Episode 56: How MSPs can use QBRs to generate content
In this week's episode Your clients aren't just there to help you build the business financially. On this week's show Paul explains why they're also a valuable source of content ideas to fuel your long-term marketing strategy Plus on this week's show, you may have heard that the internet giants use A/B split testing to make their websites better at converting traffic into sales. Paul reveals how you too could do this to help get new clients And there's a fascinating conversation with a technology leadership expert - as you plan to grow and scale your MSP, find out how to improve your leadership skills to get the best out of a growing team Show notes Out every Tuesday on your favourite podcast platform Presented by Paul Green, an MSP marketing expert Paul mentioned the brilliant book They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan - listen back to Episode 35 to find out even more Find out more about Google Optimize for A/B split testing Sign up for Paul's entry-level Marketing Accelerator training Paul's special guest was technology leadership expert R Michael Anderson talking about how to truly be a better leader Many thanks to growth expert Mostyn Thomas from Astrix Cybersecurity for recommending the book Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking by Matthew Syed Please recommend a book you think will inspire other MSPs here paulgreensmspmarketing.com/podcastbooks Paul's special guest on December 15th will be MSP sales expert Paul Lloyd from Sellerly talking about how to effectively manage a sales person Please send any questions, ideally in audio-form (or any other feedback) to email@example.com Episode transcription Voiceover: Fresh every Tuesday for MSPs around the world. This is Paul Green's MSP Marketing podcast. Paul Green: Thank you for joining me for today's episode. I really appreciate your time and I've got loads of stuff to talk to you about today. Here's what's coming up on the show. R. Michael Anderson: They have to stop being the Superman or Superwoman and getting in and fixing all the problems themselves. Let go of that control and really become the director. Paul Green: We're also going to be talking about something called Google Optimize. It's a very powerful and free tool, which will allow you to make your websites much more efficient at turning web visitors into initial 15 minute appointments with prospects. We're also going to be talking about a brand new marketing program that I've just launched. It's deliberately a low cost program and very high value because it could be a great way for you and me to actually start doing some work together. Voiceover: Paul Green's MSP Marketing podcast. Paul Green: I'm a big fan of quarterly business reviews. Actually, I prefer to call them strategic reviews because I tend to find that many MSPs simply don't have the time to do them on a quarterly basis. And actually it's not really appropriate with all clients, for you to meet them every three months. But regardless of whether you call it a QBR or a strategic review, doesn't matter what its name is. The point is, it's a great idea to meet up and formerly review what's going on with every single one of your clients on a regular basis. And the real beauty for me of a review, of a strategic review, is that you are constantly having forward thinking conversations with your clients about their technology needs in the future. Paul Green: It's an insane tool for retention. It's an even more insane tool for generating monthly recurring revenue. Because as you get to know your clients better, what's happening in their heads, what's happening in their hearts and they start to trust you more, you can solve more problems for them. You can sell them more monthly recurring revenue services, which actually help them sleep better at night. Isn't that the exact definition of a win win scenario? You make some money, they don't have a problem, they sleep better at night, everybody wins. It's beautiful. Paul Green: Now here's something that's going to motivate you to do even more strategic reviews with your clients. It struck me a few weeks ago that you could actually use strategic reviews to generate content. Content for your website, content for your marketing. Back in, I think it was episode 35 back in July of this year, we were talking about one of my new favourite books. I'd only just read it at the time. It's a book called, They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan. And if you've never read this book, you really, really have to. It is perhaps the best book that I have ever read about content marketing. And in fact for the clients I'm working with now, for the MSPs I'm working with, I'm saying to them this is the very, very long term marketing strategy for them, to put in place some serious content marketing resources and to treat their business as the marketer of MSP services, rather than just being the deliverer of MSP services. Paul Green: The big problem, when you talk to an MSP about generating content is always, what do I write about? And it was while we were talking about strategic reviews, me and a number of clients a few weeks ago, I realised that all the answers for that will come out of strategic reviews. Because what is a strategic review, other than a discussion with a client about their hopes, their fears, their problems, their needs, their wants, all of the kind of stuff that you should be writing about. Because when you're generating content for your website, for your social media, wherever you put it, you're not generating content that's of interest to other MSPs. This isn't technical content. This is content that is of interest to ultimately the