Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast

Episode 48: Why MSPs shouldn’t listen to critics

Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Episode 48: Why MSPs shouldn’t listen to critics
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In this week's episode

  • Everyone's a critic... but only some of them are worth listening to. Boosting your marketing efforts to grow your MSP can increase the chances of someone criticising you. This week on the show Paul explains who you should listen to and who you can happily ignore
  • Speaking of criticism, this week Paul's joined by Lindsay Willott, the founder of Customer Thermometer, the brilliant one click satisfaction app. They discuss how you can improve your retention rate by embracing the small things that often go wrong within your MSP
  • Plus on the show this week, 3 recommended marketing blogs to inspire some fresh ideas. And 2 recommended books from the Nigel Moore, the leader of the Tech Tribe

Show notes

Episode transcription

Voiceover: Fresh every Tuesday, for MSPs, around the world. This is Paul Green's, MSP Marketing Podcast. Paul Green: I'm delighted to have you back for another podcast. Here's what coming up in today's show. Lindsay Willott: Actually, I don't want to start recommending you to people, or are you going to call me and ask me for a bunch of my contacts? Paul Green: We've also got a great book suggestion from the legend, that is Nigel Moore, of the Tech Tribe. That's coming up towards the end of the show. I'm going to tell you how you can win some pretty cool prizes, as we celebrate our first anniversary. And, I've got three great marketing blogs, that you really should follow. Voiceover: Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast. Paul Green: I do a lot of proactive marketing, and I mean a serious amount. There's me spending about 50 percent of my time on proactive marketing. I have a full-time marketing manager, a guy called James, who is amazing. And between us, we share a network of virtual assistants, freelancers, people who do specific jobs for us. So as a business, we are as geared up for marketing our business, as much as we are geared up for delivering, what it is, that we actually sell. And this, by the way, is the secret to running a great business. You shouldn't just be an MSP; you should be the marketer of an MSP as well. And, you almost need to dedicate, I guess, really up to 50 percent of your time, to doing that. Anyway, what I want to talk about today is criticism. Because, I'm out there so much pretty, proactive on LinkedIn, perhaps not as proactive as I should be; but we're doing loads and loads of stuff on email. Paul Green: We have all sorts of segments, with different campaigns running; some of them broadcasts, some of them automated schedules. We do loads of stuff on our Facebook group, which has just passed more than a thousand MSPs. We've got this podcast of course. We do bits and bobs on YouTube. And inevitably, at some point you get criticised. In fact, this happened to me on LinkedIn, a few weeks ago. It was when we were doing the podcast about good, better, best. You remember the one, about three-tier selling. I think this was back in episode 44. And, I put it on LinkedIn as I normally do; and, someone I forget who, criticised it saying, "Oh, that's very old hat, it's not how it's done these days." "That's what all the big vendors used to do back in the day." Do you know what? I don't care, in the nicest possible way. Paul Green: That's why the person's name, hasn't stuck in my head. In the nicest possible way, I don't care about critics, I really don't. And, in fact, as you do more and more marketing, you have to toughen up to the critics. Some of the things that have been said directly to me over the years, have been just ridiculous, they really have. Paul Green: I sent out a piece of direct mail once, and someone sent it back to me, without a stamp on the envelope. So, I had to pay, to go and get it from the post office. And, they'd scribbled all over it; and written, recycle your own rubbish. It's like, why would you do that? Why would you waste your life energy, taking someone's direct mail, which whether you liked it or not is irrelevant, but writing on it, getting an envelope, writing the address and posting it. Why would you do that? What kind of small minded nature, would make you want to do something like that? It's like the people who hit reply to your emails, and just give you a bit of grief or say, "How did you get my details? I do love it when that happens, because I can show someone the page they opted in, and tell them the exact date and time that they opted in, and sometimes their IP address as well; and that's a fun one, that is. Paul Green: But, you have to ignore the critics. Because here's the thing that happens, as you do more and more marketing, more and more people criticise you. It is that classic thing, if you put your head above the parapet and people take