If you want to win more MSP clients, you need to surprise them

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    Originally published on SmarterMSP.com

    As an essential part of our onboarding process with any new client in our MSP Marketing company, we always go through a phase of competitor research. It’s always a good idea to keep up-to-date with what is going on in the industry, and I firmly believe that getting a better idea of what you’re up against in any market is invaluable, because it immediately highlights what you need to do to stand out in a crowd.

    In one recent case, the client and I kept seeing the same basic messaging over and over again. Countless competitors touted the fact that they provide terrific IT support, that all of their techs had a laundry list of certifications, that they offered a full range of services — the whole nine yards.

    Now, I’ll be the first to admit that these are all good points. You’re going to have a hard time advocating against any of them. At the same time, this also presented us with a unique challenge. My client was concerned about getting lost in the mix, as all of his competitors already sounded more-or-less similar to one another. He could include a different list of certifications for his techs, or he could provide more detail about what “a full range of services” really means. However, doing that would still run the risk of this client just sounding like an echo of everyone else.

    He told me that he wanted his marketing to show something different, to find something that nobody else was saying and latch onto that. He wanted to do more than just stand out with potential clients. He wanted to surprise and delight them. Of course, I enthusiastically agreed. 

    “Surprise” is the key to resonating with an audience

    Before we get to an MSP-specific situation, I want you to first think about the last great joke that you heard. It can be a long-form bit from your favorite comedian, a “knock-knock” joke, or something else entirely. Just think back to the last time you heard something that really made you laugh in a genuine way.

    Yes, the idea itself was probably funny. Sure, the comedian put their own unique spin on it. Maybe it even challenged your world view. But the reason why you still remember it — and why you don’t remember the countless other jokes you’ve heard in your lifetime — is because it surprised you.

    Successful comedy is born out of that surprise — literally every part of the bit depends on it. The punchline is most effective when we don’t see it coming. You might think you do, but a master comedian shifts at the last possible second, completely turning everything you thought you knew upside down.

    Part of this relies on “what you thought you knew” — those preconceived notions that someone uses against you in the best possible way. In the context of a joke, you think you know where the bit is headed. When you realize you don’t and the surprise happens, it just makes you laugh that much harder.

    Your MSP marketing messaging needs to surprise people

    With this client, we had an advantage because those preconceived notions were essentially programmed into his target audience by his competitors. They’d been training potential clients to think of managed services providers as stuffy organizations backed by certifications, services that all sounded more-or-less identical to one another, etc. What they had yet to really hit on — and what we seized as our unique opportunity — was personality.

    We quickly realized that via our messaging, this client could position themselves as a “no nonsense, straight shooter who does what he says and always tells you like it is.” We were instantly able to break free of the stereotypical image that people have of MSPs as stuffy, IT-obsessed people, who are always trying to push the “latest and greatest” advancement on clients just because they can, not because they should.

    Part of the reason this worked is because that happened to line up with my client’s personality. He’s always been that kind of “direct, to the point” kind of person. The main reason the messaging landed like it did is because nobody else was doing it. Because of that, nobody in this client’s target audience knew what to expect.

    We were still conveying the same information. After an overhaul of the client’s website, their own customers were still walking away with valuable insight into how qualified he and his team were. Customers still knew what to expect from their products and services. 

    That subtle shift in messaging allowed us to do something more than just build brand awareness or stand out among competitors. It gave us the opportunity to surprise people again and again. That’s not just what prevented this client from getting lost in the mix. It’s what allowed his messaging to really burrow deep into the heads of his target audience in a way they wouldn’t soon forget. It allowed his company to stick with them, the same way a good joke does, and it made an appreciable difference on his outreach efforts almost immediately.

    By surprising prospects today, you can delight them as customers tomorrow

    Most MSPs market their businesses in a way that is technically correct, but also causes them to blend in with a crowd, instead of separating themselves from it. To make sure you achieve that separation, you need to do more than just stand out. You must capitalize on every opportunity you have to surprise and delight the people you’re talking to. Thankfully, this isn’t as hard as it appears — and I want to prove it to you.

    A lot of times, this is simply a matter of looking inside instead of out. Remember that thing that makes you so valuable in the first place? That quality you correctly recognized was lacking from the industry that made you want to start a business in the first place? That’s the foundation upon which successful messaging is built.

    So what is it that makes your MSP so valuable, and how can you wield that like a weapon to pleasantly surprise your prospects on a regular basis? Let’s find out together by way of our one-on-one strategy call. This will give myself and my colleagues a chance to get to know you better, uncovering exactly what makes you unique, so that we can shout it from the mountaintops together as loudly as we possibly can.

    Nate Freedman

    Nate Freedman is the CEO of Tech Pro Marketing and Ulistic, the only MSP marketing group with 12+ years of experience helping MSPs generate over 20,000 high quality leads, with over 150 5-star Google Reviews to back it up. Connect with me on LinkedIn.