Episode 61: SPECIAL: Your MSP’s 5 marketing priorities for 2021
In this week's special episode Time to stop faffing and start focusing on the things that will make a REAL difference in your MSP! As we start what could be a very different new year, Paul presents the 5 most important things you need to focus on Join Paul for this special episode in which he discusses how to conquer 2021 with the best mindset, daily actions, website, social media, digital footprint and more Show notes Out every Tuesday on your favourite podcast platform Presented by Paul Green, an MSP marketing expert In this special podcast Paul mentioned the following books... The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber Built To Sell by John Warrillow Atomic Habits by James Clear The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan Find out more about Paul Green's MSP Marketing Edge Looking ahead to February's podcasts, Paul mentioned he'll have special guests from productivity tools Timeular and Todoist Please send any questions, ideally in audio-form (or any other feedback) to firstname.lastname@example.org Episode transcription Voiceover: Fresh every Tuesday for MSPs around the world. This is an MSP Marketing Podcast special. Paul: Hello and welcome to the first of three MSP Marketing specials designed to help your business and really get the most out of 2021. I've pulled together three subjects that I think are critical for any MSP to master, and I want to focus on those throughout January's podcasts. Paul: Now in two weeks time we're going to be talking about LinkedIn, why it's the world's best prospecting database and why you should be spending more time on it every day. Next week we'll be talking about your website, because it is the most important marketing basic to get right. But this week we're going to start by looking at what your five marketing priorities should be for 2021. Voiceover: This is an MSP Marketing Podcast special. Paul: Before we start talking about your five marketing priorities this year, let's just take just a few minutes just to look back at last year, the crazy year, what actually happened. I believe we saw five to ten years of change happen in just six months. From March last year up to about September, huge amounts of change happened, not just in the world of technology and of course everyone moving to work from home, but just in general in business. Look at what's happened to retail and hospitality, and look at what's happened to businesses like Amazon, and words like pivots suddenly became so important because people literally had to pivot to doing things in new ways. Otherwise, there was no survival for them. This wasn't so much your business as it was your client's businesses, and things are only going to get more and more interesting as we go through this year. Paul: Now I have no idea what's going to happen this year. You don't either really. I know we've got this vaccine coming up, but I think we've also got potentially the great recession, because there's a huge economic impact to what happened last year, partly because our government spent so much money to try and spend their way to keeping the economy together, but also this massive impact on businesses. As with any recession, there will be some loses and there will be some even bigger winners. Paul: I don't know about you, but I want to be one of those winners this year. In fact, I think most MSPs are going to be in a great position to be winners because we did prove that IT was a critical business function. People knew that before, but they didn't realise it when it was difficult to work from home and particularly if they had a bad MSP. That was when it really, really became obvious to them that good IT is more important than absolutely anything. Paul: So I think the kind of rapid change that we saw last year will continue at a certain pace this year. It creates opportunity, and opportunity is an amazing thing because it allows a small number of people, entrepreneurs, business owners, just ordinary people like you and me to look at that opportunity and to grab it with both hands and to really go with it. This isn't about luck you know. This has got nothing to do with luck at all. This is about being prepared. Paul: There was a Roman philosopher called Seneca, and he was quoted as saying, "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." That's so true, isn't it? It's such a great phrase. Paul: Now we know that the answer to this cannot be that you must just work harder. I know you're already maxing out the number of hours that you're working, and actually working more hours is very rarely the answer. Well it's the answer to being found dead at your desk if that's the ending you want, and none of us want that kind of ending. Paul: As a quick side note, in February we're going to have a whole month focused on productivity, but with a normal podcast in February, but all of our guests are from companies that will help you to increase your productivity. I've got some great interviews lined up with the founder of Timeular. I've got someone from Todoist coming on, and a man who runs a company with hundreds and hundreds of virtual assistants. Anyway, all of that's coming up in February. Paul: So the answer can't be to work harder. I think what we've got to do is we've got to work almost a little bit smarter. I know it's a bit of a cliche, isn't it, saying you've got to work smart but not hard. But it's true. It's absolutely true. It's about making sure that you personally are doing only the things that only you in the business can do, because I think the dream of every business owner inside our world and outside our world, is a business that thrives. Not just survives but thrives, whether you personally are there or not. Paul: So you then have the choice. You have a choice of whether you get involved in technical work or not. You have a choice of whether you spend time with your team or out on the golf course or water skiing or swimming with sharks or whatever it is that you want. A lot of this comes from putting in place a marketing machine. In fact, making the most of the opportunity that this year is going to present to us is about putting in place the machine and all the different cogs of that machine that will help you to be prepared to leverage that opportunity. So you might lose seats and maybe even some clients this year, but you can win far more than you lose if you've got the marketing machine, and the MSPs that systematically and consistently win new clients and new seats and are upselling their existing