pot shots at you. But this is the nature of the world, small minded people cannot help, but attacking what they fear, or attacking what they have an opinion of. Paul Green: It's the main reason I stay clear of Reddit, to be honest. Have you been on Reddit? It's like the Wild West of the internet. Anything that you put on there, someone will come in, will attack it, will criticise it, and typically they'll do it anonymously as well. And, I just don't have time for that kind of stuff. What I see though, with some of the MSPs that I work with, is that, as they do more and more marketing, they start to attract more criticism as well. And, it really affects them. One person, one stranger emailing back, and saying that they're not happy with something, or they didn't like this email, or they disagree with them, or something like that. And some of my clients, they really can't cope with that. And, I understand that, I understand the psychology of that; because I used to be like that as well. Paul Green: When I started my first business back in 2005, if I had any criticism at all, from clients, from my team, or even from just strangers, responding to marketing, I took it very, very personally; and I would obsess over it. I would go to sleep thinking about it at night. It'll be the first thought in my mind the next morning, and that's quite disruptive to a normal life. And, over the years, I just kind of hardened up a bit. And, I realised that actually, if the clients criticise you, then that's something that you should listen to. Because 99 times out of a 100, your clients want you to succeed. They want you to be great, they want you to do a good job. And, I've never been scared of client feedback, because client feedback back is your clients telling you, how they think you can improve, what you do. Paul Green: They're not always right, of course, but they are right, a majority of the time. And, I listened very, very carefully to what my clients say. And, if we can go and act on something like that, then we will go and act on it. But, I'll tell you who I don't listen to, strangers. People who just respond to marketing, that I've sent out. People I don't know. And, I think you should have exactly the same attitude. Sure, if they come back with a little bit of criticism, and it's a valid point, that's one thing. But it's the nasty trolls, the critics, the angry anonymous people on the internet; you shouldn't listen to those people. Because they're just not valid, their opinion is not valid. You're trying to do something amazing with your business. Paul Green: You're trying to grow your business, get more new clients, make more profits, so you can pay your staff more, so you can invest in better tools, and do an even better job for your clients. That's why you're marketing yourself. That's why putting yourself out there and being proactive, it's a really important part of growing your business. If you don't do that, you can't grow the business. Being good at what you do, isn't enough. You've got to be great at marketing, what you do as well. And, that's why I think you've got to ignore those critics, focus on what your clients say, focus on what people are doing with their wallets, more than what they're doing with their angry, anonymous comments. Voiceover: Here's this week's clever idea. Paul Green: Let's be honest, with the internet, it's so easy to find the answer to almost any question that you have. The problem is knowing, which answer. We've all done this when we've Googled a problem, and there's been about 640,000 potential answers to that problem. This is why your business still exists, and my business still exists, because even though the answers are out there, you need someone with experience to pick the correct answer, for the specific set of circumstances. Paul Green: Now, let's take marketing advice for example, there's tons of marketing advice out there, but it is not an equal playing field, because there's a ton of absolute rubbish. And then, there's a small number of marketing blogs, that are actually worth you reading. And, I'm going to give you three of them now. So, these are three marketing blogs, that marketing people like to read, but they're not techie, marketing techie blogs, getting all technical with your marketing. Well, actually one of them is a little bit techie, but it's still a very interesting read. Let me tell you what they are. The first blogs that I read and that I recommend, is the HubSpot Blog. Now, HubSpot is just amazing, at its own content marketing. HubSpot is a CRM, it's an integrated suite of tools that you can use on your website to track prospects, and just see what's happening across all sorts of things, across your business. Paul Green: It's a very powerful tool set. I know a number of people that are using it now. It's very expensive, it's not cheap at all. And, you'll find that your bill goes up, and up, and up. But my goodness, these guys know how to do marketing. They presumably use