Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast

Episode 28: The huge profit impact of price increases

Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Episode 28: The huge profit impact of price increases
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In this week's episode

  • Some of the best IT innovations are born from the simplest of ideas, just like the incredible physical Helpdesk Buttons that allow your users to summon support. Paul's joined by Alex Permenter and his colleague Elizabeth Copeland to discuss how they developed this very clever concept and how you can use it to market your MSP
  • Also in this week's show, Paul talks about the immense impact of price increases and why you should be constantly nudging your prices up
  • Plus Paul discusses the 'wheel of life'. Business is so important and so consuming, but you have to remember all the other things that you need to have for a healthy balance

Show notes

Episode transcription

Voiceover: Made in the UK for MSPs around the world. This is Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast. Paul Green: Hello and welcome to another packed show. Here's what we've got coming up for you this week. Alex Permenter: We're trying to figure out a way to make it very easy for end users to put in tickets. Somebody came up with the idea of physically hitting a button and we sort of laughed. Paul Green: We are also going to be looking at the immense impact of putting up your prices and answering a question for an MSP about how you know when your social media is working. Voiceover: Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast. Paul Green: I record this podcast quite a few weeks ahead and as of date of recording, we're still in lockdown or quarantine here in the UK and we're not supposed to leave our homes unless we're going out either to go shopping for food or go for exercise or if our work can't be done from home. Of course work like this can be done from home, can't it? I have to say what's been wonderful apart from the fact that weather's been so nice, is just spending loads of time with my nine year old daughter. Paul Green: I have a good work life balance in normal times, but just lately it's been absolutely cracking because of course we've literally physically been together, trapped in the same house. I dare use the word trapped, but stuck in the same house literally 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And thank goodness what has been already a good relationship between the two of us has just got better and better and we've done loads of stuff together. Paul Green: Weekends have been great but weekdays as well have have been good fun and yet I'm also getting good work done. And I was chatting this over with some of my MSP masterminders just a few weeks ago when we were doing a Zoom call and we were talking about the wheel of life. It's about remembering that there's more to life than just work and it's very easy for us, especially at times of crisis where we have to work a little bit harder, and I know that most MSPs have just done some sterling work over the last couple of months in terms of supporting people, getting them through this, getting them set up for remote working, removing their frustrations, and then going out and marketing and finding new clients because of course this is a great time to steal people from their incumbent MSP when they're unhappy, when they haven't been looked after properly because not everyone has been doing such a good job as you've been doing. Paul Green: The wheel of life is all about balance and if you found that tomorrow that you only had, let's say five years left. For some reason your doctor rings you tomorrow and says, "Yeah, hi. Do you remember those tests you had last year? Well, I just remembered I found your test results on my desk. I've been meaning to call you for a few months. Unfortunately you've got a really rare and bizarre condition, which means you will just drop dead five years tomorrow. So, sorry about that. I have a good life. Bye." Paul Green: And I've picked five years by the way because that's not a short enough time for you to immediately knee jerk and make some massive changes to your life, but it's also not 10, 15, 20 years. What's most likely off the back of a fairly unlikely scenario like that is that you would go and put more balance into your life if you don't already have that. Paul Green: There are a number of things that we have to balance. We have to balance our health, we have to balance our family, we have to balance our wealth, and if we get these things out of balance, that's when we feel wrong in some way. If you ever find yourself getting to a Friday evening and all you can do on a Friday evening is pull yourself onto the sofa and get a glass of wine or a beer and start binging Netflix because you're exhausted, then that's a red flag if you like. The balance is out of whack for you. Paul Green: There are many other flags. Your family saying that they don't spend enough time with you or you get into holiday times and it being a massive, massive stress. Getting yourself prepared for the holiday. The family might prepare themselves, but you yourself are quite stressed out because it's an enormous amount of work for you to get the business and yourself ready. These are all flags that your wheel of