What a yellow submarine taught me about MSP marketing

Paul Green Uncategorized

This time last week, I was underwater in a submarine.

Yes, really. Nothing to do with North Korea. More pleasant than that.

I was on holiday with my wife and daughter in Lanzarote. A wonderful 10 days in a villa, with a private pool and the new GoPro Hero 5 to play with.

Here’s my daughter Matilda doing her 258th underwater dive of the day.

Paul Green on holiday with his family

One hot day, we did a Submarine Safari. It’s not some kind of touristy thing where the boat has a glass bottom.

This is a real £3 million yellow submarine that goes down to a depth of 30 metres.

Submarine Safari | Paul Green's MSP Marketing

(This image from Submarine Safari)

It was great fun. And I made some notes afterwards, as I thought there were some valuable lessons that apply to MSPs (you never know when inspiration for your business will strike).

Lesson 1: Unleash your marketing to be everywhere

I’m not sure how many people go on this submarine every year. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it was thousands. Because this submarine felt like the most highly marketed tourist attraction on the whole island.

Everywhere we looked, we saw adverts for it. It was on the side of buses, on menus, in every rack of leaflets. My daughter was the one who spotted it first. She saw a celebrity testimonial from “Ron Weasley” (actor Rupert Grint) and convinced us to look it up online.

There was an offer for 15% off if we booked online. So we just did it.

I can understand the need for the heavy marketing. It must be a pretty expensive operation they’ve got.

Not only do they have the submarine with 2 pilots and safety staff, but there’s a safety boat that goes out with it; two divers who entertain you through the windows at the bottom of the sea; a big booking and safety briefing office; and a bus that picks up guests staying in hotels all over the island.

With a cost base like that, you probably need thousands of visitors each year just to break even. The only way to achieve that is with lots of marketing.

Here’s the thing though. It’s probably more or less as much management time for the owner to run that place for 1,000 customers, as it is 10,000 customers.

Same in your business. Sure, you need more staff and resources if you have 10x the clients. But get the scalability right, and the rewards are much higher, for only a little extra work.

You only have one life. And probably just one big business that you will dedicate the best years of your life to.

Don’t you owe it to yourself to ramp up your marketing, to get more new clients and ultimately grow your net profitability, so you can have a better lifestyle (the answer is yes – it’s the primary subject of my free MSP marketing seminar in central London on 16th May 2017).

Lesson 2: Not everyone buys on price

I can’t remember how much the submarine cost for two adults and a child. But I remember thinking it was the most expensive hour we spent on the island!

I didn’t begrudge a penny, as it was a unique experience I’d never seen before. Which reminded me – not everyone buys on price alone.

Sure, some people do. And they tend to be the highest hassle, lowest profitability clients. Avoid them like the plague.

You want the clients where price is A factor, not THE factor. Where they’re picking you because you’re the right support partner for them; and the monthly fee you charge for that is just the price of access. Those people stay longer and respect you more.

Lesson 3: Some people will buy more if you offer it

On the drive back from the Marina where the submarine was based, we had a family discussion about how we’d have liked a longer trip, and what else the submarine people could have sold to us (I’m starting my six-year-old’s marketing training early!)

Instead of just an hour floating in the bay, what about a longer trip out to sea? What about the chance to meet the pilots? A 3 course champagne meal on a submarine? What about a pretend James Bond scenario battling the evil baddie divers outside? (that was my idea).

When you get the right kind of clients – who don’t buy on price alone – some of them will always want more from you. The best way to get a steer on this is to ask the golden question: “What else can we help you with?”.

Many of the suggestions will be outside your power. But you never know when your happy clients will give you a brilliant new revenue stream, on a plate.

Lesson 4: When you do have more to sell, take your clients hands and lead them to it

The reason my family was talking about upsells, was because the submarine staff had taken our photo going onto the submarine… but there was no attempt to sell the photo to us at the end!

Maybe they assumed we would walk from the submarine back to the booking office (a 5 minute walk). Maybe they told all the passengers to do this, but we forgot their instructions. Who knows. Who cares!

Really, they should have had the photos ready to show us on the dockside as soon as we got off the sub. As a family we don’t tend to buy photos on rides. But if they’d had a unique yellow submarine photo frame, we’d have probably gone for it.

Bang, another £20 revenue, and probably £15 profit.

Just because you offer an extra service or option, doesn’t mean your clients know about it.

You must always assume they don’t know. Show them everything that’s on offer. It’s not high pressure; it’s just telling people what’s available.

Some will buy, some won’t. And that’s fine.

Lesson 5: Don’t be samey

The main reason we went for the submarine was because we’d never been on one before.

As a family unit we take loads of holidays. Yes, you can get a little bored of the beach 🙁

So we tend to jump on every experience, for fun. Camel ride? Done it before, but we’ll do it again. Up a volcano? Yep, done that, but go on we’ll try it again.

What’s that, you say… A SUBMARINE??? Let’s go!

Samey is boring and kills sales. In the spirit of “one life, do the most you can within it”, you should be doing everything in your power to make your IT support company unique. And memorable.

What’s the submarine equivalent for you? The thing that makes you stand out from all the others?

There are plenty of tourist things on Lanzarote. But only one submarine. There are plenty of IT support companies in your town. But only one YOU. Take that individuality and use it 100x more than you’re using it now.

Lesson 6: Never assume your clients know what’s going on

There were two entry hatches on the submarine. As it set off sailing on the surface of the water, the rear hatch – right next to where we were sitting – was still open.

My daughter couldn’t take her eyes off it. “Daddy,” she whispered, “they’ve left the door open. We’re going to drown!”

While I was fairly certain there would be a warning light on in the cockpit, she made me a bit nervous…! Of course, once the second pilot came on board, they sealed the hatch and we dived.

That was probably normal procedure. The staff know that, as they do it 10 times every day.

But the clients don’t. They do it once. What was routine to them, was scary to a child.

So you must never assume that your clients know what you know. Tell them what you’re doing and why. Reassure them about what’s routine.

I read a lovely phrase in a marketing book one – “to influence what John Brown buys, you’ve got to look through John Brown’s eyes”.