Last month I got an invite to attend Hubspot’s INBOUND13 Marketing Conference in Boston, the largest inbound marketing conference in the world. Over the past few weeks of conversations with IT Service Providers, it became evident that the lessons I learned from INBOUND were right in line with some of the challenges that IT service providers face while marketing their services and businesses. In this first post of the MSP Marketing Madness blog series, we’ll collect and share marketing tips from some of the greatest minds in the world with advice on implementation into your MSP business.
Tip 1: Stop Marketing. Stop Selling. Instead, Start Connecting.
Imagine the scene when over 5,500 marketers from around the world flooded into Boston for the annual Hubspot INBOUND 13 Marketing Conference, only to hear that the greatest marketing advice from top gurus including Seth Godin, Arianna Huffington, and countless others was to, in essence, “stop marketing“.
We, as business people, must learn to be more human, solve for the human problems, and connect as humans during sales interactions. Above all else, we must humanize our brand!
The way that people consume, understand value, and make buying decisions has transformed the way that you need to market and sell your solutions. Instead of hard selling or pushing marketing messaging, start connecting with the people who buy from you and make the interaction more human by having real conversations about their daily challenges and how you can help them. At the end of the day, there is always a human behind every brand, product, or your company. Think about that the next time you’re about to press the send button on emails to your customers with a marketing slick or a datasheet.
In his keynote, Hubspot CTO and co-founder, Dharmesh Shah (@dharmesh), encouraged everyone to “try to be human for a second“, drop your traditional sales and marketing pitch, and solve the problem for the human, not just their company. Dharmesh condemned the traditional marketing tactics used by business for decades, which has been about “interrupting instead of interacting, coercing instead of connecting, and distracting instead of delighting”. He said that past marketing and sales interactions approached each customer and prospect as a number or one opportunity out of many, leading to a cookie cutter strategy for marketing and selling solutions. He suggested we listen, understand, connect, collaborate, and delight them; treat every communication touch point or conversation a connection to a human being, not as prospect. His overall message was to identify what the human problem is, and solve for that.
Why this matters to your business
Most MSPs are great at establishing this type of human connection, but as your business expands and you take on more of the market, you need to make sure you’re able to do so while maintaining consistency through your marketing efforts. Each customer’s need is different, therefore, you can’t just categorize all of your SMB clients or prospects under a single umbrella. Think of your customers not just as your consumer, but as individuals with specific needs that you need to extract from your conversations, identify opportunities where your business can be a perfect fit, and differentiate yourself by interacting on a human level as you scale your business. It’s a known fact that people do business with people they like. To get them to like you more, connecting with them at a human level and collaborate with them will allow you to develop a relationship that extends beyond the product line you just sold.
When you get a client on the phone to discuss renewing their contract, take the time to ask them what challenges they are facing and think of how your solutions can be a fit in terms of making their life better. Ask discovery questions like, “What would make your life easier?” or “what about your business causes you the most worry?” Turn each challenge they have into an opportunity to solve their human problems, not just sell them a solution. By doing so, you can build your relationship based on the connection you have understanding their business and needs. Not every customer will be a perfect fit for what you provide, but you can reach for more opportunities to upsell solutions if you really dig into what you can deliver to your customer to make their life easier.
One Final Take Away
As a marketer, sales person, technician, or whatever role you play in the MSP business, you need to interact and show your value to your customers by connecting with them, giving them something that differentiates from the competition. One way to do this is by identifying the human problem and connecting with your customers is the way to land the deal. Above all else, the single greatest differentiator for your business is, in fact, you. Solutions can be replaceable. SLA contracts can change. But, you as a person who delivers your value to your customers will remain the same. If you cannot connect with your customers, what’s to say that they won’t leave your services for someone who will?
Humanize your brand; connect with your customers to solve their pains and in turn, create a remarkable experience for them.