clients are the ones that have put in place a marketing machine. Paul: That leads us on to what I believe your five marketing and business growth priorities should be for the first couple of months of this year, and the first of those is to get the right mindset. You've got to think the right way. For that, I'm going to recommend a couple of books which I believe I've recommended on the podcast before, but they are the best reads to remind you why you're in business and also why the business exhausts you. Paul: The first of them is called The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. Now this was written some time ago. We're talking, I think it was late 80s, early 90s. But even though it's quite an old book and it was written about a fictitious bakery and a fictitious hotel, you'll read this book and you'll think, "How has this guy figured out what's going on in my head? How does he know the torment inside as I'm running my business and how I feel about my staff and why I want to kill everyone sometimes?" It really is a great book. Paul: The E-Myth on the cover is the entrepreneurship myth, and the myth is that you have this entrepreneurial seizure where you think, "I've got to work for myself. I've got to sit at business," and it's all hunky dory and you can solve everything just by working harder and of course you can't. Paul: We've all been through what he lists in the book where we start our own business and everything's great until we get busy and we start to take people on. That's when quality, the quality suffers, and he talks about putting in place a franchise model, which you would also know as an operations manual systemising the business so that you can keep the quality high but also go and have a life and take holidays and enjoy time with your children. Paul: Now there's a more up-to-date version of this which was written within the last five or six years or so, and that's called Built to Sell by John Warrillow. It's a great book. It really is. It's very much a version of The E-Myth Revisited with very similar suggestions and outcomes. But I think the story, the fictitious story that John Warrillow uses to tell his tale and tell about how every business should be built so that it can be sold one day is a very interesting tale and I quite like. It's a comfort book for me. Sometimes I'll just pull that off the bookshelf and reread it and you always get something new, don't you, something you remember from a book that you've read before, but that really is highly recommended. Paul: Now the fictitious story in that book is an advertising agency. But it could as well be about an MSP, it really could, as it looks at making things standard, standardising everything, systemising everything, and making sure that everything isn't built around the owner. So your first action is to go and get the right marketing mindset. It's not just marketing mindset, the right mindset for running your business really. Paul: The second thing I suggest you do in the next few months is to get the right daily actions. You might think, "Well Paul, what's this got to do with marketing?" This has got everything to do with marketing, it really has. Because the things that you do or don't do on a daily basis directly affect your ability to get to the lifestyle that you want to lead. Paul: When I start working with a new MSP, one of the things I often, not always, but often ask them to do is to tell me about their vision for their life. The vision is their intangible thing. They can't say exactly what it is, but they know roughly they want to do. Paul: Like I know I want a holiday home somewhere abroad. I don't know if that's going to be Italy, Spain, France, Greece. I know I've got a picture in my head and it's actually on my vision board. There's a picture of a lovely holiday home, which I found on the internet. It's got palm trees. It's got a large, heated outdoor pool. There's going to be barbecues. There's going to be a rioja. It's going to be amazing. I don't know where that is and how it's going to happen. Doesn't need to be that tangible. It's an intangible vision in my mind. Paul: I know I want to start a charity and give back and do some good. I know I want to be a fiction writer. There are lots and lots ... Oh, scuba diving as well, scuba diving is a massive one for me. That goes hand in hand with the holiday home. That dictates whereabouts the holiday home needs to be. But you get the idea. I don't know the details of these things, but I know the intangibles. I know that this is where I want my life to go. Paul: For that reason, I've put together some goals for my business, which if I achieve those goals will feed into that vision. Because all of those things that I was talking about there require time and money. I need money to pay for them, and I need time to enjoy them. If you're working 60 hours a week, you can't go scuba diving because you'll drown because you'll be tired. Paul: So the smart goals that I've put together for my business, where of course smart is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time bound, it's got a time limit to it, those smart goals for my business this year. If I achieve those, I get closer to my vision and that's very, very specifically designed and you should be doing exactly the same thing in your business. Paul: Now once you're very clear on your goals, you then need a strategy to achieve those goals. My experience is once you're clear on the goals, the strategy to achieve them actually works itself out. It's the same with the tactics to implement the strategy. Once you're clear on the strategy, the tactics are very clear to work out. Paul: Now what's the difference between strategy and tactics? A strategy is almost like the plan of attack and the tactics are the specific details. So if you were driving somewhere the strategy would be to stick to fast motorways or freeways, whereas the tactics will be the specific motorways or freeways that you use. Tactics change. Strategies don't change so often and goals very rarely change. The goal is the destination where you're going. If all the motorways or freeways are full, then you would change your strategy to going on to lesser roads, but the goal, the destination never really changes. Paul: So we've got vision for your life, which feeds into the smart goals for your business, which feeds into a strategy to achieve the goals, which feeds into tactics to implement the strategy. Then once you've got the tactics, it comes down to daily actions, the things that you do every day to implement the tactics. That's