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 Your views on the value (or otherwise) of SLAs
05:22 Avoid FUD when marketing cyber security
13:08 The impact of AI on marketing
Thank you to Scott Bywater, Direct Response Copywriter, for joining me to talk about how to use AI effectively in your emails and marketing.
Scott Bywater is one of the most sought after marketing copywriters in Australia, who runs what many regard as the highest level private marketing group in Australia, Elite Marketers.
He is the creator of the online ‘Simple Email ROI System’ course and over the past 21 years has written for gurus and leading companies including Kerwin Rae, Jay Conrad Levinson (of ‘Guerilla Marketing’ fame), Mercola.com and The Learning Annex.
He’s an in-demand speaker who has presented at James Schramko’s SuperFast Business, Dale Beaumont and Ben Simkin’s masterminds – and is on a mission to help coaches, consultants and course creators leverage their most undervalued asset (their email list) without being pushy or salesy.
Connect with Scott on LinkedIn:
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Fresh every Tuesday for MSPs around the world. This is Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.
Greetings and welcome to Episode 189 of the show. Here’s what we got coming up for you this week.
Hi, I’m Scott Bywater and I’m going to be talking about how to use AI in your copywriting, in your marketing, and particularly in your email marketing.
And on top of that interview with Scott later on in the show, we’ll also be talking about the use of FUD in marketing cybersecurity. FUD of course stands for fear, uncertainty and doubt, and I don’t think you should be using it at all.
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.
I run this Facebook group called MSP Marketing and we’ve got roundabout 2000 MSPs in there. It’s free to join and it’s a great place to just talk about growing your business. One of the things that I like to do sometimes is just chuck in kind of hand grenades, discussions, things that are slightly controversial to see what MSPs think. And here’s something that had 32 different comments. I asked this question just a few weeks ago. SLAs, as in service level agreements, are they a valuable marketing tool or a weapon you hand to your client to beat you with?
Now, I must give you my opinion on SLAs to start with. I don’t think you should be using them. I don’t see them as a valuable marketing tool, and I do appreciate there is a thin sort of sub-sector of people who want SLAs, and I’m guessing that’s going to be more regulated industries, maybe more medical, governmental, those kind of bigger businesses, maybe enterprise business level if you support any of those. But for your average business owner or manager, and let’s be honest, this podcast and the vast majority of the work that I do with MSPs, it’s all about winning over ordinary business owners and managers. We don’t really concentrate on that corporate market. Regulated, yeah, we do because that’s a nice profitable thing, but I’m not a big fan of SLAs at all.
I think that when you run your business well, then you can exceed what you would give as an SLA anyway just by the… You’d want to because that’s how you get pride in the job, right? You do a great job and your clients notice it and they stay with you for 100 years as a result. I think the problem with having an SLA is when you have that once a month moment where you are going to breach it because three major things have happened at the same time to three different clients. And I know this does happen now and again, I know you have days where nothing happens and even the other days where everything goes wrong for everyone, and that’s the point I think SLAs can become a weapon.
So I’m going to read you some of the comments from this hand grenade that I lobbed into the MSP group. John says, “An essential part of business,” he means SLAs, “if you don’t have them, don’t complain when you lose clients.” To which I asked him then, “What do you find the average new client asks for them, John?” And John jumped straight in with, “Yes, approximately 20% of the leads I see a company’s tired of a slow responding existing IT partner. We have stats to prove response rates,” which is interesting.
Then Luca then says, “We have just a response time. So a client raises a ticket, we respond in 15 minutes. Doesn’t mean we fix it in 15 minutes, but we respond in 15 minutes.” Clever. And he’s using a ConnectWise stack for that. So Luca essentially has an SLA that’s based on response. We acknowledge your problem within 15 minutes. That’s actually a smart way of doing that.