life, your balance is out of whack. Paul Green: Now there are five elements of the wheel of life, which you need to make sure that you've got in the correct balance. And the first two are the two resources that we need the most and the two reasons really why we have our own business and that's cash and time. So most of us, we started our own business because we wanted control. We wanted to be our own person. We wanted some times maybe to stick it to the man, but we start the business for all these different reasons and then over a longer period of time we keep going with it because we enjoy the cash that it generates and also because we enjoy having control of our own time and cash and time are our two most basic resources and if you don't have enough of either of those, that's when it feels painful. Paul Green: If you're throwing all of your time into the business and it's not chucking out enough cash for you, that's painful. It's actually equally painful if you're throwing all your time into the business and he's chucking out loads of cash, but there's no time left. You've got to have the right balance of cash and time. And a very smart friend of mine was saying to me just a few weeks ago how they're going to rebalance their life because they're making a ton of cash out of their different business ventures, but they felt that the time was just wrong, that they weren't doing all the things that they wanted to do. In fact, as part of lockdown, they've been going for very long walks every day in some beautiful sunshine and just really enjoying life. That whole thing of stopping to smell the roses. Paul Green: So you need a balance of cash, you need a balance of time. You also need a balance of family. Family are the most important people in our lives if you think about it. I was about to say you only have one family and of course that's not true is it? Many people go on to have two or sometimes even three families, but we've got to look after the family that we've got. Your other half, your children, maybe even your extended family, your parents if they're still here, we do truly only have one family. And as much as sometimes we all want to kill them, slowly or quickly, family are the most important people we've got. Paul Green: There's also having fun. What's your idea of fun? Is it golf? Is it hang gliding? Is it going out into the woods and building dens or sleeping overnight in the middle of a field or riding cows or whatever you're into? Whatever your fun is, you've got to do more of that fun. Paul Green: Unfortunately a lot of my fun I've not been able to do during lockdown because my fun involves wandering around London with a camera, it involves going to the cinema, but I've been able to really get into running, I mean like seriously get into running. Some days I've be running 10 miles, which if you'd said to me just 12 months ago, "Hey, you're going to be going out for 10 mile run some days." I'd literally be laughing at you. But I've discovered that running is fun. And of course it's having very positive effects on my weight and on my mental wellbeing as well. Paul Green: So, I've discovered some new fun from that, which is great. And I've prioritised, in fact, it's really interesting, I found a way to prioritise almost every single day of the week going out for a long run. And before lockdown I wouldn't have done that. I'd have been too busy doing something else. So, I've been quite grateful to lockdown for being able to address that balance and put some fun back into that. Paul Green: So, we've got cash, we've got time, we've got family, we've got fun. There's one more thing that has to go in and that is meaningful work because people like you and me, we have to work. We have to find things that we can do to challenge our brain, to entertain us almost through our work and when I sold my first business back in 2016 I took more or less six months off. I had bits and bobs of work, but none of it was particularly meaningful and mentally I was so bored. I was doing almost any activity just to give myself something to do. I will never put myself in that situation ever again. Paul Green: If I sell another business, I will absolutely put in place projects, in fact, I'm already lining up things that I can do in my fifties and sixties. I want to start a charity. I want to be a magistrate. I want to be a fiction writer. All of these are things that I can challenge my brain with. So, right up to the moment where I cannot work because my body or my mind will not allow me to anymore, I'm going to throw myself into meaningful work. Paul Green: And do you know what? I bet you I last longer because I'm keeping my brain going and I've got meaningful work, things to do. So all of those things need to be in balance. Cash, time, family, fun, and meaningful work. And if you feel that your wheel of life balance isn't quite right at the moment, please do take some time, perhaps some time at the weekend, to reflect on what's out of balance and please do take urgent action on it because this stuff is so important. Voiceover: Here's this week's clever idea. Paul Green: Now this one's a biggie because I want to talk about putting your prices up and the immense impact on your bottom line of doing that. Now, as I said earlier on, I have recorded this quite a few weeks ahead, so I'm not quite sure if you're