their own tools to do marketing; and they are really, really good at marketing. And, their blog is one of the best marketing blogs out there. So, if you just Google HubSpot Blog, you will be in fine company, there is plenty of really good advice there. What they're particularly good at is, long form content, where they do very, very in-depth articles about specific subjects. And, it's no surprise really, that they're in a partnership with Marcus Sheridan, who wrote the book, They Ask You Answer. Because, he uses HubSpot to power his businesses. And, he recommends long form content, and HubSpot is full of long form content. Paul Green: So, I wouldn't be surprised if they are very, very close, and feeding each other. That's not a bad thing. In fact, that's a very fruitful partnership. The other blog that I read on a regular basis, is written by Neil Patel. Now this is quite a search engine optimisation focused blog, but Neil Patel is just a genius. He's a genius, again, for writing very long form content, very in-depth articles about very specific things to do with search engines, and coming up more on the website, and increasing your conversions. But the way he writes them, they're so open. I'm not a search engine expert, by any measure, I'm not even really a tactical expert, I'm a good strategy guy. And, I have to work very hard to do the tactical stuff, that's why I employ other people to do it for me. But I understand, pretty much everything I read on Neil Patel's blog. It's just wonderful, and he has a writing style, which makes it really easy for anyone; people like you and me, to understand exactly what it is, he's writing about. Paul Green: The third book that I recommend you read, is a little bit different, but it's one of those that could give you some amazing ideas, and it's marketingexamples.com . So here, the author of this blog, I forget his name, but he trawls around the internet looking for examples of great marketing. And he will then, go into an analysis of why these are great marketing. And so often, if we're looking for inspiration for something to do, or a new experiment to try; or just generally, just ideas, because a lot of great marketing comes out of taking two or three ideas, and putting them together, and creating a brand new idea. Paul Green: Well often, we'll go onto marketingexamples.com , and we'll find some great ideas, and it will trigger off ideas, something new, we would simply never have thought of. I mean, these are just three of the great blogs that I read. There are a number more, that I could talk about, and maybe I'll feature them in a future podcast. But, if you were to read only these three blogs for your marketing education; Oh my goodness, you're going to get such great ideas out of them. Voiceover: Paul's blatant plug. Paul Green: You might've heard me launched this competition in last week's podcast. We're celebrating nearly a year of the podcast, with a giveaway throughout the whole of October. I've got three cool prizes for you to win. First prize is, a one-to-one marketing consult with me. We will jump on a Zoom call, we'll go through all of your marketing. And, I will advise you on a load of things that you can do; both strategic and tactical stuff, to get more new leads, turn those leads into prospects, and ultimately those prospects into clients. Paul Green: Now, if you give your permission, we'll record that and turn it into a future podcast special. If you really rather not do that, that's fine with me. We'll just do it as a one-to-one consult. That's a conversation we can have, if you win the first prize. And, the second prize is a copy of my best selling video training course. It's called the MSP Net Profit Masterclass. It sells on my websites for around 799 pounds, plus VAT, if you're in the UK. Or $999, if you're in the U.S., or anywhere else around the world. Paul Green: And, it's a 21 week video course, very, very powerful; completely focused on improving the net profitability of your MSP. So, that's the second prize. The third prize is a hundred pounds to spend on Amazon, or whatever is the equivalent in your local currency, and my recommended book list. So, you can go and buy some business and marketing books that I recommend, or you could just spend it on yourself, really doesn't matter. Now to enter is very simple, you just have to go onto my website, paulgreensmspmarketing.com/win. And, what that will do is, that will redirect you to a post on LinkedIn; and, on that post, it tells you exactly how you have to win. It's very, very simple. I've made it easy to do. And, all the terms and conditions, and all that kind of legal stuff, that's on there as well. paulgreensmspmarketing.com/win. Voiceover: The big interview. Lindsay Willott: Hi, I'm Lindsay Willott. I'm the founder of Customer Thermometer. We provide one click feedback satisfaction and software, for a whole range of markets all over the world. But we specialise in service, help desk ticketing systems and