Creating a Successful Managed Services Marketing Plan



Build a successful Managed Services marketing plan, which is a key component of an effective direct marketingcampaign by taking help and information from this article. 
Why create a marketing plan for selling Managed Services?
Creating and executing a direct marketing plan produces consistent, dependable lead generation results allowing the ability to forecast ROI and revenue over time, enabling steady, consistent business growth.



Creating a Successful Managed Services Marketing Plan

The downside of referral marketing

Although it is possible to receive leads solely through referrals,it is impossible to predict when these leads will come in or howfrequently. In some cases, it may be smarter NOT to take on businessfrom every referral that comes the provider’s way.
Consider the following:

  • It is difficult to effectively and profitably address thechallenges and pain points of a specific industry or vertical withoutany experience serving it
  • It is even more difficult to keep up with the challenges and changes of numerous verticals concurrently

All too often, these are the realities of accepting referralopportunities that span multiple verticals and industries, and why theconcept of vertical-specific marketing should strongly be consideredwhen developing a marketing plan.



Business growth through direct marketing

Only direct marketing to cold prospects will determine how rapidlythe provider can consistently engage new prospects, and the ability togrow their business is directly related to how effective they are atclosing these prospect opportunities. 

When direct marketing let prospects know the provider can addresstheir pain, they become interested and open to discussion, allowing thesalesperson to qualify them. It is said that the first two things asalesperson must do to close an opportunity is grab the prospect’sattention and get them interested.
The provider’s marketing efforts can simplify that task for thesalesperson and shorten the sales cycle if they are able to inform their prospects how they can address their pain through effective marketing.Marketing to a vertical that the provider can specialize in will allowtheir message to be much more effective and expedite their results asthey approach the cold market. 

How difficult is direct response marketing?

Many providers find it very difficult to execute direct responsemarketing with any consistency, simply because they are too busy tofollow a consistent and proper process. Many times business gets in theway as they struggle to support their customers, order equipment,address customer service challenges, create proposals, or deal withinternal office challenges.
Unfortunately, none of those things helps the provider insure themailing campaign gets out, or the email marketing piece is complete. Inmost cases, the provider simply does not know where to start.



Where to start

The first thing the provider must do is to identify their targetaudience – who they will be marketing to. Once that has been determined, they must understand their prospect’s vertical-specific pain points. 
This requires knowledge of the prospect’s line of business applications, workflows and vendors, along with any regulatory policies they mustcomply with. The next step is to identify the service offerings theprospect may find valuable, such as proactive patching and maintenance,managed security, helpdesk services, remote backup and disaster recovery or vendor management services and determine which to lead with duringthe marketing campaign.

It is important that the provider choose the core offerings thatbest meet their prospect’s needs and plan how to best message theirvalue in a manner they can understand easily.  Sending too muchinformation to a prospect on all of the services the provider offers can hurt their opportunities and yield a poor return on a marketinginvestment.



The next step the provider must accomplish is to create a powerfulmarketing message and compelling marketing collateral. Finally, amarketing schedule of activity must be created and executed.

Creating the marketing plan

Create compelling messaging and collateral

When creating powerful messaging it is important to understand that prospects make buying decisions for emotional reasons – emotion is theprimary reason most prospects purchase any product or service, with need a close second. 
Pain creates the emotional response that compels prospects to pickup the phone and call for help.  Words and images that illustrate theunpleasantness they are forced to experience each time they must execute a task that presents difficulty or inconvenience allows the prospect to relive those uncomfortable moments. 



Using words and images in the provider’s collateral that illustrate their ability to eliminate this pain creates the emotion thatultimately leads to an interested, qualified prospect. Choosing thecorrect verbiage that introduces a positive perspective regarding thiscapability will significantly help the provider’s sales efforts and canshorten the sales cycle. 
Lastly, it is very important to understand who the message istargeted to. The provider is not selling services to technical people.In fact, not only are most of the decision makers the provider will deal with non-technical, some are actually afraid of technology. 