Then we’ve got Riley who says, “I’ve never been asked for an SLA, I’ve never marketed it, but if I did, I’m worried they’d be constantly trying to get their money back, which I have seen. SLAs create conflict and are not necessary. Keep them internal, not external.” I love that. That’s absolutely fantastic.
Steve then says, “It depends on your ambitions for size of contract,” as we mentioned at the beginning. If you’re dealing with CIOs, chief information officers, 500 plus users, they will ask for it since it’ll be part of the procurement stack. In truth, I would take the trade-off between a bit of reporting and SLAs, dealing with a professional IT team and not having them because I’m dealing with a small business any time. Really interesting.
Then we’ve got Mark who says, “We have them internally, but we never advertise it. Clients hardly ever ask about them, but when they do, we tell them what they are.” Andy’s never been asked about SLAs in 13 years. Adam says he’d be happy to put in an SLA if they paid two or three times more per user. James says he thinks SLAs are a powerful service management tool to help you manage your service desk. That’s interesting. So you use the SLA to force you internally to be better. They help to surface the tickets that need priority in a busy ticketing system. It’s hard to see where the priorities are without them. Quintin says, “They’re a quality of doing business with us, but we don’t lead conversations with it, nor market, nor advertise them. We prefer to discuss prospect’s pain points and how we’re going to help the clients to remain productive.”
So what do you think about SLAs? Do you know? You can drop me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org or if you’re a member of that MSP Marketing Facebook group, and if you’re not, just go and join, just go and search for it in Facebook, then why not join that discussion there? And there are many other discussions like it as well.
Here’s this week’s clever idea.
Cybersecurity is such a massive part of your world, and let’s be honest, it should be a massive part of the world of all the people that you’re protecting, all those business owners and managers out there and yet they don’t get it as much as you do, do they? I mean, you’re talking to these people on a day-to-day basis. I’m sure there is not a day that goes by where you’re not terrified at how little emphasis they are putting on cybersecurity. And I think the temptation at those times is to use FUD to educate them, to motivate them to buy more cybersecurity.
What is FUD? It’s an acronym for fear, uncertainty, and doubt. And I truly believe that FUD is completely the wrong way to try and sell cybersecurity because the ordinary business owners and managers that you talk to, they don’t understand cybersecurity. That’s why they don’t place an importance on it because they don’t understand it. They don’t see how it’s relevant to them. They don’t believe that they are a target. They think that it’s still 22 year old or 12 year old hackers hacking away on their own, just targeting big companies, liking war games. I’m sure there are many of them that still think that way. I’m sure there are some that don’t, but I’m sure there are many that are. They don’t understand that it’s automated attacks that are looking for opportunities in every business all the time, that it’s just relentless, that it never stops, that it’s getting worse and worse and worse. They don’t understand why cybersecurity should be literally 1000 times higher up in their list of things that are important.
So I don’t believe that scaring them works. I think it’s very… I’m kind of conflicted about this because I know that scaring them doesn’t work. But at the same time, I know that bad news gets more of our attention. It’s why the media, the traditional media, your newspapers, your radio, your TV is full of bad news. I’m a former journalist myself. I made my living for 13 years at the start of my career as a journalist creating bad news. And the reason we did it was because we saw that the listening figures went up, we sold more newspapers when we put bad news. I remember distinct, this was a split test in like the early ’90s before people did split tests, my newspaper editor, one week he had a headline that was a very negative headline, and the following week he had a follow-up on the same story with a very positive headline, and we sold fewer copies with the positive headline.
Our brain is constantly looking for threats because we still have this very primitive cave dwelling brain from 5,000 years ago, and it’s constantly looking out for threats to us. And that’s what it perceives bad news to be. It perceives bad news to be a threat to you. That’s why bad news gets more of your attention than good news does. It’s why bad news seems to get more eyeballs. But just because this is the case, I really don’t believe, it doesn’t mean that we should be using bad news. We shouldn’t be using scare tactics, fear, uncertainty, doubt to educate these ordinary people about cybersecurity. I think a better approach is to educate people. And the way to educate them is to tell stories to them. Because just as there’s a part of our brain that’s looking out for bad things that could happen to us, there’s another part of our brain that responds very, very well to stories.
