Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast

Episode 18: Coronavirus special - protect your MSP + actually grow MRR

Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Episode 18: Coronavirus special - protect your MSP + actually grow MRR
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In this week's episode

  • In a change to the advertised programme, Paul introduces a special panel discussing the effect Coronavirus may have on MSPs and their clients
  • In this special episode industry experts Nigel Moore, Glenn Robertson and Andrew Eardley join Paul to highlight how MSPs can protect themselves during this challenging time; the potential benefit to client relationships and why it's important to keep your marketing going right now

Show notes

Episode transcription

Voice over: Made in the UK for MSPs around the world. This is Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast. Paul Green: Hello and welcome to this special edition of the show. Now a change to the advertised programme, we're going to be discussing the business impact of the coronavirus and how MSPs around the world can protect their businesses now and actually use this maybe as an opportunity to grow turnover and net profit. Paul Green: So I pulled together a panel of people that I trust to talk about four things. We're going to talk about the short-term impact, the longer term impacts, the need more than ever before for more and more monthly recurring revenue, and why you must never ever stop marketing, especially at a time like this. Paul Green: Before I introduce my panel, let's just set some context here. So normally this podcast is recorded weeks ahead, but not this special edition. In fact, if you're listening to this on the day of broadcast, we recorded it yesterday, Monday the 16th of March in the morning, UK time. Right now, according to worldometers.info or worldometers.info. There's been 170,000 cases of coronavirus worldwide and 6,500 deaths. Already, 77,000 people have recovered from it. Now, if you look at the number of cases per million of the population, is tiny. So the UK is just 20.5 cases per million people. The USA is just 11.5 cases. Australia is 14.7. Now Italy, obviously, is far more serious. They've got 409 cases per million people. Paul Green: What's clear now is that most of us are going to get the coronavirus at some point. And the vast majority of us, we're going to be absolutely fine. In fact, most of the people I know are more worried about their elderly relatives than they are worried about themselves or their children. The real problem with this virus and what we're going to talk about on the podcast today is the economic impact. Paul Green: So the world's healthcare systems simply couldn't cope if the virus spread at speed if we allowed it to just naturally spread. Most of the shutdowns and the changes that we're all seeing, they're all designed to slow down the spread. And virtually overnight that's had quite a huge impact on the way that people act and the way that people buy. We've all seen stockpiling. We've all seen empty shelves in supermarkets and we all know that toilet paper is the new gold. Paul Green: But already some businesses are suffering. There's a lovely village pub that's near my house, they had 72 table cancellations over the weekend, 72. We went in on Saturday night when it's normally, it's quite difficult to physically get in is so full. And it was so quiet, they only had two bar staff on. There's a guy I know who owns a car crash repair centre. He says his work has just totally dried up in the last couple of weeks. Now I realised these are consumer facing businesses and these are businesses that need to sell stuff every day to stay alive. But maybe they're the kind of clients that you support. Maybe there's an impact on your clients. This is certainly where I'm seeing some of the panic from MSPs, right now. It's not necessarily them, but it's their clients. Paul Green: Certainly when we look at the MSP business model, we have to look at it and say, "It's beautiful." You're mostly B2B hopefully, you've certainly got plenty of monthly recurring revenue or I hope you do. And it's definitely very easy for you and your teams to work remotely. So let me introduce today's panel and we'll start to talk about what's happening right now and where we think this is going to go. I'm going to start by introducing you to a Nigel Moore - Nigel tell us about you and the tech tribe. Nigel Moore: Good day. Nigel here. Based out of just North of Sydney, Australia. I host a community of MSPs all around the world called The Tech Tribe. It's born out of my love of the community. I used to own and run my own MSP for many years. It was acquired in 2016 and I have built the tribe up as a resource for MSPs around the world to help them learn from all the mistakes that I made over the years running my own. Paul Green: Andrew. Andrew Eardley, would you like to introduce yourself? Andrew Eardley: Oh yes. I'm Andrew Eardley from MSP Easy Tools. I also run a MSP called Prompt PC. So MSP Easy Tools was born out of Prompt PC developing cyber security tools for Office 365. Something we'll talk about a bit later, Paul. Paul Green: I'm sure we will. Thank you very much. And Glenn Robertson. Glenn Robertson: Hi, I'm Glenn. I'm MD and owner of Purechannels. We're specialists dedicated channel marketing agency that worked with a number of MSPs worldwide in helping them take their own proposition and joint vendor propositions to market in the most effective way. Paul Green: Brilliant. Thank you all three of you for assembling pretty much at the last minutes and Nigel, we're going to start with you. I'm a member of The Tech Tribe and I was just this morning actually reading your coronavirus threads. You've done a great thread in there, putting it in context and talking about what MSPs can do. What are you seeing MSPs doing to prepare themselves, because we are still at that point where it hasn't really impacted massively on us, but what are people doing to prepare right now? Nigel Moore: At the early stages we're in right now, most MSPs are just scrambling to help their clients with remote access and so they haven't popped their head up to think at the 20,000 foot view, what's coming next? They're getting a ton of requests and a ton of help and a ton of people wanting them to be able to get them access to their businesses from home and at the moment that's where the most MSPs have got their head space. Paul Green: Do you see that most MSPs are ready or are a lot of them just coming around to starting to think about getting ready, but in your mind this has all happened very, very quickly. Nigel Moore: It is a mixed bag. A MSPs are very lucky incredibly because they know what needs to be done technically wise to be able to operate their businesses from home end. And most MSPs that I know of over the last couple of years have transitioned to being remote friendly. The culture in work environments has lended recently towards moving towards a remote culture and most MSPs have adopted that in some way, shape or form. So it's not at the moment seeming to be a tough transition for MSPs to go through to keep their business continuity plans in place or to start enacting their business continuity plans to start working remotely, working from home, working wherever got to so that they can continue supporting clients that are desperately screaming out for help at the moment. Paul Green: Andrew, you own an MSP obviously as well as MSP Easy Tools. So what have you done with your team to make sure that you guys are fully ready to carry on business as usual, even if you have to work from home? Andrew Eardley: To be honest, because we're cloud based anyway and our phone systems are VOIP, they can work from home as of any time. So for us it's so easy. Paul Green: Wouldn't it be lovely for the clients who are like this as well, which is a subject we are going to come onto in a second. Glenn, let's talk about the vendors you work with MSPs and then vendors on the other side of the channel. Is it fair to say that the big vendors are already, because a lot of these, when you think of Microsoft and you think of thousands of people sitting in buildings in California, so how ready do you think they are? Glenn Robertson: Well, the way that we've seen it is that they are ready. I mean we're having meetings canceled and we're doing more and more video as we are today, the likes of Zoom, WebEx, 8x8 as well. But a lot of our clients are global, so we are regularly having conversations in Australia, in the US, other than actual people getting together in an office where we're not seeing that much of a change as yet. Because a lot of what we do is conducted over video and over conference call anyway. Paul Green: So let's talk about the longterm impacts and I think there's two to three areas to look at. The first is, whatever happens and however this rolls out, whether this goes on for a few months or a year and no one knows how it's going to go, eventually the world will return to normal. Eventually the economy will return to normal. Andrew, do you think this could lead to a longterm shift in the way that people run their businesses? Andrew Eardley: I think most businesses are still very office centric. The managing director, the financial directors might work occasionally from home, but if opened their eyes to the fact that they can operate just as efficiently from home office environments as they do from centralised offices. Paul Green: Obviously you've been beating that drum for your clients for years. Are you seeing your clients really jumping onto that now and actually listening to it because it's real? Andrew Eardley: Yeah. I mean lots of them are coming back with, "You said some years ago when you sent out our sessions with Andrew, we could do this, this and this." I'm saying, "Yeah, it's there, it's straight forward, won't take much to change you over to working from home. As long as they've got something that we can work from there. It's really straightforward and easy." Paul Green: Nigel, what opportunities do you see for MSPs in the longer term? And I must just clarify, when I say opportunities, I'm not talking here about cashing in or profiteering off the coronavirus, but rather using things like people being aware of things like remote working suddenly. Nigel Moore: Over the last couple of years, a lot of MSPs have struggled to get their value propositions right with their clients so that the clients can understand the true value of what things like remote work and cybersecurity and these sorts of things are. And I think events like this, as horrible as they are, can help to solidify in clients' minds that, hey, we do actually need to invest some of this stuff, we do need to actually take it seriously because in the past we might not have taken business continuity seriously and now we do. And so to me that's a huge opportunity for MSPs to be able to step up and say, hey, well these kinds of things as you can tell, do happen and can happen, so let's get you as prepared as we possibly can now for the next time around. Paul Green: One of the things that makes MSPs quite relaxed about what's happening or potentially could happen with the economy is this monthly recurring revenue. Nigel, you've always been a massive fan of monthly recurring revenue. Well as anyone would be once the ones they come across it. Can you see now that those people who are, they've got more of the business stuck in break fix are going to be quite motivated to just get on and finish that transition over to MSP? Nigel Moore: 150%. The MSPs that are out there that are there, either pure play managed services or they've got a very high percentage of managed services are some of the most incredibly lucky businesses in this current climate. They're the most protected in some way, shape or form, especially from these early stages of issues. And for the ones that haven't made the transition fully or even started to as yet, this is kind of the icing on the cake that you have to make some changes to things, not only for the greater good of your bank account, but for the greater good of your clients so that you're still there to look after them in the future. Paul Green: And that's just a great point, making sure that you left the client and that's what I say is not profiteering. I think selling someone, as Glenn was saying, a lot more video solution or making sure though they're set up correctly or upgrading them to a better plan. This is actually about helping them to do their work properly. So let's move on to look at marketing and let's assume we are going to into some kind of recession in the longer term, I think the speed at which we've had change in forced upon us, it's going to be in a bit of a shock to everyone's economy and that typically is what triggers some kind of recession. There are famously companies that do more marketing during the recession. There's a company called Specsavers, which my American listeners won't have heard of, but certainly in the UK and in Australia, you'll know it as the national optician because Specsavers dominates the UK opticians. They are dominating Australia as well. Paul Green: It's the equivalent of LensCrafters in the US and they love recessions. As a private business, they spend more on marketing during recessions and come out of recessions with greater market share. Glenn, if you as a marketing expert, if you owned an MSP, what would you do with your marketing during a recession or during a downturn? Glenn Robertson: From our point of view or something that we're talking about here quite a lot, this is a great opportunity and as you said earlier, it's not an opportunity to take advantage, but it's an opportunity to basically look at behavior and this about a reminder of good behaviour. Look, the tools exist to be able to deal with all of the remote work and working from home, et cetera. It's just the behaviour that doesn't. So we should be communicating with our customers and our prospects on a regular basis. We should be helping them, we should be them and we should be enabling them anyway on a regular basis. Glenn Robertson: Let's remember, marketing is not a short term tactic. There are very short term tactics that can be used, but ultimately marketing should be seen as a longterm strategy with various different ongoing methods that you can use in order to help educate and communicate with your customers. Paul Green: And Glen, you're quite famous on this podcast for talking about MDF, which is Marketing Development Funds. And we've said in previous episodes that there's millions and millions of pounds out there. This is a great time, isn't it, To go in and talk to your vendors and say, "Hey look, we want to keep marketing through this. We want to keep selling your products and please can you help us to access your MDF?" Glenn Robertson: Exactly. That's exactly why and all, shall we say, good, in inverted commas, good vendors should welcome that. Come up with an idea, present a plan and actually it doesn't have to be a crazy thinking, funky idea, it can just be, as I mentioned, talking about good behaviour. This is about helping prospects and customers through this period and into the future. How we can help them to get their message to our customers. And we're also talking about helping our customers in the best way that they can deal with and be catered for by us on a monthly basis going forward. Paul Green: So Andrew, again asking you to put your MSP owning hats on rather than the owner of MSP Easy Tools. In the short to long term from your marketing. Are you planning to ramp things up and use this as an opportunity to reach more people in your marketplace? Andrew Eardley: Absolutely. As Glenn was saying, we need to educate, letting them know what the opportunities are, what's available to them. They will be looking for different solutions and they'll come to their trusted advisors. We need to be that calming influence in the marketplace now. Remove the panic and show them that actually it's not complicated. It's not difficult that businesses can continue to work. They just need to implement sensible, straightforward IT systems. Paul Green: Nigel, you have a fairly unique view of MSPs worldwide through The Tech Tribe. So you see how bad most MSPs are at marketing and how little marketing they actually do. What do you see as the big opportunities over the next couple of years? Nigel Moore: The opportunity to me now is to get yourself in a place of trust out in the marketplace. And if we rewind back just two years ago, three years ago, cybersecurity was and still currently is the big, big, big thing and that's just a need of people that MSPs have got the cure for. And if we fast forward to today, there is just a need of people that need to be able to remotely work from home or do these things and MSPs have that cure again. And so there's always the certain percentage of MSPs out there that are doing an amazing job of marketing and there's also the percentage that are struggling. Nigel Moore: And to me as you're going through a process like this and it really helps you hone in and kind of get a feeling and understand that you have to go out there and market in an environment like this so that, when the dust settles and when we get through this horrible period, you are going to be set up to be able to at least start growing your business again and start helping your clients again and serving your people again. Paul Green: And actually you're so right there that you mustn't lose momentum. While I suspect we'll see with lots of MSPs is that they will stop marketing in the short term, that they will stop talking to their audiences, they'll stop spending money on marketing and then when better times return, that's when they will, they will start spending money. But he's almost too late at that point, isn't it, because you've lost that momentum that you need, especially with the length of the sales cycle that MSPs have. Nigel Moore: And the thing with marketing in a time like this is unfortunately the herd mentality of all of us humans is we tend to follow the herd and we tend to self preserve and we self preserve by cutting expenses that typically seem, or that can often seem non-necessary and marketing is one of those expenses. But as you say, the sales cycle in our industry is so incredibly long that if you don't market through this particular period, you're going to struggle coming out the other side. And on the flip side, one of the good things, as you go through recessionary periods and economic downturns, is that marketing costs can reduce and that means your customer acquisition costs can reduce as well because there's not as much competition for ad spend out there. Paul Green: Absolutely. I think that's a great way to end this discussion panel. So thank you very much Nigel, Andrew and Glenn, I really appreciate you coming together at such short notice. Also, Nigel is actually in his pyjamas because it might be the morning in the UK, but its the evening in Sydney, Australia. So thank you guys for being on the panel. Thank you also to my producer James Lett. He's scrapped his day today to turn this podcast around in just a few hours. And the next week we will be back to the usual format. I've got an interview with James Lyon of MSP White Label Websites. Plus we'll be talking about physical help desk buttons that you can attach to your client's computers and we're going to look at how to test marketing strategies with minimal risks for you. See you next week. Voice over : Made in the UK for MSPs around the world. Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast.
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