The One: An MSP Marketing Lesson
He says it ten times. Four words, four syllables: It’s not your fault.
The line was delivered by the late great Robin Williams in the 1997 film, Good Will Hunting. In the unforgettable scene, Williams’ character, a therapist named Dr. Sean Maguire, helps his patient, Will (played by Matt Damon), achieve a breakthrough by telling him what he needs to hear most. It’s not your fault.
If you want to cut through the noise as an MSP business – if you want to leverage marketing to attract new clients and grow – take a page from Sean’s book and learn to harness…
The Power of One
As an MSP, you face a crowded industry, which means it’s important to take marketing seriously, as it’s what allows you to stand out from the crowd (sales can also be a powerful differentiator). Attention is what you’re after, and marketing’s how you get it.
Now, there might be a lot of things that set your MSP apart, but it’s important to resist the temptation to make your sales and marketing about everything that makes you great, and instead, figure out the one thing you want prospective clients to hear. The one thing you need them to hear. This is your core message. This is your one thing.
Once you’ve settled upon your one thing, the next task is to deliver that message incessantly, clearly, and without a stutter. Don’t dilute your one thing by constantly listing it alongside a bunch of other things. Sean didn’t tell Will “It’s not your fault” plus five other reasons he should allow himself to be happy. He told him the important thing, over and over and over again.
Want “excellent service” to be your MSP’s one thing? That’s a good starting point for a managed service provider – the word “service” is right there in the name! But don’t just say that your MSP has great service. Be specific. How about fast service?
A great way to test the specificity of your one thing is to sloganize it. Would “Fast Service” be a compelling slogan? Eh. How about lightning-fast service? Now we’re getting somewhere.
Let’s say you want your one thing to be “friendly service.” Like “fast service,” this one thing doesn’t really hold up on its own. So jazz it up. You could humanize the message further by telling prospects that your MSP offers “Unmatched Support with a Smile”. Or, if you really want to swing for the fences, say you’re the “Friendliest MSP in the Midwest”! These work as slogans, and in turn, indicate that you’re homing in on an adequately specific core value/benefit.
Specificity ≠ Uniqueness
You want your MSP’s one thing to be specific, but that doesn’t mean it has to be something that’s entirely unique to your business, which is why we’re going with “one thing” over the more familiar marketing concept of a “unique selling proposition” (also, your core message or ‘one thing’ is a slightly broader concept that a USP).
M&Ms aren’t the only candy that melt in the appropriate place. Arby’s isn’t the only fast-food establishment in possession of ‘the meats.’ And yet, these messages are etched into our collective consciousness, and help give these brands a distinct voice in their respective markets.
Furthermore, you don’t, in your marketing materials, need to focus on your one thing exclusively. Just make sure it’s the focal point of your marketing efforts, the recurring message that comes to mind whenever potential clients (as well as current clients) think of you.
Why This Matters Now More than Ever
With the AI revolution in full swing, it’s easier than ever before to generate content quickly and cheaply. But if you have experience working with large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT, you know that these artificially intelligent assistants tend to … overshare. They’re trained on vast amounts of data, and it shows.
For example, go ask ChatGPT: What core benefit does an MSP offer?
In mere seconds, it will have typed up a whole list of possibilities (when we tried this experiment ourselves, we got back 10 answers, including “24/7 support,” “cost efficiency,” and “cybersecurity.”
In this age of information abundance, the risk is not in the scarcity of content but in the overwhelming excess. When AI can help you say everything, your job becomes figuring out how to say the right thing. And the right thing is often one thing: a single message to which you are wholly and unapologetically committed.
A Thought Experiment
Here’s a useful ‘thought experiment’ to help you craft and refine your core marketing message:
Imagine your prospect. The key here is to imagine a real person – a living breathing individual with hopes, dreams, fears, etc. Picture them, sitting across from you.
Now, let’s say you have 30 seconds to tell them about your MSP. What do you say?
You could try to rattle off your MSP’s manifold virtues – but good luck fitting all that into 30 seconds without sounding like an auctioneer hopped up on caffeine.
Alternatively, you could embrace the elegance of simplicity and choose the one thing you think will have the greatest impact.
We can’t tell you what that one thing is without knowing more about your MSP. But chances are, it’s less about how great your MSP is, and more about what your MSP can do for the prospect. Make it about them. Paint a vivid picture of what life will be like with your MSP at their side. Speak to them. Speak about them. And then, when you’re done, listen.
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