Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Episode 1: Free marketing money for MSPs
In this week’s episode
- There’s a fine line between successful and poor performing MSPs and IT support companies. Paul offers some great insight into the mindset required to make your business fly.
- Paul tells you about a fantastic tool to help increase your LinkedIn connections and how the platform can really help you as part of your ‘Connect, Content & Call’ strategy.
- If you have little time for creating marketing content, Paul explains how this can be done for you.
- Did you know there’s a whole load of free money to help with your marketing going unused? It’s called MDF and special guest Glenn Robertson explains how to apply for it.
- There’s a brilliant question from the audience about the time it takes for MSPs to win new work.
- Out every Tuesday on your favourite podcast platform.
- Presented by Paul Green, an MSP marketing expert.
- Find out about the Dux-Soup plugin here.
- Visit the website mentioned for MSP Marketing Edge at mspmarketingedge.com
- The brilliant interview about unspent MDF (Marketing Development Fund) was with Glenn Robertson, MD and owner of Purechannels.
- Thanks to Anthony Thackray from AGT Computer Services for the question about the time it takes to get new clients.
- Future guests mentioned include Andy Edwards of Yoo, who will be explaining how to sell to different types of people.
- The email address for show feedback or any questions is firstname.lastname@example.org
Voiceover: Made in the UK, for MSPs around the world. This is Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.
Paul Green: Hello and welcome to this brand new podcast. Here’s what’s coming up in this week’s show.
Glenn Robertson: Everybody wins because if you’re selling more stuff, you make more money. That means a vendor makes more money, that means they’re going to be happier and the cycle continues.
Paul Green: Plus we’re going to look at an automated tool that will help you to grow your LinkedIn connections. I’m going to address why it takes so long for an MSP to win new clients.
Voiceover: Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.
Paul Green: Hello, this is Paul Green and welcome to the first ever MSP Marketing Podcast. Now my aim every single week is to give you 25, 30 minutes of a boost. I want to give you some motivation, some ideas, some clever stuff that you can take that other MSPs are doing around the world and you can bring it into your business and really make a difference to your business quite quickly and quite dramatically. Stuff that’s going to help you to get more new clients, stuff that is going to help you to grow your monthly recurring revenue and ultimately have an impact on your net profits.
Paul Green: Because when you address those three things, that’s what makes the biggest difference to your life. I’m a big fan of believing that the business is supposed to be there for you and not the other way around. But I’ve met so many MSPs over the years and I found far too many MSP owners who are trapped inside the business. And in fact, they are there for the business rather than the business being there for them. So this is one of my motivations to launch this podcast. I just got so much to say about this. I only work with MSPs, managed service providers and I work with quite a few of them and over the weeks ahead I’ll tell you a little bit about some of the stuff that I do.
Paul Green: Really a lot of it is about mindset. And it’s really interesting just before I sat down to record this podcast, I just nipped to the toilet and one of the other business owners was in there. A guy called Andy and I haven’t seen him for years. He runs a business that does promotional items. I said, “Hello Andy, how are you? I haven’t seen you for a while. How’s business?” And his answer, which I wouldn’t put on a podcast, but it was a four letter word, “It’s rubbish.” And I said, “What’s happened?”
Paul Green: And then he started talking about all the bad things. This contract’s falling through, this person won’t place an order and the phone’s just not ringing. So I immediately flipped into how can I help you mode? And I’m like, “Okay. So what are you doing? What marketing are you doing? Have you rung all of your old clients, have you done this? What campaigns are you doing?” Essentially, him and his team have sat there. The phone hasn’t rung and nothing’s happened and therefore it’s the fault of everyone else in the world that they’re not buying whatever it is that he’s selling, the promotional goods that he’s selling.
Paul Green: Actually, this is a mindset problem, isn’t it? This isn’t a business problem because obviously he’s going to try and blame Brexit, he’s going to try and blame the economies, he’s going to try and blame everything, the clients. The problem is there in the business and it’s the person at the top of the business. The problem is that he’s decided it’s rubbish right now, no one’s buying anything. Therefore, it’s just not worth it. And that’s what I mean by mindset. You see, most MSPs I meet have a really good mindset, but now and again I do meet some you can see why the business isn’t doing so well.
Paul Green: So every single week, I’m going to give you some practical stuff. I’m going to try and help you with some mindset stuff as well and you know what? You are welcome to contribute to this. My email address is email@example.com. As you’ll hear in a minute ahead, I am very happy to have contributions to the show, whether it is guests that you would think I should have on the show or whether it’s a question that you want to send in to be featured on the show. We’ve got so much coming up for you in the weeks ahead.
Voiceover: Here’s this week’s clever idea.