You see, if we go back again, 5,000 years to when we were cave dwellers, not only were we looking out for things that could kill us, we were passing information down from generation to generation in the wrapper of a story. So even today, we love stories, don’t we? We go to the movies because we love a story. We read a book because we love a story. Everyone loves a story. And it’s our brain actually, well, if you put someone in a functioning MEI, which is kind of like a live view of what’s happening in the brain, and when you tell someone some facts, “Here are some interesting facts,” there’s about sort of two areas of the brain light up. You take the same content, those interesting facts, and you wrap them up in a big story and it becomes warm and lovely, and so many more parts of the brain light up because we are really into stories.
So here is the opportunity for you with your cybersecurity. We have a service called the MSP Marketing Edge. We only work with one MSP per area. One of the things that we give them, I mean, we give them dozens, well, hundreds of tools to get new clients and grow their business. And one of those tools is a story-driven approach to cybersecurity. It’s a book called Email Hijack. And our members, they can take that book and put their name on the cover, they can customize it, they can print it off, and they can be the author of their own book on cybersecurity. And it’s targeted at ordinary business owners and managers.
Here’s the interesting thing, it’s not a book of facts or scare stories. We have created a fictional story of a business owner who goes on vacation and while they’re away, their email is compromised, the payment details are changed on a PDF invoice. You’ve seen this, I’ve seen this, we’ve all seen this, and they end up paying, I think it’s about $10,000 to the wrong supplier. So in total, it costs them $20,000 because they paid 10,000 to the cyber criminals and, of course, they still have to pay their original supplier. There’s a whole fictional story about how that goes down. It uses tactics that you would recognize every single day, but ordinary business owners and managers don’t.
Now, that book, Email Hijack, which as I say, it’s only available to our MSP Marketing Edge members, it’s a way, it’s an attempt to make cybersecurity relevant to ordinary people through a story, educating them with a story. And certainly many of the MSPs I work with that have used it have found that even if people just flick through it, it starts a conversation about cybersecurity. And isn’t that the goal? We just want to get people, business owners and managers talking about their cybersecurity so that then you can best advise them. That’s the goal here. They don’t really need to understand it. All they need to do is believe that they can trust you to protect them from themselves.
So try that. Try an educational approach. You could write a book, you could write blog articles, you could write a piece of fiction. It doesn’t really matter what you do, but if you can tell stories about cybersecurity and educate ordinary people that way you are dramatically more likely to get them engaged with it and ultimately buying you to help them be protected from it.
Paul’s blatant plug.
I have a number of different ways that I work with MSPs to help them generate new revenue streams and ultimately to win new clients. I just mentioned my MSP Marketing Edge service, but if you wanted to dip your toe in, this is a good place to start. So it’s a printed newsletter. It’s called the MSP Marketing Action Monthly. And we ship this out. We post this around the world to MSPs all over the world, every single month, 16 pages, packed with actions, things that you can do to improve your marketing. I made it very easy for you to try one out. You can start a free trial, and if you do, go on to be a subscriber, and thank you if you are, or if you do try it, it’s cancel anytime. There’s no contract or anything like that. Go and have a look at all the details at paulgreensmspmarketing.com/action.
The big interview.
Hi, I’m Scott Bywater and I’m a direct response copywriter who helps MSPs generate more leads.
And thank you so much for joining me on the show, Scott. As we can hear, you are based in Australia, and I do love interviewing Australians because it means I’ve had to stay up very late and you’ve had to get up very early, but it’s worth it because we have a lot to talk about today about marketing and particularly email marketing in the age of AI. We all know that the AI tools have exploded over the last couple of years and no more than in the last six months or so, everyone seems to be talking about them. How does that directly affect our marketing and particularly email marketing? Scott, let’s start with a bit of a biog from you. So tell us briefly about your career and your history. What have you done with your working time so far?