also MSPs. Paul Green: So, loads of MSPs use Customer Thermometer. And, I've had lots of discussions with people about it, and how simple it is. And, I love those the little ticks, which one are you going to press at the end of a ticket, to give instant feedback? It's one of those things, that when you look at it, you think, "Oh, that's so obvious, why didn't I think of that?" So, what was the inspiration for you? What made you think up Customer Thermometer, and create it back in 2011? Lindsay Willott: Customer Thermometer came from, actually an experience that I had in a technology marketing agency. So, I founded a tech marketing agency, when I was quite young actually, I was 24. And, we grew it quite well through the recession. And, we were finding that, as we brought people on board to look after our big retained customers where, they were monthly retainers, or annual retainers; and LTB was really important, although I don't think we understood the LTB term back then, we wanted to make sure that the people that were looking after those customers, were doing as good a job, as we would have done, I guess. We didn't have the capacity, because you had lots of customers and lots of stakeholders in each customer, to ring everybody every week. And also, that would have just got a bit annoying. So, we wanted a way really of reaching beyond the business, in a way that wasn't time-consuming or annoying to just say, "How are you feeling about, how we've done this month?" Lindsay Willott: And, our clients knew that we would respond very quickly. We had an SLA of responding, I think within three hours, if someone hit the most negative rating. And, it would be me or the co-founder of the business that called them directly, within three hours and just said, "I'm really sorry, can you tell us a bit more about what's gone wrong?" And, so many of our customers asked to buy this thing that we'd kind of rigged up, using outlook. But, it just seemed like a really good idea to build it. And, actually what's really interesting to me and it goes back to Net Promoter Score, I think, and the whole closing the loop thing; people respond much more to a person using the Customer Thermometer system, as a sort of, all encompassing process around the business, around customer satisfaction. So, the phone call and the process that's wrapped around it, for customer delight, is the most important thing, in that customer success and customer framework, I would say. Paul Green: You mentioned Net Promoter Score there. Would you mind just explaining what that is, for anyone that doesn't quite know? Lindsay Willott: A sort of an industry benchmark way of getting customer loyalty. It's really a customer loyalty rating about... It's the question that you see on lots of surveys, that said, being on a scale of zero to 10, would you recommend this to a friend or a colleague? It was invented by the consultant Bain & Company. And, It's largely used in large businesses. I sit on the fence really, about how useful it is, more broadly, I think it's very overused. And, it can put people off, if you use it too early in your process. Lindsay Willott: So, I think if you've just started to sell to somebody, you've just onboarded them; I think the whole would you recommend us question, can actually be quite off-putting. Because, I think the person receiving it might think, well, actually I don't want to start recommending you to people, or are you going to call me and ask me for a bunch of my contacts. It can be a little off-putting, so you got to be careful where you use it. But, it produces as a single score, that allows you to benchmark yourself against other companies in your industry. And so, that's why I think it's been very broadly adopted, particularly at massive global conglomerate level. Paul Green: So you're, I think it's about more than 1500 companies now, in 60 countries across the world. So, you clearly know a lot about customer feedback. What are the best practices? What are the things that you should be doing when you get negative feedback, and when you get positive feedback? Lindsay Willott: The most important thing is action. The most important thing is that, if somebody has taken the time to give you that feedback, don't hide from it. Even if it's awful, don't hide from it, get on the phone, have a conversation. Most of the time, that massively diffuses it, because the person is not expecting a phone call, and they will fall off their chair and actually go, "Ooh, I'm really sorry, I was just a bit cross." We see that a lot. And particularly, if you really have messed up, which all companies do, I think that's the other thing to accept is, we know that is impossible to run. Even the best brands that we see, the kind of Glossier's and the Dollar Shave Clubs who use us, incredible level of customer satisfaction. Lindsay Willott: But, everybody messes up from time-to-time, or a customer perceives that, they have. Get on the phone, have a conversation about it, send