they are moving to a subscription-based model within their offerings because now you’re buying a car with everything on it at the start, but you’re paying for your heated seats just for the winter months, for example. And you can turn that on and you can turn that off.
Similarly, with things like Peloton almost, for example, you’re paying for your fitness goals now as a subscription, and if it’s not meeting them needs, then you are going to switch that off as well. So if anything, I do see that accelerating, and organizations having to be able to adapt to that to be able to capture the margin if you like. So selling bundled solutions, so as the consumer demands a one-stop shop, if you like, for all of their services, certainly from an IT perspective, or across the business, it’s not only IT, but as a demand for these services grows from that, again, I’m mentioning again, but that subscription-based, or as a service, as the whole world takes this up, that’s where I see the market going. Definitely certainly accelerating there.
You’re right. When [inaudible 00:27:02] car manufacturers like BMW, great cars, but it’s hardly a dynamic organization, when they jump in and start figuring out, “Hang on a second, we could charge people more money, we could charge them a subscription fee to turn things on. That’s there hardware wise, it’s in the car, I just need to pay to switch it on.” And I think, as consumers, we’re getting used to that and there is a general acceptance of it. I know people grumble a bit about it, but there is a general acceptance. I think you’re right, B2B wise, that’s definitely where we’re going. Okay, Mark, thank you very much. I think you’re one of those guests we need to get back on the show every year just to see how things are changing and track and look at the future trends. You’ve been a great guest today, thank you so much. Just briefly tell us again about CloudBlue, and how can people get in touch with you?
So www.cloud blue.com. But also you can reach out to email@example.com if you were interested. But happy for people to reach out to me direct, so firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast. This week’s recommended book.
Hi, my name is Mark Copeman. I’m the author of MSP Secrets Revealed and Helpdesk Habits. And the book I’d like to recommend is this one here. It’s called The Power of Moments. It’s by Chip and Dan Heath. Properly inspiring. It’s all about creating extraordinary moments for your customers. There’s a particularly good example on there, which I’ve spoken about around the world, about the Magic Castle Hotel and how they’ve done so well despite being a very, very average-looking motel. There’s a lot of brilliant stories in there and it can be absolutely applied to your MSP business.
Coming up next week.
Hello, my name is Tony [inaudible 00:29:11] and I’m an MSP, and I won. I get to have a one-on-one Marketing Edge consult with Paul Green.
And Tony has indeed won. For our Easter special next week, we are going to deep-dive into Tony’s business, look at how he generates clients, and we’re going to put together a brand new marketing strategy for him. I will do this in a way which will be relevant to you as well. It’s a marketing strategy deep-dive, a one-on-one with an MSP owner, and it’s here on next week’s show. If you need something to do in between now and then as you are taking some time off for Easter, we’ve got content every day onto our YouTube channel. Just go to youtube.com/mspmarketing. Join me next Tuesday, and have a very profitable week in your MSP.
Made in the UK, for MSPs around the world, Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.