people that you want to influence. Ordinary decision makers, those ordinary business owners and managers. Paul Green: One of the central parts of They Ask You Answer is that you find out what it is that ordinary prospects want to know. What are the common questions that they ask? The frequently asked questions, if you like. And then you answer them with very long form content. You give them very long answers on your website to answer those questions. And QBR, strategic reviews are the perfect place to find out what those common questions are because you could do it in sales meetings, of course. And in fact, you should be doing that when you're sitting down with prospects, have your notepad open and write down the questions they ask, especially the questions that you think, yeah, everyone always asks me that one. That's a basic. That's a basic of They Ask You Answer. Paul Green: But you should also at your strategic review, write down the things that your existing clients are asking you. The things they ask you are the content cues. They are literally giving you content ideas on a plate. Now I tested this with one of the MSPs that I'm working with. He did two or three strategic reviews and literally came up with 20 ideas for content, 20 separate article ideas. Now that would cover off 20 weeks worth of marketing within his business and he is absolutely over the moon as you can expect. I've said to him now, "Don't stop. Every time you do a strategic review, keep adding to that list. Every single review will add at least two or three more new article ideas onto that list." And it will all be very, very high quality content that he can generate for his website. Paul Green: You can do exactly this. All you have to do is keep your ears open, keep your pencil sharpened on your notepad and as your client asks you something or talks to you about something that they need or that they want, write it down, it could potentially be a very good piece of content. Voiceover: Here's this week's clever idea. Paul Green: Have you ever looked at an Amazon sales page? One of the pages it lists its products on and looked at it and thought, my goodness, this is an ugly page who designed this? Because there's so much on there, isn't there? You've got reviews and you've got information and related products and other products and sponsored this and sponsored that. And it's this enormously long page with all of this information. If you've ever asked yourself, "Who designed this page?" The answer is actually facing you in the mirror. You designed that page, so did I, so did every single other person in the world who has ever bought anything from Amazon. Because Amazon, along with most of the other tech giants, designs most of its website based on what we do rather than what people think. Paul Green: Sure. Yeah, there are some web geniuses and some usability experts that will have started off Amazon in a whole series of different ways over the last 10, 15 years and come up with new ideas to try. But ultimately the things that we see today, the pages that we use to buy stuff from Amazon have been designed by us by our behaviour. And they do this through a form of something called AB split testing. Now you may have heard of this before and you may even have looked into it. AB split testing at its absolute basic, is where you take a page and then you create a copy of that page. Paul Green: Let's call the original page the A version and let's call the copy the B version. Now on the B version you change one element. Typically the place to start with this is the headline. On your A version, the headline might say, "Why you should use us for your IT support." And on the B page, which is completely identical remember to the A page, on the B page you just change that one element, the headline. You might change it to, "Here's why 182 companies in your town trust us with their IT support." And then what you do is you set up something that sends people to one of those versions of the pages. The first person visiting might see page A, the second person visiting might see page B, the third person visiting would see page A, the fourth person would see page B and so on and so on. You get the idea. Paul Green: And that's the basic principle of how an AB split test works. Because what you're looking for is which of those pages delivers a better outcome? Let's say the desired outcome from that page was that they book a 15 minute no obligation video call with you, which by the way, is a fine outcome from any webpage on your website. Let's say that it takes a 150 people visiting your page to book that 15 minute call on your A version, but it only takes a 120 people visiting that page to generate that call on your B version. Essentially your B version is more efficient. You've just found that changing that headline creates a better response, a better outcome. And this is exactly what Google, Amazon, Facebook, eBay, everyone, or all the big tech companies are doing all the time. They're constantly testing every single element of every single page to be more efficient. Paul Green: It's how Amazon and all of these other tech giants have made themselves so dominant. They've taken people's ideas about what they think will work and then they've let people's actual behaviour determine what does work. We've been doing this ourselves on our own websites over the last couple of months. I have a service, you probably know it's called the MSP Marketing Edge at mspmarketingedge.com and we deliver white label content to more than 300, think it's about 330 MSPs around the world right now. And the idea is we only sell it to one MSP per area, but you can take something like that and you can use it as your marketing content. And