flowers or an Amazon voucher, something like that. That goes a really, really long way. And make sure, that you share that feedback in a completely non blameworthy way within the business, to say, "This is what we did wrong, it doesn't matter why that happened, because we're all doing these things with the best intentions, but let's not do it again and let's all learn from it." I think a lot of companies, even small ones, hide something that's gone wrong, because it's down to an individual or somebody made a mistake. And, I think if you can encourage that blame-free culture, where you just say, "look, we all mess up; let's talk about it, so that we can make sure that it doesn't happen again." And, as we all know, customers have very different vagueries, certain things that will delight one customer, will not delight another one. Lindsay Willott: And so, if you share it within that context of learning, what the individual customers like, I think it's very powerful. Definitely, definitely reduces churn. Because, you just don't let it breed, and you just don't let it get onto social media too, you've got that kind of private monitoring of customer SAT. And, then on the positive level, I think that's a really interesting one; so, where you have overly long surveys, people just won't bother to fill them in to say, they're delighted. It just doesn't happen. Only unhappy individuals are motivated to complete long forms. If you can, use something shorter, or use something that's more engaging, and more akin to the kind of Uber, rate your driver, that sort of scenario. At various touch points, you get more positive feedback as a result. That's actually a really good virtuous circle within the team. Lindsay Willott: They start to appreciate what good service looks like, as opposed to just being beaten with a stick, about what bad service looks like. And, you can start to celebrate that success, and people become proud, of the gold stars that they've received, and the plaudits. And also, when you get those really good pieces of feedback, a lot of the time, if you reach out to that customer and say, "Hey, can we have a case study?" "Can we have a quote?" "Can we use that on our website?", you start to actually create quite a library of really useful commentary, about how you can get your staff performing at the highest level. But also, assets and tools that you can use to market, and sell your business to new customers as well. Paul Green: And, for MSPs using Customer Thermometer, or any of the other tools, what are the best practice things for them? Is it the case of, as you just said, being very responsive, diffusing problems before they happen, and using the positivity to enhance your team, and to make your team happy; or are there some specific technology-based things, that you could be doing with that as well? Lindsay Willott: The process around it is the most important thing. I think what we see is, many people using this system purely within their ticketing environment. But the most successful users of it, and I think the ones that get even more value, are the ones that use it more widely. So, a good example would be, if you can set it up so that, you're checking how the customers onboarding and training was, you're checking every month just to see, are you broadly happy, that might be somewhere where you might want to use the Net Promoter question; then the ticketing piece. And then, towards the end as well; and, any feedback on regular sales and servicing. Lindsay Willott: And actually, if you can track that feedback to an individual domain, then when you're going in for your quarterly business review, you can compile that, and take it in with you; so that you've got that as a bit of a suit of armour. Because we hear a lot that, you're only as good as your last ticket or your last failure. If there's been a big outage, or some massive issue in the week before your renewal comes up, you're really struggling to get off the back foot there, to be able to get your renewal for the year, or to up sell more product or service. Whereas I think, if that does happen, and you go in with a QBR that says, "Look, we appreciate that we had a bit of a howler last week, but this is how we fixed it, because we had all of our warning systems in place." And actually, if you look at previous quarter, satisfaction was at 97 percent, that can be incredibly valuable as a tool. Lindsay Willott: I think the other place we see people really doing things well, is when they go into sell to new customers, it's a differentiator. So they will say, "Look, not only do we really care about how this works for you, but we've got this whole system, whereby we measure it at these points, we will feedback how we're doing and how you've told us we're doing once a quarter; and, we will also call you within X hours, or email you in Y hours, if things are not up to standard." And, I think that demonstrates a real commitment, visibly, to customer satisfaction. Which