why the things that you do or don't do every day directly link to the vision for your life. If you're not getting the lifestyle that you want year after year after year, it's because you're not taking the right actions every day. Paul: I know, for example, a big part of my strategy, a huge part, is creating content. Creating content and building a relationship with my multiple audiences on this podcast, on my phone Facebook group, which has got more than 1000 MSPs in it now, on my email list, which is more than 2000 people, on my LinkedIn, which is 4500 people, and of course there'll be some crossover between those audiences. But a major part of my strategy this year, as it was for last year, is creating high quality content. That's what I'm doing right now. Paul: As I'm standing here recording this, there are many other things in my business that need to be done. There are tasks that I need to d o, but I prioritise creating this content because it's a key part of my strategy. The podcast is a tactic to implement that strategy, and my daily action, the first thing I've done today is to record this podcast because that daily action is a critical part to me of getting to the vision of the life that I want to get to. So it's worth you asking yourself, "What are you doing on a daily basis that helps you to achieve your business's goals and get to that vision?" Paul: There is a book I can recommend. It's called Atomic Habits by James Clear. A really good book about how we force ourselves to do stuff every day. He talks in that book about how it doesn't really matter whether you've got goals or not. Your success comes more from what you do or don't do every day, and you can trick your brain into doing things. It's a very, very good book. Paul: We did ask James to come onto the podcast in February and he said, no. I just wanted to put that out there in the public. I'm not bitter about it at all, not in any way. It's still a very, very good read and I will get him on the podcast in the future. You watch, I'm going to pester him every day until he says, yes. Paul: Now number three after getting the right daily actions is to get the right delight systems. What do I mean by delight systems? I mean looking after your existing business. Because here's the thing, when you're busy out there looking for new business, sometimes it's very, very easy to forget about your existing business. Yet the greatest source of new net profit in your business is going to come from your existing clients. Paul: So you need to put some delight systems in place so you can constantly build trust with your existing clients. Reinforce their comfort zone. Now what do I mean by comfort zone? Well everyone has a comfort zone. It's where we're comfortable. But we want to be comfortable. We're driven. It's a very deep, psychological level to be comfortable. Because if we're not comfortable, then we know that we're in some kind of danger. We don't like it. Humans are driven to be comfortable. What makes people comfortable? Consistency makes them comfortable. A warm feeling, the feeling that people are happy, that someone's looking out for them, that they're part of something. All of these things make people feel comfortable. Paul: How do you help your clients to feel comfortable? If they submit a ticket and hear nothing for four hours, does that make them feel comfortable? No, it makes them feel angry. When they feel angry, they're moving out of their comfort zone. This is how relationships start to break down between clients and MSPs. It's all about communication. If someone logs a ticket and they get a phone call ten minutes later from someone saying, "Hi there. Just to let you know, I've got the ticket. Thank you very much for that. I can see that's a real problem. We'll get that fixed." Paul: Now the MSP, you can then do nothing for three hours if you want to, but if you've already communicated to them that you've acknowledged their ticket, their problem and you're on it, as far as they're concerned, they're comfortable with it. In fact, this is how you buy yourself two hours to not work on that ticket. Paul: You also need to make it painless for them to get what they need, and fun and easy to get what they want, and what people need is what their brain decides they need. I need a new laptop. What they want is what their heart wants. I want the new 1800 pound laptop or whatever it is that they want. We've got to make it easy for our clients to spend money. It's not down to us to decide when they're ready to spend money or not. We've got to make it very easy for them. Paul: This is the power of QBRs, quarterly business reviews, or strategic reviews as I prefer to call them. It's the power of sitting down with your clients, looking at the future, mapping out their technology roadmap for the next 6 to 12 months or so and letting them decide when they want to buy new toys. Because we all love new toys. The clients do as well. They might not understand technology, but they understand how they feel when they get a new shiny laptop. So let's make it fun and easy for them to get what they want. Paul: Now there is a great book about this, because what we're really talking about here is systemising. We're talking about systemising and having standard operating procedures for your delivery staff, for your technical guys, to delight the clients. The best book on this is called The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. He talks about aviation and medicine and how any business, and especially yours, can checklist itself into being a very solid business. Paul: Now you might think it's weird that of these five marketing priorities, the first three I've talked about aren't to do with marketing at all. But actually they really, really are. Because you getting the right mindset for how you want to grow the business and getting the right daily actions in place, and of course getting the right systems, all of those things need to be in place before you can start really adding new clients. Because there's no point adding new clients if your delivery is haphazard, if you can't keep those clients, if you can't systematically delight people and know what it is that you're working towards. That's why it's only my fourth priority for you this year, is to get the right kind of marketing. Paul: Now there are a number of things that you need to look at, and the first one is your website. Your website's so important. In fact, we're going to dedicate all of next week's podcast to looking at your website and everything you need. Paul: Your