A Definitive Guide to MSP


MSPs are struggling to market effectively but not for much longer. Ditch the specs and bites and pick up a pack of crayons.

Updated: October 10, 2017

Table of Contents

Marketing throughout time

Over the decades, marketing has become this black hole of everything and anything.  Really weird, off-the-wall ideas will work for one business, but they won’t for another.  Extremely boring, used-up trends will become the hottest new thing, while exciting and innovative ones will fizzle out long before they even get started.

Where we used to have just printed ads and maybe a few radio spots, we’ve now transitioned to a world where marketing refuses to settle down to one or two key areas.  These days, we’re putting down and selling out for print, radio, TV, telemarketing, even more print, even more TV, search marketing, blogging, social media… you can actually view a rather lovely infographic of all of that right here, courtesy of Hubspot.

But thanks to the evolution and overall weirdness of marketing, the general public has been introduced to some rather interesting ideas, activities, products, companies, and a whole lot of other… things.  Like Poo-Pourri for one.

This specific product goes without explaining but was made extremely successful partially due to a social media campaign.  Their viral videos revolved around a woman… sitting on a toilet… talking about ‘toilet-esque’ things.  The videos were so strange that people thought they were being pranked.  But towards the end of the videos, when the woman sitting on the toilet actually says, “This isn’t a joke,” people were asking, “Well, where do we buy?”

Then there was that commercial for Heineken’s walk-in refrigerator.  The commercial itself was entertaining and well-done but then, Heineken decided to take things a bit further.  They built a mobile walk-in refrigerator.  They took this classy contraption on the road with them and allowed groups of individuals to recreate the popular Heineken commercial.

Whatever works, right?


What does this mean for an MSP?

Absolutely nothing… but everything at the same time.

As a managed service provider, you don’t have a sexy job, and you don’t sell a totally awesome product.  You’re a nerd, and what you sell is incredibly boring and hard to explain to the average person – which means you can’t build a walk-in refrigerator stocked with beer and expect to win every presentation.

Well, actually, maybe you can.  Maybe you should try that.

But even then, a signed agreement doesn’t center on one person entirely.  You’re selling your solution to another business, and every business won’t be full of people who like beer.  In other words, a signed agreement hinges on multiple people with different preferences, personal experiences, and opinions.  And in other other words, you have to please the masses simultaneously in order to wield the power of a signed check.  Knowing how to do that successfully makes you more powerful than Gandalf, Yoda, and Harry Potter combined.

After all is said and done, your job is not an easy one… especially when you consider the fact that you have to market this dreadfully dull offering before you even have the chance to fail at pitching it to a group of individuals who still don’t know what the cloud is.  So then the question ultimately becomes: How do you, as an MSP, market your boring business, your individual and totally not sexy solutions, and your completely confusing offering as a whole?


It all starts with a strategy.

But before we move on, let’s go over the common challenges MSPs encounter when marketing their solutions:

  1. Your solutions and offering as a whole are difficult things for the average person to understand and visualize. It’s not something most people can explain successfully in a short email.
  2. Managed services is not cheap, and it is contractual. And since it’s not fast and shiny like a new car, justifying this purchase can be a journey to another world and back.
  3. Every MSP within the same county offers the same solutions, with the same guarantees, and within the same basic price range. Making yourself look different from the competition can be near impossible.

Overcoming those hurdles is easy.  Well… sort of.

Before you can craft that strategically strategic marketing strategy, you must overcome those common hurdles that MSPs face when it comes to marketing their solution.  And overcoming those hurdles… well, let’s just say, the struggle is real.  But if we really overanalyze this, it’s more about learning how to consistently incorporate a few specific elements into your marketing strategy.


When it comes to marketing for an MSP, the core ingredient is consistency.  Can you stick with a marketing drip campaign for an entire year?  Keeping up with the calls?  Remembering to mail out the postcards?  Tracking the click rates and managing the undeliverables?  This specific type of marketing calls for gradual touches over a long period of time – but all of those touches will be for nothing if you can’t stick with it.


People respond to and interact with marketing material differently. Not everyone will open an email. Not everyone will pick up a phone call. Not everyone will read a flyer. Not everyone will follow you on social media. Because of this, it’s incredibly important to engage prospects in every single way just mentioned.


IT is a difficult subject for the average person to wrap their head around, which means you need to find a logical way to pitch your solutions and services in the simplest way possible. Can the typical business professional understand – for the most part – what your solution can do for their company and why it’s such a critical component? They don’t need to hear about bytes and specs. What they need to hear about is what problems you can and will solve for them. The ‘how’ is not as important.


No matter how great your marketing ideas are, they won’t go anywhere if you aren’t marketing to the right groups. Are you targeting companies that have too many employees? Are you marketing to leads who don’t generate enough annual revenue? Are you sending material to a business that already has a well-oiled internal IT department? The more targeted you get with both your leads and your marketing material, the more successful – and cost-effective – your efforts will be.


As an MSP, you’re marketing to other business professionals.  And this a good thing.  Why?  Because this means you don’t have to get out-of-this-world creative to make an impact.  At the same time, however, you still want to differentiate yourself and be somewhat creative.  Take some chances experimenting with the problems these companies face on a daily basis – but in a simple, straightforward, and easy-to-understand kind of way.

Putting all those pieces together

We know what the hurdles are and we know how to overcome those hurdles.  Now, it’s time to actually do it.  To market like you’ve never marketed before.  But what form does this take?  Quite a few.  Here are some of the heavy hitters.


From one-offs to marketing campaigns, emails still matter, and depending on how well you craft your content, they can make a huge difference.  These bad boys need to be short and sweet, yet impactful and eye-catching.  The main goal of an email is to build curiosity.  In other words, don’t give away the farm.



When it comes to modern marketing, websites are a must.  But this doesn’t call for just any website… you need a good one.  One with keywords, meta descriptions, high-quality images, and user-friendly content.  Your website should be easy to navigate, easy to read, easy to get to, and just easy in general.  And you CAN.NOT.FOR.GET to monitor your website’s analytics.


Social Media

It’s easy to write off social media as a forgettable factor of your marketing efforts.  But this would be a mistake.  If you’re not on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and every other social platform out there, someone else will be.  And that someone else?  Well, that’d be your competition.


Physical Mailers

People respond to things differently – which means you need to hit marketing on many levels to be effective.  Physical mailers are a great way to break apart from the monotony of online content.  A funny or dramatic postcard, even a branded pen or magnet – these items can be more impactful than you might realize… mainly because they stick around longer than an email does.



Online Content

Social media and your website are critical components of your online content, but you need more than that.  You need to blog; you need a newsletter, and you might even need a few webinars or informational whitepapers thrown in the mix.  However, there should be strategy behind all of this content – which means you don’t do things for the heck of it.  Everything ties into each other for a very specific reason.

How to get help building your strategy

With us.  Here.  At CharTec.  That’s how you can get help building, perfecting, and implementing your marketing strategy.  Here’s how you can do that:

  1. Explore our blogs and receive more in-depth knowledge on the content touched within this article.
  2. Attend one of our Academies and hear from CharTec’s marketing team directly.
  3. Become a CharTec Member and benefit from monthly webinars, a repository of custom-created marketing material, and the ability to ask the CharTec team anything you need answered.