ultimately, with an MSP and particularly at the moment, you just want everything to work well, you want the relationship to be good, and you want to know that they're keeping an eye on that, not just the technical service quality, but the service wrap around the outside. And so, when you're going in to sell, I think it's one way that you can differentiate to say, "We don't just care about it, we actively measure it, at all of these points and follow up instantly, if you're not happy." Voiceover: This is just brilliant stuff. Thank you, Lindsey. How can we get in touch with you? What's Customer Thermometers website? Lindsay Willott: So, it's customerthermometer.com. If anyone wants anything at all, they can email me. So, my email address is lindsay@customerthermometer.com, and that's Lindsay. And, we're on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well. So any questions, there's a ton of free assets on our website, including an MSP customer success playbook, which is free to download; and, you don't need to put your details in or anything. And, if anyone wants to chat about anything at the moment, we're really happy to help. It's a tough, tough marketing environment; so, we're giving as much as we can, and supporting our community as much as we can. So, if we can help, then yeah, get in touch. Voiceover: Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast. This week's recommended book. Nigel Moore: Good day, Nigel Moore here from the Tech Tribe. I may be a little bit biased, but we are the industry's most awesome program and community for MSPs. And, I'm going to cheat a little bit here and recommend two books. Now, as MSPs, we are constantly working with operating systems, operating systems for our clients servers, and computers, and all sorts of stuff. And, a computer needs an operating system to know how to work. And, the same goes for our businesses, our businesses need an operating system to know how to work, or for us to know how to handle them and work with them. And quite often, we're not intentional about crafting that operating system. And so, my suggested two books is, Get A Grip by Gino Wickman, and the corresponding or the complimentary book, called Traction by Gino Wickman. Nigel Moore: Now the book Traction, is a textbook of how to implement, what Gino calls, the Entrepreneurial Operating System into a business, which an operating system for how to run a business. Things like meeting frameworks, and KPI frameworks, and goal planning, and all of that kind of stuff, is all within this framework. And, he calls it the Entrepreneurial Operating System. And the book Traction, runs through all the different parts of that operating system. Now, the complimentary book, Get A Grip, which I actually recommend you read first, is the parable, of an IT services company, actually implementing Traction into their business. So, it's a great read, highly recommend both of them, hope you get it implemented in your business, and I'll talk to you soon. Voiceover: How to contribute to the show. Paul Green: Always double the value from Nigel Moore. And, if you've got a book suggestion that you'd like to make, it doesn't matter who you are, you could be a vendor, you could be an MSP, you could just be someone interested in our world. If you've got a great book suggestion, then you can leave me an audio message via my website. If you just go to, paulgreensmspmarketing.com/podcastbooks. And on there, you'll see a list of books, that have already been recommended, so you don't do a duplication, and there's a little widget that you can just leave me a very, very simple book request. I've even written a basic guidelines script, to help you know exactly what it is, that you want to say. So go on, get yourself on this podcast, go to paulgreensmspmarketing.com/podcastbooks. Voiceover: Coming up next week. Karl Palachuk: A lot of people at the beginning of the recession started saying, "well, times are hard and Karl doesn't understand, and you can't get prepaid for everything." Paul Green: That is the legend, that is Karl Palachuk. And, I'm delighted to have him on the MSP Marketing Podcast, next week. He's a prolific author. And, his new book is about the absolutely unbreakable rules for you, when you're growing and running your MSP. We're also going to look at a book about increasing your productivity. In fact, it's more focused on the habits that you have day-to-day, than it is about the bigger picture; which makes it very easy to follow, and you can make some fairly dramatic changes to your lifestyle quite quickly. We'll also be looking at whether or not, you should offer your clients discounts. And, I've got a final book suggestion from an MSP owner called Sam. He's got a cracking suggestion for you next week. So much in next week's podcast, can't wait to see you then. Voiceover: Made in the UK, for MSPs around the world. Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast.
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