still in quarantine now or lockdown, but certainly the world is in a very different place and what I'm about to talk about might not be for now, but it might be something to do down the line. Paul Green: Saying that, there might be some prices that you can increase now and some prices which you can't. And we'll come to that towards the end of this segment. But in general, putting up your prices is something that you have to do on a regular basis, at least annual. I would almost recommend that you review your prices twice a year because the impact of putting up your price, even just a few percent, is absolutely massive when you're focused on the bottom line. Paul Green: And remember the purpose of the business is not to provide IT support to your clients and to provide employment to your staff, the purpose of the business is to give you a great life and to churn out loads of net profit every single year in order to give you that great life. In fact, your clients will end up with a better service longterm and your staff will end up with more pleasurable, better paid jobs long term, if your business is highly profitable. No one, trust me, no one wants to work for a business that struggles for years and years and years and ultimately it's not much fun being a client of that business either. So, you really owe it to your family, you owe it to your staff and bizarrely, you owe it to your clients to put your prices up enough to make enough net profit that the business is fun to run. Paul Green: It's rewarding enough to run, and you can provide a really high level of service. Now, let me give you an example of how much putting up your prices can make such a big difference. Let's say you made a 30% gross margin, just simplify everything that you sell. Everything you sell you make a 30% gross margin and let's say that you put up your prices by just 5%. Now, putting up the prices across the board by just 5%, which I know you wouldn't do but just go with this for an example, you could actually afford to lose 14% of your revenue and you would still make the same amount of gross profit. Paul Green: Now let's assume you were able to put your prices up by 20%. You could actually lose 40% of your revenue and still make the same amount of gross margin. That's the beautiful impact, and that's just putting up your prices 20%. That's the beautiful impact of increasing prices. It has a dramatic effect on the bottom line. Paul Green: Now even if you are scared of putting up the front end prices, there's always something that you can do in the backend. What's the difference between front end and backend? Well, front end are the prices that your clients see, that prospects see, so your per user charge or your per device charge. Maybe even what you're charging for Office 365 or some of your other basic subscriptions, the things that they can go and compare to other MSPs. But then you have a series of backend prices as well. And do you remember just two weeks ago, in episode 25, we were talking about how much do you charge for ad hoc clients and how you probably weren't charging enough. That's a perfect example of a backend price. Paul Green: Very, very few of your clients, when they start working with you, will ask you how much you're going to charge them per hour for ad hoc pricing. It's the same with projects now. They may care about the project cost when they first come on board with and there's a certain onboarding costs, but long term they're just not going to ask a question like that because it just doesn't occur to them to say, "Hey, you know in about four years time when you're going to get rid of our server and move us to the cloud, how much is that going to cost us?" Paul Green: Because apart from the fact that you can't price it, it just doesn't occur to them to look at something like that. So, if you can't put up your front end prices now because of the current situation, perfectly understandable. You've got to remain competitive, you've got to remain good value for money to your clients. But there are always backend prices that you can just nudge up and nudge up and nudge up. And remember that figure a 5% increase in prices. If nothing else changes, you could lose 14% of your work and still make the same amount of gross margin. Paul Green: Now what we're really looking to do is to keep all of that work, put the price up, and actually keep all of the gross margin and add more gross margin. That would be the ultimate goal. Stick something in your diary every six months just to have a look at your prices, review them, have a look at how vendor prices have gone up and you don't just want to adjust for inflation as it were or for their price increases, you want to make sure that you're also adjusting so your own net profits are going up every six or 12 months. Voiceover: Paul's blatant plug. Paul Green: Now having just suggested you for all your prices up, one of my core services, I haven't put the price up for some time. It's called the MSP marketing edge and I have no plans to increase the price this year. It's one of the ways that I'm helping MSPs around the world to improve their marketing so that they can be very well positioned to go and steal clients from lazy incumbent MSPs who just frankly aren't doing a great job. Paul Green: So, if you go into MSPmarketingedge.com and you'll see everything