second priority is social media, especially LinkedIn. Again, LinkedIn is so important that in two weeks we're going to dedicate the whole podcast to looking at LinkedIn. Paul: It's also worth you looking at your overall digital footprint. Google your company name in inverted commas so you're getting just the exact matches of that company name, and then go on every single page. You probably have about eight or nine pages of Google results. They won't all be relevant, but look on every single one. The chances are you'll find something you didn't know was there. Might be something you need to fix or it might be something you're horrified that that information is out there or there's a re there's a bad review on some platform from two years ago that you didn't even know about. Do go and have a look at that. Paul: The next thing you need to focus on is website traffic and also website conversion. In fact, traffic and conversion go hand in hand. Traffic these days is not free. You either have to pay for it in cash or in time. Someone somewhere has to work very hard at driving traffic or you just throw money at it, and I don't mean Google Ads. Google Ads are not right for the vast majority of MSPs. I'm talking about spending your money maybe on some Facebook advertising, maybe some LinkedIn advertising, or maybe paying someone to post in forums for you or create content for you or that kind of stuff. There's lots and lots that you can do to drive traffic. My experience is that most MSPs, even when they get their websites sorted, they simply don't do enough to generate enough traffic. If you don't have traffic coming to your website, how are people ever going to know that you're there? Paul: Another thing you need on your website is an absolute flood of social proof. So social proof, I mean case studies, testimonials and reviews, and it's called social proof because most people prefer to do what most other people are doing. So let's show them what most other people are doing and whatever testimonials and case studies you've got on your website, do more. Get more videos, get more photos of clients, get more written testimonials, take screenshots of reviews and just acknowledge where they came from. You cannot have too much social proof spread, not just across your website, but across all of your marketing. Paul: Finally, getting to a culture of answering their questions. There's a great book about this. In fact, it's one of the best books I read last year and I'm rereading it and I've listened to it again on audible this year, because we're starting to implement it in our business. It's called They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan, and I believe for the vast majority of MSPs, it is your long-term marketing strategy. Paul: You see, most of what I talk about and what I teach is outbound marketing. It's where you find audiences of people, you build a relationship with them, and then you commercialise those audiences. But it involves you doing stuff. You have to be pushing stuff out, which is why it's outbound. Paul: I think They Ask You Answer is how you create inbound marketing, where you're creating such good in-depth, long-form content for your website that eventually, and it does take some time, eventually you'll get so much inbound traffic because you've doing so well in organic Google search results, that that completely changes your need to do so much outbound. I think it's a three to five-year investment for most MSPs. The vast majority won't do it, which is great because those that do do it will really, really do well from it. So go and get that book, They Ask You Answer. Listen to it and implement it knowing that it's going to take you three to five years to get a return. But once you get return, you will really, really enjoy exceptionally good results from your marketing. Paul: The final one for you is to get the right team. Again, you might not think this is a marketing priority, but my goodness it is. The number of MSPs that I work with and have worked with who are held back by frankly, B-team players. There's no room for B-team team players in your business. There's only room for A-team players. Paul: I'm very lucky in this business. Actually, no, it's not luck. It's through design. I am surrounded wholly by A-team players. Mostly they're people that I've worked with before so I know them inside and out and therefore I know it's going to be a pleasure to work with them again and they are A-team players, every single one of them. It's made a substantial difference to our business in the last year or so, bringing back some of the A-team players that I've worked with before and integrating them into our business. Some of the big things that we've been able to do is because we have those A-team players. Paul: They're expensive. Of course they're expensive, because A-team players command a greater reward than B-team players do because they're more valuable. But believe me, it's worth every single penny or cent that you spend on A-team players. Paul: What if tomorrow you could legally fire every single member of your team? I realise in America you can do that, can't you? But certainly in the UK you can't. What if tomorrow you could legally fire every single member of your team and only hire back the ones that you really wanted? Can you think now about a member or members of your team that you wouldn't hire back? Those are your B players it's very likely. Even if they are exceptionally good with performance, there'll be something that makes them an absolute pain and enter your mind right now as someone that you would not hire back. Don't say their name out loud if you're listening to this podcast in the office because that will be quite awkward for everyone. Paul: But you really should make a mental note or write down somewhere that this year they have to go. You've got to line up their replacement and they have to go. There is no room for B players in your business. This absolutely is a marketing priority, because B players hold you back and it's really is time for them to go. Voiceover: Coming up next week ... Paul: As I promised earlier, we're going to be taking a deep dive into one of the most critical elements of your marketing. It's your website. Your website is the single most important thing to get right, and next week we're going to go in depth and have a look at everything that you need to do to get your website as good as it could possibly be. See you next week. Voiceover: Made in the UK for MSPs around the world, Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast.