There isn’t a day that goes by in my line of work as a marketing consulting that I don’t hang up the phone and shake my head, wondering if the person I just spoke with actually has an idea of what makes them truly unique in our blood red ocean of competition.
The race to the bottom is now turned into a marathon with MSPs regurgitating the same messaging again and again. We are truly close to the true measurement of insanity: doing the same things over and over – all the while expecting different results.
Many managed services providers believe that they hold the patent on client service, that they are the only ones truly committed to the well being of their clients, and that their truly flat rate service is a differentiator. Guess what? This might come as a surprise… but it’s not.
MSPs are aware of this, well, at least we hope they are. Why are they not doing something about it? Well, that is a great question.
How can MSPs stand out from the competition? Two words – SOCIAL PROOF.
Social proof is very important when it comes to winning new business opportunities. Social proof breaks down walls that exist between the service provider and an identified future client. Social proof relates to current or past challenges a future client has experienced. And of course, social proof demonstrates the MSPs ability to take care of the needs of their clients.
What is social proof? Social proof is anything that you intentionally put out there as part of your marketing and sales efforts that demonstrates your ability to take care of a client in any technical situation. Social proof is not something the marketing team conjures up in the boardroom, social proof comes from your clients. It is evidence that you can do the job and you have a client endorsing it.
Here are some basic examples of social proof that you can use every day in your managed services business:
- The Case Study – A case study is very simple to do and requires very little time to do properly. A well-executed case study can be done in about two to three hours. Most MSPs fail to do case studies, citing “lack of time” as the reason. Actually, it is “lack of priority” that is the main reason case studies are never started, let alone completed. A case study can be the reason why you get the deal or why your MSP is chosen over another competitor; social proof in the form of a case study is something your managed service provider must do each week.
- Project Overviews – A project overview is just like a case study, however, project overviews are used in situations where a client can’t be identified. When this happens, we use the industry and location versus the company name. Ex: “A law office in Denver had this issue…” Project overviews are not as powerful as case studies simply because they lack the identification factor that make the case study the best social proof out there.
- The Testimonial Letter – Back in my days with IT Matters, we used testimonial letters as part of our marketing efforts. Did I mention that IT Matters was a $5.5M MSP with 34 employees and that we grew this business in just 7 ½ years to this level? Trust me folks, this stuff works. We also wrote our own testimonial letters and had our clients sign off on them, pretty gutsy, well actually, it wasn’t.
- Testimonial Videos – Now this is simply amazing. Testimonial videos are very powerful when it comes to your overall marketing efforts. Testimonial videos are used everywhere. As part of your 17 steps MSP sales process, on your website, and in all of your marketing. Once again, many MSPs balk at the thought of doing a simple testimonial video. Here is my suggestion, whip out your smartphone and do a short interview with your client.
Fear, is the biggest limiter when it comes to not pursing social proof. It’s the fear of rejection or the fear of competition stealing your business. These fears are just in your head. If you ever lose a client because someone reached out to get a testimonial or case study client…well, you have bigger problems. Try looking at your client services team before looking at that case study published on your website.
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by simply taking action and putting together a plan to maximize social proof in your managed services business.
Stuart Crawford is the founder of Ulistic, a marketing services firm for managed services providers.