you get in there, there's basically two parts to it. The first part is on a monthly basis you get a whole load of marketing tools that you can just use to promote your MSP in your area, because we do only supply this to one MSP per area. So you get a guide, an educational as you can give to your audiences, you get a video, you get a press release, you get some promotional emails, you get a sales letter, there's a whole bunch of stuff and it turns up every month. Paul Green: Now the second part to it is ad hoc stuff if you like MSP marketing edge plus. So for example, during the coronavirus situation, we've been supplying lots of ad hoc marketing materials to our members to just help them at every single stage. We've got Have I Been Pwned plugin that goes into your website so you can use it as a form of data capture for people checking to see if their email address has been compromised. There's a book called email hijack, which is written from the point of view of decision makers, the business owners and managers that you want to reach, and you can rebrand that book and use that in your area. And there's a whole bunch of other stuff as well. Lots and lots of stuff. The idea is that it's super value, because it's only, in the UK, it's 99 pounds plus VAT every month. Or for the rest of the world, and we certainly aim it at the US but we sell it in about 12 countries now, it's just $129 a month. Paul Green: So, it's meant to be a very, very low impact on your cashflow but high impact on your marketing. So you want to see all the details of that and check to see if your area is still available, just go into MSPmarketingedge.com. The UK in US versions of that are completely automated so you can check if your area's available in sign up. And if you're not quite sure, if you're outside of the US or the UK and you want to just inquire and see if this is something we can supply you with, we're delighted to chat. The email address is hello@mspmarketingedge.com Voiceover: The big interview. Elizabeth Copeland: I'm Elizabeth Copeland. I am here with Help Desk Buttons. I'm the COO and front end developer for our product. I'm here with Alex Permenter, He's our owner and CEO, and we're excited to talk about how our product is available to be a great front end for users with a physical button that allows them to put in a ticket and at the same time they're putting in a ticket to your PSA, we're also gathering a whole slew of real time diagnostic information as well as screenshots to help your techs resolve problems quickly and effectively. Paul Green: And I featured HelpDeskButtons.com in the podcast, I think it was back in March, originally it was something my MSP masterminders told me about. One of them mentioned it in a session one day and we put it up on a screen and we all looked at your website and most of the members of that group, their reaction was, "Wow, what a great idea. A physical help desk button that the users could have on their desk and when they need help they press that button." Paul Green: Now, Alex, I know that you own an MSP as well. Was this product created out of the frustrations that you had within your MSP? Alex Permenter: Well, yeah, absolutely. So, I think that we deal with a lot of the problems that everyone deals with, especially as we're starting to scale up just a little bit. One of the things that we identified was a key source of problems and client complaints was that a ticket had never been created by the end user. They had called somebody, texted a cell phone, sent an email to the wrong place, grabbed somebody walking down the hall. We really pushed them to make tickets or at least call our service desk, but it's a struggle and so we're trying to figure out a way to make it very, very easy for end users to put in tickets. So, there are a couple of platforms that are ticketing front ends and there's nothing wrong with any of them, but the ones that we had tried were still a little bit difficult for end users to use. They didn't like it. There was a little bit of pushback. Alex Permenter: And so our goal was let's make it absolutely as easy for end users to put in a ticket as we possibly can. Somebody came up with the idea of physically hitting a button and we laughed, but we had built a prototype in software with a keyboard by the end of the day. It just grew from there. We've added a bunch of diagnostics and things to make it give a really compelling ticket and our whole team has contributed to it. Everybody who owns this platform is part of my MSP and they're just folks who have added their ideas and time. Paul Green: Elizabeth, you're one of the front end developers working on this. When a user presses the physical button, you've said a couple of times that it captures information to help the MSP diagnose the problem. What kind of information does it actually gather? Elizabeth Copeland: We gather a variety, a myriad, of information sources from ... We have the user's last 20 actions. We have screenshots of those actions before they press the button, so if you're looking to replicate issue or if you have an intermittent issue that you haven't been able to catch in the act, you can press the button and there's that screenshot collected there. Elizabeth Copeland: We've got software, network, hardware, diagnostic information, antivirus and security information and