I started off way back when I was about 17 in hardcore selling, and eventually when I hit about 24, 25, I made that transition to actual copywriting because copywriting is basically salesmanship in print, and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 19 years or so. And I’ve worked with some of the biggest players all over the world and biggest marketers. And yeah, that’s what I do today.
That’s so cool. And you’re absolutely right. Salesmanship in print is such a great way to describe copywriting. So over the last 20 years, what have you seen change? Because we’re talking there about almost the maturity of technology. If you think back to 20 years ago, Google, it wasn’t the first place you went to find information. Your mind was kind of elsewhere, and then there was that Google thing, wasn’t there, and we were just starting to do that. But our relationship with email was different, our relationship with the internet was different. We didn’t have smartphones. So as that’s changed over the last 20 years, how have you seen that change the type of copy content that you’ve had to write?
Yeah, I mean it’s been massive, Paul. If we look at, when I started out, I was writing page three ads in the Sunday newspapers that companies were paying $20,000 or something to run. I had clients who would obsess over the Yellow Pages ads for months to get them just right. Obviously, I mean, Dan Kennedy who’s a famous marketer has this saying, “Everything old is new again.” So things have changed, but human psychology hasn’t.
So for instance, trust is the number one, but now what people are doing is rather than meeting with three salespeople to decide who they’re going to choose, they’ll do that research online to generate the trust. So having lots of content out there to build trust is really critical. Likewise, the way people are searching is different. So that client who obsessed over his Yellow Pages ads several years ago, he was in a home services business, but he created 500 different landing pages for individual suburbs within Sydney.
So it’s got a lot more granular in that way. And it’s even the playing field, meaning if you’re good at what you do, it’s not like years ago where you place an ad in the Yellow Pages, then no one could get in. Now everyone can get in, but it is harder to have the skills to do it. And one of the advantages to MSPs is you’re naturally technical. And I think that’s a real advantage with marketing today.
Yeah, I completely agree. What’s really interesting is you talk about trust there. And in fact, you and I met after you listened to Marcus Sheridan, the author of They Ask You Answer, who was on our show right at the beginning of this year talking about content marketing and building trust and relationships with people through content. So if we were to look forward now the next 20 years, which I don’t know about you, that’s going to see me to the end of my career because I’ll be approaching my 70s by then. That’s just aged me. Scott, I’m sure you’re nowhere near that kind of age.
No, I’ll be in my 60s by then.
I’m so jealous. I’m so jealous. But we know obviously about the AI tools. We know that ChatGPT is good, if not great. We know that there’s a tool called Jasper, which is based on similar technology, which a lot of people use to generate content. Now that has completely changed the game quite quickly because those tools have gone from being okay to being actually really very good in a very short space of time. Get your crystal ball out, Scott, have a look at the next 5, 10, 20 years. How do you think those AI tools are going to change the way that we do our marketing?
Yeah, it’s going to be an interesting exercise. I think the big advantage, I mean, the big edge that any marketer, anyone can have in marketing is that critical thinking ability and that strategic thinking ability, because I think that’s the thing that can’t be replicated. But what I’m seeing with AI in terms of at the moment is it’s an incredibly powerful tool. But having said that, it’s like anything, if I started to drive a crane today and I’ve never driven a crane in my life, I could cause a lot of damage. But if I’m trained in it, I can do some incredible things. Same with any power tool. So I think the way we need to look at AI is it’s a bit like a power tool.
In terms of where it will go in 20 years, I mean, AI, it’s only going to get better. It’s not going to get worse. So I think it’s really critical that we stay on top of it. And at the moment I look at it, it’s almost like having this, like what AI does really well currently, from a copy perspective, it’s an incredible brainstormer. If you want to come up with 50 ideas on email topics, if you program it correctly, it will give you that information back. The same with writing emails. If you don’t know how to program it, it’s just going to come up with generic nonsense most likely. But if you know how to program it, it can really give you what you’re looking for and then you bring the human touch in to personalize it.
