MSP Marketing Series: Product Marketing 101
Managed and other IT Service Providers who want to differentiate themselves from an increasingly crowded field need to find new ways to engage and entice prospective buyers. We’ve put together a special Marketing Series to help you navigate MSP marketing from soup to nuts. Today’s focus will be on product marketing, and how to turn your services into solutions.
What does product marketing mean in the MSP space?
Product marketing has four main components: understanding the market, your customers and your product; taking a product to market; enabling internal teams; and optimizing product adoption. As an MSP, you need to figure out what your customers’ needs are (pain points, compliance requirements, etc.), and then marry that with your service offerings to create solutions that solve for those pain points. Think of product marketing as trying to deeply understand your customer and translate something complicated, like managed services, into something they can easily understand. Always focus on ‘Who is the customer?’ and ‘What is their problem?’ and position yourself as the solution.
Another way to think about it is, your product and feature set is the endpoint, not the start point. Ultimately, your product as an MSP is a solution to a problem, so start with the problem and then work your way back to the solution. This puts the customer first and allows you to back into talking about your product in a natural way that demonstrates its value in helping them solve their problems.
Simplify the way you talk about your services to highlight their value
You should be viewing things from your customer’s lens, always. Think about the day-to-day friction they might encounter, and then tie that directly back to how your services will be the solution to their problem. If you just talk about your MSP and your products, you’re going to miss that opportunity to connect with your customers. If you tell them that you understand their frustration with setting up the right IT access for onboarding new employees, for instance, and then explain how your services solve that problem, you have a much better chance of them really understanding the value your MSP brings to the table.
The role of marketing materials in product marketing
The first step in knowing which marketing materials to use for your services is really understanding your customer base. You can do this by simply sending out a survey twice a year to identify their pain points. Typically, things like customer testimonials are extremely valuable in product marketing, and you can present those as infographics or short videos for easy sharing on your website, social or in email.
Something else to keep in mind is that your customers aren’t necessarily managed service experts, so keeping it simple is key. You can talk about your services as packages or bundled offers, like a Security package or Data Storage package. Keep it in broader terms rather than focusing on services or systems. So, instead of focusing on reselling specific products, focus on your customers’ concerns—like cybersecurity—and approach them with a solution or package for that problem. The less technical the better, especially if your customer doesn’t have an internal IT department.
Focus on the ‘why’ and not on the ‘how’, and you’ll get a lot more traction from customers because they’ll understand the services you’re providing and they’ll know what to expect.
How to build a strong service offering or package
Conversations are always the best way to get feedback on new service offerings. Ask prospective customers about their IT needs to get an understanding of their pain points and how they align with your capabilities. Also, look at the competition and what they’re offering, and that can give you an idea of the services that are in demand in your local area. And, if you find that your capabilities are aligned with both your prospective customers’ needs and your competitors’ offerings, then that’s a good sign that you’ve created the right service offering.
How often should you re-evaluate your service offerings or packages?
Again, this is where customer surveys can be really valuable. At least twice a year you should be asking your customers what’s going well, what problems they are encountering and what additional services they’re interested in. Also, conduct quarterly business reviews (QBRs) to help your customers understand what you’ve accomplished and what’s coming up next, and demonstrate your value. This is also a fantastic opportunity to help them address their current business issues, ask them about growth plans for the next 6 months, and how your MSP can help them prepare for that. Keep your eye on industry and market news for trends and issues that could be important for your customers, and for ideas on how to upgrade your offerings.
Tips for rolling out new offerings or upsells to current clients
If you have an established customer base, you can take a consultative approach to upsells and new product launches. Approach a small number of trusted customers and let them know you have a new offering and you’d like their opinion. You can offer them a discount if they listen to your pitch and help you think about things from a customer perspective, or if they are willing to test out your new offering for a few months before you officially launch it.
Getting buy-in early from trusted customers will also allow you to create compelling sales collateral using social proof. You can let a few customers test your offering and from that you can create testimonials and use cases that can become sales materials and talking points.
Turn Your Services Into Solutions
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