we have two websites. We have one for our UK audience and one for our US audience. Now we did a split test. I'm going to tell you which software we used in a second, because it's free and beautiful. Paul Green: And we did a split test and we found that the headline that works really well on the UK site is not the same headline that works really well on the US site. We've now started a series of split tests and I suspect that those two sites, which couple of months ago were virtually identical apart from obviously talked about US stuff on the US site and UK stuff on the UK one. They're now going to go off in slightly different directions because these are two completely different audiences. Clearly we need a slightly different approach for each audience. That makes sense, doesn't it? But here's the thing. I didn't know what would make a US MSP more likely to buy the service so the split testing found out for me and we will now go and test every single little element across those pages to find the most efficient way to generate sales. You can do and should do exactly the same thing with your website. Paul Green: Now, the software that we've used for this is called Google Optimize. If you just Google that phrase, it's free. It's beautiful and it does all the hard work for you. You install Google Optimize into your website and then it actually creates the duplicate pages for you. It literally couldn't be easier. It's just wonderful because it will generate that duplicate page, you can edit the headline without having to muck about with WordPress or whatever your website is built in and then Google Optimize will run the split test for you. It will do the diversion of the traffic and it will present to you at the end of the experiment, which is the winning option. Now, the only issue with this for you is the sheer lack of traffic that you get going to your website. The vast majority of MSPs get very, very small amounts of traffic and obviously you need to have a certain flow of traffic coming into your website to have something called statistical significance. Paul Green: I'm not quite sure exactly what the number is, but I've heard that you need to have at least 333 people going through your website through an experiment in order for it to have statistical significance, in order for that experiment's results to be sound. Could take you some time to get 333 people through, but it doesn't matter. Even if you only ran three or four Google Optimize tests a year, just think how much better your website is going to be in the next two to three years. Paul Green: Even if you could get one or two extra appointments booked with you over the next couple of years, wouldn't that be worth it? Isn't that worth the hassle, the 10 minutes it takes to set up Google Optimize and to set up an AB split test within your website? The answer is yes. Go and grab that software, get a test running, start with your headline, test your headline, then test your response buttons, test your pictures. There's a whole series of different elements you can test and ultimately you're going to design a website that just works better because it's based on website visitor behaviour and not just on what you think. Voiceover: Paul's blatant plug. Paul Green: Maybe you've been listening to this podcast for a while and you enjoy what it is that I talk about and my guests talk about and maybe you've thought at some point, I quite like to go and do something with Paul. I'm just not quite sure what. Well, I've introduced something called the Marketing Accelerator. It's just for MSPs and we've deliberately priced this as the lowest price entry level training program that I've ever done. And in fact, I'm going to be running this for the next 12 months. I'm going to do one new course that starts every single month. It's so low cost that I've made it almost virtually risk free for you to take part. Paul Green: What it is is five weeks of live training, all delivered over Zoom. And we jump on a Zoom call for 60 to 90 minutes every week until you've done the training. And it's all presented by me. In the first week we talk about your website. Then the next week it's LinkedIn. Week after that is about building audiences of people to listen to you. The week after that is marketing campaigns. And we finish off with a success blueprint. All the separate areas that you need to address to have an MSP that has a marketing and sales machine built into the very heart of it. As I say, we do this over five weeks, it's live training and every single month we start a new training program. Paul Green: The thing is though, it's only for 10 MSPs. December's program starts tomorrow, the 9th of December, that's full, but we still have a couple of places on January, February's and March's programs. And if you go onto my website, you can see the details of exactly when they start, what time the calls are, what dates the calls are and you'll also see that it's really, really cheap. In fact, it's only for UK MSPs, 49 pounds plus VAT and for US and anyone else in the world, it's just $69. All the details are on the website if you go to paulgreensmspmarketing.com/accelerator. Voiceover: The big interview. R. Michael Anderson: Hi, I'm R. Michael Anderson and I used to be a programmer. I got into leadership. I was a horrible leader and then I started to figure it out and now what I do is I teach other technical people like me how to become strategic, highly effective leaders and scale their business. Paul Green: Before we started this interview, Michael, you and I were talking about the things that MSP owners need to do when they go past that one million turnover mark. And if they're still keen to keep growing the business and get up