And I think that’s going to be one of the critical things, Paul, because like anything, when something becomes where everyone can use it, so if everyone’s just going out there and doing the AI with the copy, well, how do you differentiate yourself? You’ve still got to find ways with whatever you’re doing to differentiate yourself and to differentiate your company. And that’s all about knowing how to use the AI is really, really critical.
It’s fascinating. I was reading something in The Tech Tribe the other day, which I’m a very happy member of, and I think it was Nigel Moore himself who’s the founder of The Tech Tribe, was saying he can see a point no more than four, five years away, maybe even less than that, where the AI tools are so good that you could decide, right, I want to dominate YouTube on the subject of cheese. I’m inventing cheese. That wasn’t Nigel’s word. And you could can get an AI text generator to write 5,000 YouTube scripts about cheeses, and without you knowing anything about cheese, it’ll do that for you. Some of them won’t be right, but they will still write about cheeses. And then of course there are tools that will generate videos for you. You could feed those 5,000 scripts into the tool and suddenly you’ve got 5,000 videos on cheese.
Now we could guess that maybe YouTube will have algorithms looking out for this kind of thing, but anytime there’s a way of cheating, people find a way of getting through. I mean my own personal feeling on that is, that’s kind of exciting because if everyone’s outputting 5,000 videos or 5,000 pieces of content about how to pick an MSP or which is the best cheese, then someone somewhere is going to create a new opportunity to differentiate, as you say. And as a marketer myself, it doesn’t scare me because I think what it does is it challenges us. We’ve got to get better and adapt and change and find the different ways.
And I’m sure you’ve seen this, well, tell me if you agree with this or not. Over your career, as the technology in your career has changed from writing a Yellow Pages advert to writing emails, to writing web copy, which we’ll come and talk about emails in a second, but 20 years ago there were people that were maxing out their yellow pages. They were spending weeks and weeks in designing it and applying all sorts of principles and maybe even doing testing. And then everyone else was just doing whatever they could think of. And you could certainly see, it’s exactly the same now, you have people ultra maxing out their websites and testing every element and making every single thing work, and then a whole bulk of people just throwing it out. Do you think it’s going to be the same with those kind of AI tools in the future?
Yeah, and I think the big question is how do you differentiate yourself? And that’s really what it boils down to. And how do you use the tools? And I think where MSPs have a real advantage is you’re naturally technical. So right now we could hand 10 people, let’s say, the same building tools. So you could hand me a set of building tools that you could use to build a house. We’d hand you a set of building tools that you could use to build a house. And we would hand a professional builder, a set of building tools that he could use to build a house. And it’s pretty obvious who’s going to build the best house.
So the tools is not what actually makes the house, it’s the ability to apply the tools, which is a really, really critical thing. And I think it’s going to be the same with AI because AI is, from a copy perspective, I know there’s a lot of different types of AI, but when it comes to copy, it is an incredibly powerful tool. If you hand me a chainsaw, I might cut my hand off with it. Do you know what I mean? Whereas someone else will chop up three trees worth of wood sort of thing.
Yeah, doesn’t bear thinking about. It really doesn’t. Okay, just for the final question, we’re going to completely change subject, and we’re going to talk about one of your specialties, which is email marketing. I love email marketing. It distresses me that it’s getting harder and harder to get people’s email addresses, to get them to opt into your database. But I still do two emails a week because literally every time I send out a broadcast email to my, I think I’ve only got about 4,000 on my list because we’ve really cleaned the list. Every time I send an email, we get a new member, we get someone joining the MSP Marketing Edge, or someone subscribing to my MSP Marketing Action Monthly, at least twice a week, and that’s just one channel twice a week, we make money by sending out good educational, entertaining, edutainment emails. Now I know you have a very good spin on the kind of email content that MSPs can be using. Tell us a little bit about that.