Paul Green: Now I hope that you, like most MSPs are all over LinkedIn right now, because LinkedIn without a doubt is the number one marketing platform for MSPs around the world right now. Microsoft bought it a few years ago and at that point LinkedIn was a reasonably good B2B platform but I always used to call it a bad networking meeting. It was the place you went to be sold to or it was the place that you went to get a job. And Microsoft bought it and they have adapted what they’ve seen on Facebook and created a B2B version of Facebook.
Paul Green: Certainly much more content driven platform than it used to be. For example, if you put a piece of content on LinkedIn and it gets likes, shares or comments, whatever happens to it in the first kind of 60, 90 minutes dictates how many other people see it. They build up a point score for a post. So if someone likes a piece of content you’ve put into LinkedIn, you get one point, comments on it, that’s two points, and if someone shares it’s three points. You can certainly see that the more people share something that’s a bigger commitment, isn’t it? To share something.
Paul Green: Commenting is a bigger commitment than just liking. So the more engagement you get on a post, the more LinkedIn realises, “Hang on a second, other people are going to want to see this.” So the more likely it is to share it. What makes LinkedIn so powerful for MSPs is it’s just possible to reach so many people without a huge amount of effort. I mean, you still need to do a degree of work everyday, but there are tools out there to allow you to automate it. And what I want to talk about today is a tool called Dux-Soup.
Paul Green: That’s D-U-X dash Soup, as in soup that you drink. And what Dux-Soup does, it’s very clever. It’s a plugin that sits in your Chrome, so it sits on your laptop and you give it access to your LinkedIn and you tell it who you want to reach. And what Dux-Soup does is it automates the searching and the connection requests that you would do. So it kind of tries to act like a human. It’ll go off and it’ll visit someone and it’ll attempt a connection request and then it will go onto someone else and attempt some connection request and then it’ll have a little break.
Paul Green: So it tries to replicate human behaviour. I would imagine it’s very hard for LinkedIn to detect you’re using Dux-Soup because it’s a plugin in your own Chrome. Now what we’ve found, and we’ve been doing a lot of trials on LinkedIn lately, a huge amounts of trials, in fact, I’ve grown my own personal profile by a thousand in the last month. It just makes it more efficient for you to reach the people you want to reach. So I just want to be connected to MSPs. Who you want to be connected to, business owners, business managers, either in your geographical area or in your vertical, in your niche.
Paul Green: And so you can tell Dux-Soup to go and find these people and to attempt connections. And you may, for every let’s say 10 connection requests, you might find that one or maybe two people accept that. So everyday you can grow your LinkedIn database, your connections by two or three people, which is just a beautiful thing to do. You can automate the messages you send out, it’s a very efficient way of doing it. And with LinkedIn, you should be spending 30 to 60 minutes a day working on the three Cs, connect, content and call.
Paul Green: So connect is exactly what we’ve been talking about there. Whether you use an automated tool or whether you do it manually or you use a VA in another country to do it for you, a VA being a virtual assistant you could find say on fiverr.com or PeoplePerHour, someone somewhere is connecting, is attempting connections every single day. And then you put content in front of them because LinkedIn now is a content platform. In the weeks ahead I will talk about building up audiences and I’m a big believer in that you should build multiple audiences of people.
Paul Green: This is something for down the line. But your LinkedIn connection, your LinkedIn profile is one of your audiences, so you should be growing that audience as much as you can. So you want to connect to as many people, you want to put content in front of them and ideally on a daily basis, at least five days a week. And then the third thing that you should be doing is you should be calling people. And I am a big fan of when you’ve been connected to someone for 5, 10 weeks or so and particularly if they’ve engaged with your content, someone somewhere in your organisation should just pick up the phone and should just call them and just have a chat with them.
Paul Green: Because what moves relationships forward more than anything is talking to people on the phone. Now you might do some messaging before, you might send them something in the post, there’s a number of different ways of doing it. But when you adopt the connect, content, call strategy, that protocol is a very powerful way of taking LinkedIn and turning it into brand new prospects.
Voiceover: Paul’s blatant plug.
Paul Green: I’m not scared of having a blatant plug every single week as something that I sell, which I think you might benefit from and I will just flag it up so you know what I’m doing. Now I work mostly with MSPs in the UK but I have an international service and it’s called the MSP Marketing Edge. It’s a bunch of content that you get every single month. You can use that content in any way, so there’s a video, there’s a guide, there are eight emails, there’s a whole bunch of social media content, a press release, and we provide these in all the different formats.
Paul Green: So you can use them as they are or you can tweak them, adjust them, put your logo on and use them as they are. And we only sell them to one MSP per area. And that’s deliberate. So the idea is that as an MSP you can focus on doing what you do well, which is technology, which is proactive stuff, it’s keeping clients happy. But you’ve got to do this marketing stuff. So me and my marketing team and what we do best is marketing.