all of this is great on its own, but we also have the ability to append or upload any additional files that the MSP is looking to gather as well with every report that comes in. Paul Green: So Alex, for your technicians within your MSP, what kind of a difference does it make for them doing their job properly? Because obviously they've immediately got the information that perhaps they've had to go and gather from other sources previously. Alex Permenter: The biggest difference far and away is on the intermittent tickets, the tickets where we can't reproduce the problem or the end user is unable to explain what they were doing very well. So, it helps a lot with the communication and the mysteries. We built this not as a marketing tool, which I know is what you guys are geared to. We built it as a diagnostic tool for our techs. So, we just have lots of instances where we're spending more time chasing down the user, trying to get additional information, trying to find out what they were talking about when they say my computer is broken, that sort of thing. And this is very, very good for that sort of thing. So, it clarifies a lot of issues immediately and the places that it makes a really, really big difference are on the intermittent issues where we just can't reproduce them. Alex Permenter: But now they hit the button the second that it's happening and we see here's what was going on the network at that time. Here's the processes that are running on the system at that time. Things that are very hard to get from a traditional RMM, you can only go in and look at it after the fact, and you don't really know what was happening when they have the problem. Alex Permenter: So, it mostly helps with communication and it lets our techs also get a jump on these tickets before they get started. They can see the screenshots of what the user was doing before they hit the button. So, usually you get a minute or two of their mouse clicks and we highlight those and show everything that they were doing. So our techs, even if they haven't worked on the software that this person is using, they have all the steps to reproduce the issue themselves. They have the time to look up what's going on and when they get on with the client, they seem a lot more knowledgeable, they have the answer in their pocket already. So, we present a lot better to our clients because we know we have the answer by the time the tech is talking to the client. Paul Green: Which is just brilliant for protecting your relationship with the users you're supporting. Now, Alex, you said there that it obviously was designed as a diagnostic tool originally. Elizabeth, how are MSPs using this to market themselves and to differentiate themselves from their competitors? Elizabeth Copeland: So, the first thing that you notice when you look at the button is that it's completely customisable to whatever marketing message you would like to have on it. Perhaps that's your brand. Perhaps it's, "Get some help with the click of a button." And that is an item that can sit directly on the user's desk. We have two types of buttons. One's a simple button that just all it does is it activates the software, but we also have hub buttons that you can plug in a keyboard and a mouse to and that can sit closer on the desk with your brand right there for the users to be able to see. And it's usable and a really valuable aspect of being able to show your promise to good service right there with your brand. Paul Green: Okay. Finally, Alex, what's the best way for us to get in touch with you and learn more about help desk buttons? Alex Permenter: Oh, well we would love you guys to visit our website at HelpDeskButtons.com. We have a free trial that's available. You can sign up and log right in and play with it. And if you need more information or need help getting it set up, you can just reach out to us and we're happy to help. Voiceover: Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast. Ask Paul anything. Ashley: Hi, my name is Ashley from Pure IT. How do I know if my social media is working? Paul Green: Great question, Ashley. Thank you very much. And there are two answers to this. The first of them is engagement and the second is results. So with social media, the beautiful thing about it and what makes these platforms so addictive is engagement. You post a bit of content on social media, someone likes it, someone else comments on it, someone likes it, someone shares it. Can you see the addiction of that? Paul Green: As humans, we're psychologically driven to seek attention, to seek out other people who engage with us, who care about us. Who think something over us. This is a deep psychological thing for most of us and social media absolutely ticks that box. It's why Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and all these other platforms have absolutely taken over the planet because they ticked so many boxes in the way that we are psychologically driven. Paul Green: From a business point of view, the more engagement you can get, the better. Engagement early on when you post something actually makes more people see it. Now we don't know this for a fact because Facebook and LinkedIn and all the other platforms, they don't tell us exactly how they work, but we know that if you post a bit of content and within the first hour you get some likes, you