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A Canadian MSP’s Road to Harvard

 

MSP Marketing Interview with Darren Coleman, Coleman Technologies

Darren Coleman started out of college as an intern for a small, break-fix IT company. He wasn’t expecting to get hired, but thanks to his small-town values and work ethic, the owners of the company offered him a full-time job. Then, after a few years, they asked if he wanted to buy their business. This was the beginning of Coleman Technologies. It took many years of persistence and hard work, but today Coleman runs a very successful managed services provider.

How Darren Navigated His Path to Success

He Transitioned from Break-Fix to Managed Services.

After a number of years, Darren knew that he needed to make the transition from break-fix to Managed Services. However, this wasn’t easy. He started by going to his top clients because they trusted him, and he tried to show them how it would benefit their business to use Coleman’s managed services offering. Because they trusted him, they listened. Once they switched, they soon found that managed services could save them both time and money. Rather than being down for hours at a time, their IT issues were discovered and fixed before they created downtime.

He Focused on His High-Revenue Clients.

Darren then looked at his customers based on the revenue they provided. He made the difficult but right choice to let go of the low-revenue, high-effort clients. This allowed him to provide better support for his managed service clients. Fewer emails and phone calls made life much easier for the team at Coleman Technologies. Today, all of their clients are on a Managed Service Agreement where they get IT service and support at a fraction of the cost of them hiring a lone IT tech. Their clients are pleased because they get the benefit of a full team of professionals with 24/7 remote monitoring and help desk services.

He Shifted Gears from Tech to Marketing.

Darren knew that he needed to market his business to get the word out. To do this he had to “shift gears” from being tech-minded to growing the business. They were making more money, but Darren knew that if he didn’t switch gears, he wouldn’t enjoy doing this for the long term.

Darren met Stuart from Ulistic on Linkedin. He realized that Stuart had vision when it came to marketing MSP businesses. So, he went to Vancouver to attend one of Ulistic’s workshops. Stuart helped Darren get involved in marketing, and this changed his business in a dramatic way.

Today, Coleman Technologies thinks of themselves as a Marketing Company that specializes in Tech.

Coleman’s primary vertical had always been real estate brokerages that were too small to have their own IT department. They served this industry because this was what they knew. They started branching out into other verticals like manufacturing businesses. When they did, they found that this benefitted them in the same way that moving from break-fix to managed services did. Real estate agents, because they come and go, require a lot of hand-holding, and they were taking too much time and effort. Coleman’s manufacturing clients didn’t. So, they continued to focus their efforts on these clients and others that provided the best ROI for their efforts. Darren made some tough business decisions by “retiring” certain clients, but this paid off.

He Established Trust in The Community.

Darren has always worked to build trust in the community by contributing his knowledge via speaking engagements, webinars, and wherever he can. Word got out, and he was asked to contribute to the book Easy Prey How to Protect Your Business From Data Breaches, Cybercrime and Employee Fraud.

This provided the platform that launched him into being a subject-matter expert in the field. He was invited by a friend to present to the Harvard Business School’s Faculty Club. He was very excited about this – however, he was supposed to fly out to Hawaii with his family the next day. Nevertheless, he made the effort to present at the event, and according to Darren, it paid off. As a result, he’s now a different person.

He “Gets Out There”.

That’s the key; you must make an effort. It’s important to get out there. It doesn’t have to be at Harvard – speak at your local business association or Chamber of Commerce. You can also reach out by holding online webinars and recording podcasts. Even if you don’t get many people signing on, over time your audience will grow.

Never turn down a journalist. If you do, they’ll never call back. Darren made sure the local papers knew that he spoke at Harvard. Anytime Coleman Technologies wins an award or they’re mentioned on a notable site, Darren makes sure people know about it. You must be persistent and work to get published in your local channels. Don’t give up. Pitch your stories around what’s happening in the marketplace such as ransomware attacks that occurred in your area. You never know who’s listening or reading. Darren’s gotten great clients with 200+ users who found him by simply reading an article.

He Invests in MSP Marketing.

At some point, you realize that you can’t continue to grow by doing the same things over and over. Darren knew that what got Coleman where they were, wouldn’t take them to the next level. The business had to change, everyone at Coleman had to change. As the tech world evolves, they do too.

Invest in yourself, your team and your marketing. Go to marketing and sales training programs. If you get leads and you can’t close them, you’ll have wasted all your efforts.  Keep learning and “sharpening your saw” to get better at what you and your team do. Darren tells us that he never knows what the ROI is from his different marketing efforts, but that he does know his company is making more money. And the more he makes, the more he puts back into marketing.

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