Paul Green: We give you this stuff every month and you can just put it across your channels, on your websites, your social media, your YouTube, etc etc . That’s the plan behind this. So currently we’re in two countries – we’re in the UK, which is our longest established market. We’ve been in the UK for over two years now and we launched into the United States just a couple of months ago. The US content is adapted, so it’s American spellings and of course it’s an American voice on the video. If you’re not in the UK or the US, you are welcome to inquire as to whether you can buy this for your territory. We do have a client in Singapore. We’ve got someone in Australia, a couple in Canada and someone in New Zealand as well. All the details are at mspmarketingedge.com.
Voiceover: The big interview.
Paul Green: My mission every week is to find interesting people with useful stuff to say and to get that information out of their heads and onto this podcast. I’m going to interview loads of people within the MSP world, but I’ve also got plenty of people I know outside as well who’ve got plenty of things to tell us that you can use to grow your business and grow your profits.
Glenn Robertson: I’m Glenn Robertson, MD and now owner of Purechannels. Purechannels has been going since 2005.
Paul Green: It’s a marketing agency that only works with MSPs, resellers and vendors. Now we met at a CRN event in Manchester. In fact, we were both on a panel. It was a marketing panel and we were discussing the concept of MDF. I thought for a second he was talking about medium density fiberboard and of course, Glenn meant something else.
Glenn Robertson: Typically, MDF stands for marketing development fund. And that’s something that is provided to partners, resellers, MSPs by vendors as a way to help the partner to promote the vendors’ wares. Vendors will typically allow an amount of money for qualifying partners and the way that you qualify, it’s potentially determined by what type or what level or what tier of partner you are. Some ways the vendor will actually allocate some budget, but normally the vendor will provide MDF based on something like a rebate or a payback or a certain percentage of previous spend.
Glenn Robertson: And that previous spend can be either recent spend, it can be last 12 months, it can be related to the level of revenue that is generated by the MSP. What happens typically is the MSP will have to apply for a level of funding. Well, hopefully they would have accrued from previous revenue they’ve generated, or they can do on an ad hoc basis whereby they think that there is a suitably beneficial activity that they could carry out.
Glenn Robertson: And it could be attending events, it could be running an email campaign, it could be some dedicated social media activity and they have to put in an application to the vendor in order to apply for this funding. The vendor will assess whether or not this looks like a goer and then decide whether or not to allocate the budget. And then that budget can be allocated in one of the few ways. It can be co-funded, it can be part funded or it can be fully funded.
Paul Green: And the bombshell you dropped at the conference from memory was that you believe there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pounds worth of MDF that just simply don’t go claimed.
Glenn Robertson: Absolutely. Millions, without any question. We had a recent conversation with a vendor that did actually give a figure. They put a figure of £2 million on the value of unspent MDF in the last financial year, which was pretty amazing. And that’s something where the opportunity lies because some MSPs will be getting it right, they’ll be making the most of this funding.
Glenn Robertson: They’ll be doing genuine marketing activity that not only helps promote them and generates leads for them, but it will also be helping promote the vendor. So there’s two sides to this job. It’s the partner having the awareness and the understanding that this firstly exists. And then you’ve got the vendor who needs to communicate the concept well enough to the MSP to tell them that it is available.
Paul Green: And this might seem like a schoolboy question, but do you have to use vendor funding to promote the vendors’ services or products or can it be used for just general marketing so long as you’re selling more of what the vendor is supplying?
Glenn Robertson: Yeah, I mean typically it has to be aligned to the vendor. Let’s give a Microsoft example. Microsoft have a thousand partners around the UK and if one of those partners wants to apply for funding, then typically Microsoft would want it to be aligned to marketing activity that the partner is doing around Microsoft services and solutions. But ultimately, you need to fill out form and you need to have a commitment to the vendor.
Glenn Robertson: If you’re going to be spending their money, you need to show that the money is being spent on activity that is going to help you to sell more of their stuff. And when you do that right, everybody wins. Because if you’re selling more stuff, you make more money. That means the vendor makes more money, that means they’re going to be happier on the side and the cycle continues.
Paul Green: So to get started, you pick up the phone or you drop an email to your rep or whoever you speak to at the vendor and you say, “I want to access your MDF.” How do we get started? Is it really as simple as that?
