Transformational Marketing: StoryBrand and They Ask You Answer
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way people live their lives, maybe forever. The microscopic virus with a spiky crown made us reconsider how to avoid frequent close contact with other people because we need to avoid debilitating illnesses. The pandemic changed the way businesses conduct business with each other, how staff conducts meetings, and where employees work each day. Significantly, too, the year 2020 changed the way businesses approach marketing their products and services to their customers.
During COVID-19, many Managed Service Providers (MSPs) cut their marketing staff in reaction to the unforeseen deceleration in the business environment. In the long-term, however, cutting marketing staff results in a steep ramp up when things get moving again. In the meantime, vulnerable customers often move to competitors.
The following paragraphs describe the basics of the revolutionary tactics taking place in marketing today and how MSPs can avail themselves of these methods to grow their businesses post-COVID.
A Brief Refresher in Marketing Approaches
Outbound Marketing refers to those traditional sources of advertising like direct mail, radio/TV ads, and trade shows. It also means hours of cold calling and telemarketing. These sources do not always align themselves with the MSPs mindset.
In contrast, the Inbound Marketing approach creates valuable content aimed at solving customer problems. The businesses then distribute that content on websites in an effort to attract customers to buy the company’s products and/or services. The content produced may take the form of educational, entertaining videos or written content. Today, one of the tenets of Inbound Marketing is that customers will read longer content if that content helps them solve their pain points. Even the Google algorithm looks for quality over quantity.
A Tale of Two Techniques for Website Content
StoryBrand is the marketing technique that creates copy for virtually any platform, but differentiates from the traditional model. In StoryBrand content, the customer is the hero. StoryBrand embraces the following steps:
Identification of the problems a business’s customers face;
Discussion to help people understand how to fix their pain points and how the business provides the solution;
Create content that spotlights a customer as the hero.
In the MSP context, StoryBrand means identifying IT problems the customer base faces every day. It means showing them that partnering with the MSP is the way to fix their problems. The content highlights one of the MSPs customers who used the service and saved the day for its business.
TheyAskYouAnswer is another revolutionary Inbound Marketing idea that embraces the concept that digital customers are a new breed. They do their own research online. They want to connect with companies online before they make a decision. They look for answers on Google and want to connect with the companies that can give them the answers they seek. To succeed, therefore, MSPs must stand ready to answer the questions customers ask.
Both of these marketing approaches mean that MSPs must be marketers first and a technology company second. It’s a matter of changing the mindset of the managers and communicating that mindset through staff to customers. MSPs need to communicate to clients the work that must take place in order to fix the pain points. Successful MSPs will be those who can explain in simple, clear terms how their businesses are the best choice to get the work done.
Culling the Herd
It may seem counter-intuitive, but sometimes MSPs must cull the customer herd. When MSPs realign their business model toward a new direction, they must eliminate customers who struggle to come to grips with that realignment. Eliminating the causes of friction increases the growth prospects for the MSP. Conversely, retaining customers who create drag on the MSP’s forward momentum creates business stagnation. No doubt it is a difficult decision to cut off part of the revenue stream, but the decision is a win for those customers, too. They are better served with a business aligned with their goals.
The Post-COVID World
If COVID-19 has an upside for the business community, it’s that MSPs are smarter now about how they view growth and success. Prior to the pandemic, companies often concentrated on the number of top revenue makers as an indication of the business’s success. However, those top customers may also represent the highest costs to a business in terms of efforts required to secure and maintain them as part of its customer base. It is more accurate to concentrate on an increase in gross revenue over the full client base to determine whether a company experiences growth year over year.
An unfortunate side effect of the pandemic is an increase in the number of MSPs who went out of business because they did not retain enough cash to weather the storm and did not concentrate on adding underserved customers to their customer base.
Post-COVID MSPs will win the growth race if they:
Run the business effectively,
Communicate how the MSP will fix customer problems, and
Use effective communication tools to proclaim their customers’ survival stories.
Post-COVID realities will cause companies in every sector to reconsider the role technology plays in business growth. For example, once air travel opens up to all travelers, questions will arise whether a business’s customers demand that the company expend the dollars to fly to meetings. Technologies, like Microsoft’s Teams and Zoom, proved their worth to businesses during the pandemic as remote workforces continued as profit-making enterprises while navigating a previously unimaginable and stressful disruption.
Successful MSPs will include those companies that show customers how they can accelerate efficiency and growth through technology. Successful MSPs are those that can show customers how:
To shave significant dollars from the cost of goods sold through innovative technology,
The MSP can solve customer problems,
Using the MSP will not only help them survive the inevitable economic slump following the pandemic, but help them grow.
Take Stock Now
The pandemic caused lasting structural changes to the marketplace, in consumer behavior, and in how the IT sector impacts businesses. Those changes make it vital that MSPs take stock of where they are now and how they apply their growth strategies. We encourage all MSPs to contact us to help with all your MSP marketing needs. Call today to schedule a complimentary discussion to learn how Ulistic LP can help you grow your business.
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Stuart Crawford serves as Creative Director and CEO with Sebring, FL Ulistic, a specialty MSP Marketing firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to how technology business owners and IT firms can use marketing as a vehicle to obtain success.
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