As a former small business owner, I remember the struggle all too well – whatever I put into my marketing budget often came right out of my grocery budget. I wasn’t a managed service provider, but I did face the same challenges of trying to grow my business on a budget that was more of a thread than a shoestring.
The good news for MSPs is that you don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune to start making one. Here are some ideas you can implement immediately – and for free – that will help bring attention to your company and bring more business through your doors.
1. Data is gold, so report it. What types of information do you deal with regularly? If you’re in the security space, maybe it’s threat data – an innovative social engineering scheme or some particularly nasty malware. That type of insight is valuable to your customers and potential customers. Put it together in a monthly or quarterly report and issue it on your blog or social media. Or announce it in a news release if it’s significant to a larger audience. You might be surprised at how much attention it gets and from whom. Journalists appreciate firsthand research and it could help you become a trusted (and quoted) source.
2. Your opinion is valid, so share it. Why do your customers do business with you and not someone else? Unless they’re all relatives or you have incriminating photos, odds are you know what you’re doing. Even if you don’t have reams of data at your disposal, you can still turn your knowledge into publicity by offering a guest column to your local news site or contributed content to an industry pub. You don’t need to be a world-renowned expert to weigh in on an issue or event. As long as you stick with what you know, your opinion is as valid or more so than anyone else’s.
3. A picture is worth a thousand words, so create it. Remember all those tricks of the trade that you’ve learned over the years? Simple things that save you lots of time? How many of those things might be useful as chart or poster for your customers? Spending a little time diagramming a workflow or creating process guide could pay off bigtime if it’s shared (bearing your logo and contact info, of course.) You don’t have to give away the secret sauce but sharing some of what you know can endear you to your customers and users and get your company name in front of many others.
4. Time is money, so save it. When are you going to find time to do this stuff, right? And what about those of you who would rather chew tinfoil than try to write articles or create graphics? One answer is video. So what if you don’t have Brad Pitt looks or Ellen DeGeneres wit, what you do have most likely is a smartphone camera and YouTube. If you also have good information to share, people will find it and use it. Even if your looks could make a freight train take a dirt road, potential customers value useful content more than a pretty face and high-end production.
5. Good karma is real, so spread it. Do you have a few million bucks lying around? No? Me either. But that doesn’t mean we can’t use our talents to help people or organizations who need it. Lots of folks are intimidated by technology. It may be that volunteering a little bit of your time can save some worthwhile group tons of money that can be put toward a good cause. And remember that many of them also have board members who are decision-makers at for-profit companies that might just need your services. It may seem shallow to do good works in hopes of getting paid work, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable to the recipient. And if you rely on word of mouth, trust me when I say that the volunteer organizations I’ve worked with are very happy to repay your kindness in the form of recommendations.
At AppRiver, our channel partners in the MSP space work very hard to be trusted advisors to their customers. The bottom line here is that sharing yourself and your knowledge is a way to make that trust scalable – and to turn it into more customers and more revenue for your business. The best part: You don’t need to blow your marketing budget (or the grocery money) in the process.