Glenn Robertson: Yeah. Actually it is. Again, there are a couple of ways. Typically partners will have access to a portal and quite often if the vendor’s portal is good enough, it should have an MDF section on there. Partners should have access to partner account managers or channel account managers and if they are managed then they have that direct data contact, they can just call them up and say, “We’ve got an idea. We want to do some activity next quarter is the MDF available for this? And can I make an application?” This isn’t just about free money. This is about working together with your vendor to do ultimately you want to do as an MSP, too generate leads and sell more stuff. This money is available if you are serious about doing marketing activity that generate leads to do more business.
Paul Green: Okay, thank you Glenn. How does Purechannels get involved to help MSPs with MDF?
Glenn Robertson: We’ve worked with all of the big name brands and vendors that you would expect to see in IT and telecoms. Huge experiences over the last 15 years globally on managing marketing activity for vendors to and through the channel. We get it from the vendor’s side, we understand how they work. And then from a partner’s side, this is essentially about vendor management and executing the activity that has been applied for. So we help MSPs to look at potential funding that’s available.
Glenn Robertson: We can help or have the conversations with the PAMs or CAMs back at the vendor. We can absolutely write the plans that the MSP will need to submit as part of their MDF application, and then we go right the way through to execution and delivery. What that means is that we kind of complete that cycle because not only are we coming up with working with the MSP to understand their business, what their needs are and how they can benefit from this vendor relationship. We can help them with vendor communication and vendor conversations.
Glenn Robertson: We can create a plan and help them with the application in order to secure the funding and then we can deliver and execute on the campaign that is being planned out. And then the final piece to this puzzle and it is something that does get left out believe it or not, this is the tracking the reporting and ultimately the ROI. And that means that for the MSP we make sure that we get results.
Paul Green: Cool. What’s your website’s address then?
Glenn Robertson: Purechannels.co.uk.
Voiceover: Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast… Ask Paul anything.
Anthony: Hi. It’s Anthony from AGT Computer Services. Why does it take so long to get new clients?
Paul Green: And isn’t that the thousand dollar question? Thank you very much for that Anthony. So most MSPs that I meet still have clients from when they started up, even if that was 20 years ago. And most MSPs, they retain their clients incredibly well. You win a client today, they will stay with you for 5, 10, maybe even 15 years. And that awesome retention is at the crux of why it’s so difficult and what takes so long to win a new client. Because we’ve got to look at this not as MSPs, but we’ve got to look at this as the clients look at it. And there’s an immense amount of what’s known as inertia loyalty when someone’s with your MSP.
Paul Green: Now inertia loyalty is where even if we’re ready to switch to someone else, we perceive that the hassle and the difficulty and the risk is so great that actually it’s easier to not take action than it is to take action. So you see this with banks, you see it with the accountants and you certainly see it with MSPs. I’ve been with the same bank, with Lloyds Bank in the UK. I’ve been with them since I was 14 and there’ve been moments when I’ve been ready to leave Lloyds.
Paul Green: And even though there’s a switching guarantee in the UK that guarantees that my switch will be easy and pain free, I still can’t be bothered. My inertial loyalty has kept me with Lloyds for 31 years. It’s what keeps MSPs with you because their perception is you’ve got your fingers across all of their technology, which is all of it, mission critical. You’re the ones who know exactly how their server works, you’ve got the setups, you’ve got the passwords, and frankly you have a better grip on their technology than they do.
Paul Green: So even if they’re dissatisfied with you, they’re probably going to stay with you a little bit longer, which of course gives you time to fix your relationship with them. All MSPs have an unhappy client at some point. Right now, unless you’ve got two clients, you have an unhappy client. And that unhappy client is going to leave you at some point, but it might not be in the next contract renewal. It might be the contract renewal after that because of inertia loyalty. So to answer the question, we kind of flip that round and we say, well, when we’re talking to prospects, particularly when they’re with an incumbent MSP, we’ve got to wait till the right moment.
Paul Green: There’s a key phrase for this, which is people only buy when they’re ready to buy. Now the core trick for you is being in front of that person at the point they’re ready to make the switch to a brand new MSP. And this is one of the subjects that we’re going to be covering off in the weeks ahead, is how do you become that person that’s there at exactly that moment. And the answer lies in building a relationship with those people so they know you before they are ready to buy anything.
Voiceover: How to contribute to the show.
Paul Green: I’d love to know what you thought of this first podcast. Your ideas will help to shape future episodes. So go on, drop me an email. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
Voiceover: Coming up next week.
Andy Edwards: Be brief, be bright and be gone. Recognise these four different personality styles and your sales will go up.
Paul Green: That’s my friend Andy Edwards. He’s an expert at helping you to sell more without having to go on very long sales courses. He’s going to tell you next week how to understand how different people buy. We’re also going to look next week at monthly recurring revenue services. In fact, I’ve got two suggestions for you of services that you really should be selling.
Voiceover: Made in the UK, for MSPs around the world, Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.
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