to two, three, even five million. And you said to me that the difference is they have to stop thinking tactically and they have to start thinking strategically, can you explain what you mean by that? R. Michael Anderson: Yeah, absolutely. I encountered the same thing when I started my business and we got to about to the one to $2 million mark. Most of the people that run MSPs are former technical people or they were in sales and they're great tacticians. That means they're great with customers. They can figure out any technical problem by themselves. And what they run into is, is they grow their business based on their willpower or their character or their charisma and that goes only so far because at some point they have to stop being the Superman or Superwoman and getting in and fixing all the problems themselves. They have to really let go of that control and really become the director. R. Michael Anderson: And what'll happen is if there's a problem with a customer or there's a technical problem, they're going to try to have their staff handle it but then they'll jump in because their ego likes it, they're used to doing it, they want to get it fixed. And so it's really about changing their mindset and changing how almost everything that they do, how they think about each and every problem that comes across their desk, how each and every conversation with their staff or even their customers are so that they're setting themselves up to be the strategic leader and they're not drawn into every little thing that happens. They're really steering the ship. Paul Green: What you're talking about here is changing your leadership style and going from being, should we call it the dictator to being the director? Would that be a fair way of putting it? R. Michael Anderson: Yeah, it would be because it is dictator because they're probably involved in almost every little place because they've probably been a successful MSP up until this level, because they're great at controlling everything in the project. They're great at controlling everything in the sales process. They're great and they have this thirst for control, because that's brought them success in the past. Now it's about realising that they have to empower their team to create other leaders in the team so that they don't have to take on as much responsibility. And you still want to direct and you still want to have the checks and balances in there, but that's really what a director does. A dictator that, that's cool, Paul, I never heard it and it says a fun thing to do it is, they have their hands in every single thing. And that's a big mindset shift. It takes faith, it takes courage and it also takes tools and skills. And it's really fun to watch people start to get that because really their whole world changes. Paul Green: Let's talk about the practicalities. Specifically what can you do as the leader of a business to shift into that different mindset and to work with your management team and with your staff in a different way? R. Michael Anderson: You got to keep in mind your goal is to build a team that pretty much can do everything that needs to be done. Anything that comes across your desk, so that means every email, every phone call, to me you want to think as the boss and as a leader, how can I set my team up for success so that they either handle this? Or that I teach them the next time that this comes across my desk, their own thought process, or how to go through it? And really leaders need to learn coaching skills and what I mean by coaching skills and I actually had an MSP that really recently went through one of my trainings. People would come into his office with something to do and he would sort of bark orders at them or what he would do is just tell them exactly how to do it. R. Michael Anderson: And once he learned these coaching skills, people would come in and he would say, "Well, what do you think we should do?" And then they would tell him, and this is the coaching skills and he might say, "Well, if you do that, what about if this happens and this happens?" He's really teaching them how to think. He's empowering them with the responsibilities of how to do this the next time and the next time and the next time. And if you really want to be at the top of the pyramid and a bigger pyramid, you really need the people that are going to be underneath you to take control of all these little things. Paul Green: But that's down to you to make that happen, isn't it? R. Michael Anderson: It absolutely is. And again, it's going against your programming as it is because again, I think I'm sounding like a broken record because you're used to taking ownership of everything. And now what you want to do is you want to teach people how to take ownership, but also you want to make sure that they have the backup. It's a bit of an art, because if I have somebody working for me and they come in, I want to give them some slack, but I don't want them to drown themselves. And so it's checking in with them, not micromanaging, but hey, how's it going? Maybe let's do a short check in, maybe checking in with the customer so that they don't cause any big problems, but also that you're there to get their back and to make sure that they are there to succeed. Paul Green: Let's circle back to the practical things that you can do. Let's imagine you've got someone listening to this today and they're thinking, do you know what? This is me. I really want to change my style. I want to have my team responding to me in that kind of way. Give us two or three things that any MSP owner or leader could do tomorrow that would start to make a difference to the way that they work with their team and start to enter that more director