Understanding this, the compelling messaging must be simple, withthe technology left out of it. Prospects engage in services forpractical reasons, so the provider must be able to demonstrate practical value to their prospects in a simple and easy to understand manner.

Distribution

Once the provider has identified the prospects they will approach,what services will be marketed to them and has created their marketingmessage, they must now develop their plan to distribute that message and determine which marketing vehicles they will utilize to do so. 
Some delivery vehicles include direct mail through letters,postcards, flyers, newsletters, brochures email, and telemarketing. Thebest success will be achieved by using a combination of these andutilizing a sales CRM solution to manage the distribution schedule andtrack results. 

Automation

A challenge many providers face is the time it takes to managemarketing campaigns, so the ability to automate as much of the processas possible is a huge benefit. Utilizing a sales CRM solution toschedule and distribute email and electronic newsletters, and launchreminders for physical mailing and telemarketing and follow-up activitywill yield the benefit of a steadily growing pipeline of newopportunities. 

The goal of managing scheduled marketing distribution throughautomation is to insure consistency and to touch prospects regularlywith some specific message and service offering.

Marketing delivery vehicles

There exist multiple mediums to deliver compelling messaging toprospects with and keep marketing touches fresh during the marketingschedule. The use of direct mail and email in a consistent manner, andalternating these with other vehicles such as monthly newsletters to let prospects and clients know about new business you’ve acquired and newsolution and service offerings is a good example of this philosophy.
Newsletters are a perfect means to illustrate the provider’sexpertise and involvement in a specific vertical, their community,events and other relevant information that can be used to buildfamiliarity and trust with their prospects.

You also want to be sure use win wires to update your prospectiveand current clients about new business opportunities won and solutionsimplemented. A win-wire is the briefest of case studies, and fits on apostcard. The influence of a win-wire is huge. Not only do win-wirescreate good PR around your company and service offerings, allowing youto leverage the herd theory as you inform the world of the new clientsyou are gaining, but it also insures that your prospects are informed of all of the services that they are delivering to satisfied customers. 

Case studies are the number one means of marketing utilized in theindustry. They create good PR for the provider and their serviceofferings, and insure that prospects are informed of all of the services that they are delivering to satisfied customers. Case studies can beposted to the provider’s website and used as leave-behinds afterprospect appointments. 

Call-downs are the most important activity to execute to follow-upon direct marketing efforts. There are some prospects that will call inas a result of regular direct marketing touches; however, most willstill need the emotional incentive brought forth by a professionalsalesperson’s calling efforts. 

Marketing vehicles

Example marketing plan forecast

Once the provider has completed determined their marketing vehicles for the campaign, they next will need to set a sales goal and createtheir marketing schedule to support reaching it. For instance, if theprovider set a sales goal of increasing their Managed Services revenueby $7,500 per month in the next quarter, and the average value of theirManaged Services Agreements is $1,500, they would need to sell 5 newManaged Services Agreements in order to reach that goal.

If the provider is able to generate proposals for better than halfof the prospects they conduct appointments with, and half of thoseproposals generate business, then it is possible to develop amathematical formula to forecast the results of marketing activity inreverse. This would mean that for the prospect to close 5 new ManagedServices Agreements, they would need to generate 10 proposals. In turn,this would mean that the provider would need to conduct 15 to 20 initial appointments. The question for the prospect now becomes how muchmarketing activity must be conducted to set between 15 and 20appointments.

In this example, and basing their strategy on generating a 3%response rate from a campaign comprised of a combination of direct mailpostcards, email marketing and call-downs delivered in a scheduledmanner, the provider determines that they will need to market to 600targeted prospects.

Conclusion

An effective Managed Services marketing plan will:

  • Create a consistent, repeatable process for successful marketing
  • Allow the provider to forecast ROI and revenue
  • Fill the provider’s sales pipeline
  • Create the capability for consistent, controllable business growth
  • Shorten sales cycles
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