Yeah, so the real key, I mean emails is probably the most underrated tool out there. The social’s really sexy, you put stuff on there, you get likes, all of that sort of thing. Litmus.com did a study and they found that there’s a 36 to one ROI for every dollar spent on email marketing, yet most people aren’t leveraging it. So that’s where it’s so valuable. And what I would be doing as an MSP with an email list, the first thing that I would do is I would go out to my email list and I’d say, “Listen, what are the number one challenges that you’re struggling with right now regarding your IT?” And another question I’d ask is, “If you could ask me any two questions, what would they be?”
And then what you do is you get all of those responses back, and then within your email you start replying to them. And you can use the AI to really help you structure and create those emails. And what I would also recommend doing is talking like you write. So you’re putting very much of yourself in there. Because often, Paul, people think, you might be sitting there as an MSP and going, “My business is so boring. Who wants to know about what I’ve got to talk about?” Because you do it all day every day. But I can guarantee you if someone has taken the effort to join your list or they’ve got an interest in your service, they want to know that because that’s why you’re getting asked those questions all day every day, and they will be interested in what you’ve got to share.
Yeah, I love it. And when we first spoke, you were talking about the concept of writing emails like film scripts, so where you actually end the email on a cliffhanger, which makes them kind of more interested in opening your next email. Is that still something you use now?
Yeah, so a cliffhanger’s incredibly powerful, and what this is is you want to make your emails a bit story-like, a bit interesting. People don’t want a boring, bland email. So you can start to tell stories and they can come from your life. If you think of what you did yesterday, there’s probably an interesting story. I talked to a client, he asked me this question, then I had a coffee and then I did this, and you tell it. But then at the end of that story, what you can do, so you give some valuable content and then you could even do an open loop to, let’s say, another piece of content you’ve got, or you could end on a cliffhanger and go, “Listen, stay tuned for tomorrow, because tomorrow I’m going to be sharing something about my discussion with Peter, and this is a real eyeopener because you’re also going to find out about the big green frog that was in the meeting and what I learned from it,” or something like that.
So it’s like, it grabs their interest because you want to apply the same philosophy that the TV morning shows and every TV show really ends on. It’s like, “Come back after the break and you’ll find out how Sam learned to do double somersaults in two seconds with a coffee in his hand. You’ve got to stay till after the break to find out how Sam did it.” That’s a very similar philosophy, which you want to apply to your marketing. Again, everything old is new again. We’re applying the same principles with email as has been done with the TV media for decades.
You just sound old and cynical now, Scott. Tell us what you do to help MSP owners. What kind of services do you offer people and what’s the best way for us to get in touch with you?
So there’s a couple of ways I can help. Number one is you go to my website, it’s my copywriting website, copywritingthatsells.com.au and www.simpleemailroi.com if you want to learn about the AI email copywriting, or you can just shoot me an email. Shoot an email to email@example.com.
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast. This week’s recommended book.
Hi, I’m Brian Davidson. I’m the owner of Matchnode, a digital marketing agency, and my book recommendation is Power Failure: The Rise and Fall of an American Icon. It’s about the rise and fall of GE starting back in the days of Thomas Edison up until it being the world’s most valuable company under Jack Welch and now to its current state of being broken up. A fascinating read about the changes in business and America over that time.
Coming up next week.
Hey, my name is Dana Mantilia and I work with MSPs to help them take technical messaging and translate it into messages that your nontechnical audience and hopefully future prospects will be able to understand and put to good use.
This podcast platform that you’re listening on right now, or if you’re watching on YouTube, you have subscribed, right? Please do subscribe and allow the notifications, and then every single Tuesday when a brand new episode comes out, bing, something comes up on your phone so you never miss an episode. On top of that interview in next week’s show, we’re going to be talking about four-day working weeks. Is it practical or even desirable for you and your team to only work four days a week? We’ll explore that next week. We’ve also got a ton of content at 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.