get some comments, and you get some shares, then more people are likely to see that content. Paul Green: In fact, and again we don't know exactly what it is, but it is believed that each of those things has a point score allocated to it. So, it might be that a like gives you one point, it might be the comment gives you two points, and that is share gives you three points. Because these are getting harder. It's easy for someone to hit the like button, requires a bit more effort for them to comment, and there's a social risk to them of sharing it to their network. Paul Green: And let's say the score is, or the threshold is, 30 points or 40 points. If you hit that point score within an hour, it's actually telling the platform this is an important piece of content that people care about. And it's why you can switch on your Facebook on your phone, and you'll see a piece of content that you and your friends have been most engaged with and you see that first and that's because either, and this works exactly the same on Facebook or LinkedIn, algorithmically people engaging with that content has told the platform to share it with loads of other people. Paul Green: So, there's lots and lots of benefits of people sharing. The other benefit is of course the more they engage with your stuff, the more likely they are to engage with you. The whole point of doing social media from a business marketing point of view is we want to touch out prospects. The more touchpoints we have with prospects, the more likely we are to engage with them at the point at which they have a perceived need or perceived want. Paul Green: And whatever you've read about the number of touch points, you can forget that. It is not 10 touch points or 20. It's 100, it's 200, it's 300. It's getting them to engage with you on social media. It's getting them to open your emails. It's getting them to look at your website, to watch your videos, to reply to your LinkedIn message, to pick up the piece of direct mail that's on your desk. There's all of these and more, they are all the touch points for your business and the more you have of them with your prospects, the more likely you are to get a place at the table at the point they're fed up with their incumbent MSP. Paul Green: So, that's the first measure. Engagement. The second measure is simply results. If you put something on Facebook or on LinkedIn and ultimately it gets someone to message you or book a 15 minute phone call or just reply to you and say, "I'd love to have a chat about this." That's results. And results really can be measured in a number of different ways. It can be measured in activity, it can be measured in responses, it can be measured in phone calls, it can be measured in meetings. The ultimate measure is of course new clients and sometimes it's very, very hard to track back new clients to a specific platform because of all those touch points that we were talking about earlier. If someone has seen your email and watched your video and engaged with you on Facebook and then it's actually something on LinkedIn that made the message you and say, "Hey, can we chat?" Paul Green: Then you might think that it was just LinkedIn that, "Oh yeah, LinkedIn is a great platform." Whereas actually it was all of those touch points put together. So, you can't judge these things in isolation anymore. They all work together to give you a multitouch way to talk to your prospects. But essentially when it comes to social media, you've got to keep doing it. Five or six or seven days a week because it's the only way to keep touching those prospects, which ultimately down the line will give you the results you want: new clients. Voiceover: How to contribute to the show. Paul Green: Isn't it about time that you were on the show? Have you got a question for me? It can be a question about anything to do with marketing or growing your MSP. Grab your phone, fire up the audio recorder, record me a little audio thing like that. Just remember to say your name at the beginning, so, "Hi, my name is so and so from business and" and then just ask your question. Send it through to me. You can email that through to hello@paulgreensmspmarketing.com. And if you've got any other feedback on the show as well, I'd love to hear it from you. Good feedback or bad feedback. It can all come through to the same email address. Hello@paulgreensmspmarketing.com. Voiceover: Coming up next week. Kyle Sutton: How does Google make money? They're not really in the search business. They're in the experience business. Paul Green: That's Kyle Sutton. He's the senior director of marketing at Solar Winds and he's also spent many years doing Google search campaigns. He's going to be here on the show next week giving you a whole stack of advice on how you can improve your SEO, your search engine optimisation, for your business. We're also going to be talking about not breaking things that are working really well and how we can recognise they're working really well and how to grow your business by 33% this year the easy way. Looking forward to seeing you on next week's show. Of course I won't see you because I'm a recording and you're human, but hey, you get the idea, Voiceover: Made in the UK for MSPs around the world. Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast.
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