Your 2018 Business Strategy Guide: Marketing and Growth Planning

Author: Continuum’S Lily Teplow
Author: Continuum'S Lily Teplow

Introducing Your 2018 Business-Wide Success Guide! This series is designed to help you plan for and achieve success in the year to come. Each of the following five posts will dig into a specific department of your business. We’ll be able to reflect on and assess your efforts of the past year, as well as establish a success plan going forward. You’ll also hear from experts on each subject along the way, providing you with tangible tips and tricks to get ahead—and stay ahead—in the new year.

Keep reading to discover how you can start planning for growth in 2018, one department at a time.

From the many IT solution providers and managed service providers (MSPs) I’ve spoken to throughout the year, almost all have said that they want to “win new business" in 2018. However, said new business won’t just fall into your lap. You need a solidified plan for attracting and converting new leads and clients, yet it needs to be different from what everyone else is doing.

So, if you’re looking to beat out your competition and accelerate growth in 2018, it’s time to refresh your marketing strategy.

Your 2018 Marketing Strategy

Because the MSP sales process is highly consultative, you can spend weeks, months or even years closing a client. This is why effective marketing is so crucial to your business’ success; it helps engage with and educate your target audience to expedite the sales cycle. In previous posts, we’ve touched upon how to build your business throughout the sales and marketing funnel. While this is extremely important, it can’t be your only focus going forward.

It’s soon to be 2018, which means that you need to step up your marketing game. So, what’s the answer? Adopt a data-driven marketing strategy.

Did you know that 64 percent of marketing executives “strongly agree” that data-driven marketing is crucial to success? Data-driven marketing is a powerful tactic that should be a part of your overall marketing plan because it increases your awareness of your clients and prospects—and their awareness of you. To put this into practice, let’s look at the various numbers and goals that should be driving this strategy.

Key Marketing Metrics

There are a handful of marketing KPIs (key performance indicators) you should be recording and reporting on regularly. For the purposes of a data-driven strategy, some of the most important KPIs include:

  • Traffic – How many visits are you getting to your website in a given month? Additionally, where is this traffic being generated from (i.e. organic, email, social, etc.)? Measuring this can help you determine where you need to allocate your resources.
  • Conversions – How many web visitors are turning into leads? To determine this, track how many form submissions (eBook download, network assessment request, etc.) you receive on your website. Similarly, you should keep tabs how many of those leads convert into clients.
  • Client Acquisition Cost – What’s the average cost required to bring on a new client? This can be valuable when allocating budget for various marketing initiatives or establishing lead generation goals. Calculate this metric by adding up your total sales and marketing costs, then divide that by your number of new clients.

Pro tip: If you want to turn your website into a true lead-generation machine, click here!

Setting Goals

The key to a data-driven marketing strategy is to let the data influence your plan of action. For example, if you’re seeing that your conversion rate from lead to client is falling behind, you should focus your efforts and create marketing campaigns around nurturing that part of the funnel.

The same goes for the goals you set for yourself and your team. Look to establish goals based on the metrics and data that you’re tracking. These can include general lead goals, MQL (marketing qualified lead) goals, conversion rate goals, and more. Ask yourself: How many clients do I need to acquire to remain profitable? How many leads do I need to generate in order to convert that number of clients? All in all, you should aim to build backwards from your goals to create a plan, not the other way around.

It’s also important to note that data-driven marketing should be constantly monitored and adjusted based on the results (successes or failures) that you’re seeing. This will help identify which tactics are working, encourage buy-in from organizational leaders and get the most ROI out of your marketing strategy.

What’s Next?

Now that we’ve established what your marketing strategy should look like in 2018, you might be interested in investing more in this department. If you’re a Continuum partner, we’ve likely displaced your labor and overhead expenses, causing you to have some extra funds in the budget. What better way to use this money than to hire your first full-time marketing team member? Some of the key characteristics and background you should look for include strong writing skills and experience, the ability to adapt and wear multiple hats, and more.

Pro tip: If you’re looking for an overview of the types of candidates you should seek out when beginning to build out your own marketing team, click here!

If you’re eager to get started on enhancing your marketing efforts, here are my two final pieces of advice. First, give your search engine optimization (SEO) and keyword strategy a refresh. As we come into the new year, look for ways you can target new keyword opportunities or even embrace geo-targeting—feature location specific keywords across your website to increase visibility in your local market. Second, solidify your blogging and content strategy. Creating relevant and educational blogs and other pieces of content is a great way to establish your knowledge and expertise. And—if you use your keyword strategy correctly—you can open your website to even more conversion opportunities.

Want to learn how you can fuel business growth with sales, generate more opportunities and revenue, and make every contract as profitable as possible? Click here to read part two of this series on the Continuum website.

Bonus – Grab This: Attract more prospects, generate better leads and close more deals with Continuum's eBook, The Complete Guide to MSP Marketing. You'll learn inbound and outbound marketing, engagement marketing, how to identify your target market and more. Get the eBook here!

Lily Teplow is a content marketing manager at Continuum. Read more Continuum blogs here.