relationship. R. Michael Anderson: Sure. Well, let's talk about delegation because I work with a lot of people and the leaders they say, "Well, I should delegate this, but I can't." Well, first of all, you can. Don't ever say you can't delegate anything. And when I dig into it, normally when it comes to delegation, I asked him how delegation went in the past. As leaders, we have so much responsibility and then somebody comes that is reasonably responsible and then we have this task and what we do is we just give it to them without an integration plan, without documentation, without support, we just dump it on them. And then they don't do it as well or as fast as we would do it and so we get frustrated and we're like, and we say, "Oh my gosh, this is really important so I better do it." R. Michael Anderson: You got to realise with delegation, that should be a well thought out process and so your delegation plan should go over, depends on the task, but it should go over days or weeks. And it should be gradual with a lot of small check ins for feedback so that the person really feels supported. Great strategic leadership is about being proactive and it's about, for example, spending extra time teaching that person how to do that job so you never have to do it again. Or spending a couple weeks making sure it's a smooth handover. Or for example, when you get new people into your organisation, whether they're high level or low level to really have an onboarding process, because if you spend time onboarding them, not just with the tools and the skills, but also with your culture and your values. As a leader, you should be spending a couple hours with each new hire, if not a day, just teaching them about your thought processes and your values. And if you do that, they are going to be so much more engaged than if you don't invest that time. Voiceover: Michael, tell us a little bit more about the work that you do with MSPs and give us your website address. R. Michael Anderson: Yeah. It's rmichaelanderson.com and my name is Michael Anderson, but I realised it's too common of a name to Google so I put my first name, Robert. That's how you remember rmichaelanderson.com. And what I do is I teach what I call the Growth Leadership System, which has three areas. The one is becoming more of a strategic leader. And so what that is, is like we just talked about, how to be more influential, how to coach your employees and empower them more. The second is to creating a high performing team, because there's a lot of tools and skills that people might not know to really create an amazing culture and then get the most out of people. And the third is on mindset. I have a Master's in psychology so to me, mindset is the most fun, but it's about how to have that true confidence. It's so overcoming the imposter syndrome to having that true confidence, having that resilience, having that leadership presence that people are drawn to and they follow and they respect. R. Michael Anderson: And if you do go to rmichaelanderson.com, I have a really cool leadership type quiz that you click on the button. You'll see when you get to the website, you answer eight questions and it'll tell you your leadership type and it will tell you your strengths and it'll talk about a couple of your blind spots, which I think is really important for people to know, because you want you to play to your spots and overcome some of those blind spots. Voiceover: Paul Green's MSP Marketing podcast. Voiceover: This week's recommended book. Mostyn Thomas: My name is Mostyn Thomas from Astrix Cybersecurity and I recommend the book, Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking by Matthew Syed. Rebel Ideas offers a radical blueprint for creative problem solving and innovation. It challenges hierarchies, encourages constructive dissent and forces us to think again about where the best ideas come from. Introducing the concept of cognitive diversity, the book explores the ability of how to think differently about the world around us. Probably something really useful right now. It's not a business improvement book, it's a study on how you think and innovate, which could have huge impacts on your business, your team and your family. This book is also full of superb stories to back up the theories, which you'll be retailing to your friends. It's an excellent read and well worth a try. Voiceover: How to contribute to the show. Paul Green: Whatever you think of this week's show, I'd love to get your feedback. Why don't you drop me an email and it will be actually me personally at the end, replying to you. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Voiceover: Coming up next week. Paul Lloyd: Long as they can get that firmly fixed in their minds, then they grow. Paul Green: That's Paul Lloyd. He's an MSP sales expert based here in the UK and he'll be telling you next week, how you can build a sales team for your business. We're also going to be talking next week about analogies. There are some very simple analogies that you can use to explain difficult technical concepts to the ordinary business owners and managers that you want to reach. We've got a book suggestion from a member of my team, his name is James, and he works with me on the MSP Marketing Edge Service. He's got a cracking book suggestion for you next week and I have the most clever idea to tell you about. It's something that you can send to people in the post. It's quite expensive, but it has more impact than anything else you could possibly send them. It's a beautiful idea and I'm really looking forward to telling you about it in next week's show. See you then. Voiceover: Made in the UK for MSPs around the world, Paul Green's MSP Marketing podcast.