So here I was. A 26 year old guy still in college, managing servers remotely from the classroom, and trying to start a MSP (Managed Service Provider) to take care of my family. I desperately needed some good leads for my IT company in order to stay afloat and grow.
Those early years were tough. I just had my first kid, and no one knew who I was, or what my business was about. I was thought of as an “IT guy” or “Computer Repair” guy. But I didn’t want to be a solopreneur or a moonlighter. I wanted to build a business, build a team, build a culture, and build revenue.
The first few clients I acquired were referrals of course. Isn’t that how each of us get started? But there came a point when I had sort of exhausted my network and the leads weren’t coming in quick enough.
I Was Failing At Getting Good Leads For My IT Company
I started going to BNI groups, Chamber of Commerce meetings, networking events and the like. There was only one major problem. I frickin hate that stuff. I’m an introvert to the bone. I would rather sit home with my family and watch Netflix, chill out, and enjoy some peace and quiet. Small talk… just isn’t my thing. And that’s what 90% of networking is about. Small talk.
I’m not saying networking is bad. In fact, I wish I was better at it. But I’m not, so I had to find another way to generate leads for my fledgling little startup MSP.
So I turned to the internet. With the internet, I could sit behind a computer and attempt to drum up business. Something called SEO or Search Engine Optimization was starting to become popular, but very underutilized by IT companies. So I took advantage of that. Even today, most IT companies are not fully comprehending or utilizing the power of internet marketing techniques.
Why I Began Investing In Internet Marketing For My IT Company
So I began laboring, hour after hour, writing content and building online marketing campaigns. I found a method and system that worked. I honed that system and found what worked and what didn’t. I battled with Google’s algorithms. I won some battles and lost some others. But within about 6 months, I started getting a steady stream of solid down the funnel leads.
These were passive leads. CFO’s, controllers, and others who were in pain with their current IT provider. They called our phone number and asked for someone to come and take a look at their network.
“I’ll be right there. What’s your address?”
I didn’t have to coax them or beg them for an FTA. No cajoling, no networking, no selling. I didn’t have to SELL! I would just show up and close the deal because they were in pain.
“How’d you find us?” I’d ask.
“You came up #1 in Google when I searched for IT companies in the area.”
I was the one doing all of the sales at that point. I had a small team of 8 or 10 guys and we were growing. Within 1 year of our online leads starting to kick in, we had tripled our revenue. Our MRR had skyrocketed. $$$
It was then that I learned that all I wanted to do for a career was help other companies like mine do the same thing that I had done for my IT company. I wasn’t that great at managing networks. But I could get passive leads via the internet for our company all the live long day… and then I could close them.
So I sold the MSP I’d started after 3 years of explosive growth. I took the money I made and a few industry guys with me and started Lemonade Stand, an internet marketing company.
Most MSP’s join some sort of a peer group, attend a boot camp, or sign up for some kind of marketing program with a traditional marketer. You know, the type of marketer who tells you to send out 2000 mailers to businesses in your city?
The problem is that these “sales coaches” or “marketing gurus” are just trying to sell their programs and then let you do the actual work to get the clients and grow your business. They’re not acting as a true partner in the process of growing revenue. They’re not delivering leads or helping the sales process directly. Lots of bark, you could say, but very little bite. Once they give you the “recipe for success” in a 3 ring binder, charge a few thousand bucks and a recurring membership fee… well then, it’s up to you after that.
Someone who’s running an MSP doesn’t have the time to implement all of those marketing strategies on their own. It’s a complicated and time consuming ongoing process.
But… there is an area where those founders are wildly successful. If I actually made the phone ring with a controller representing a 150 user company on the other end of that phone call who was in pain and wanted to arrange a first time appointment. Their ability to close that deal hovers around 80-90%.
Most MSP founders are great closers. They can confidently say, “If you can get me in front of a new prospect… then I’ll close them.” They know their company and their trade. But in my experience, there are just never enough leads in the funnel. Not enough FTA’s, not enough suspects, and not enough prospects.
Most MSP’s have probably spent thousands on full-time and part-time in-house marketing employees, traditional marketing materials, consultants, and programs. Then they’ve wondered where all their money had gone with nothing to show for it. Just a week ago I talked to an MSP owner who told me he’d just spent $100,000 on various marketing programs and didn’t have a lead to show for it.
I couldn’t help but ask this founder, “Can you imagine if we spent $100,000 on Pay-per-click qualified leads, content marketing, and SEO?”
All of these forms of marketing are measurable! Paying a consultant to help with your “branding” and “messaging” is not measurable. Throwing up a freeway billboard with a QR code, making some t-shirts, or throwing a party might yield some fruit… but nowhere near what intentional online campaigns can yield. Not to mention that those traditional marketing strategies are almost impossible to truly measure.
I’ve seen it over and over again. A slick consultant convinces a founder that they will “take that company to the next level.” And then one day… they’re gone. Because it couldn’t be measured and it couldn’t be managed.
But every single thing we do online for a business as far as marketing goes can be measured down to the very last click. Content that you invest in creating will bring leads many years after it is published. PPC leads will come in almost immediately. And SEO will only get better over time. It is always such a beautiful thing to establish a budget and be able to accurately calculate an ROI and then scale from there.
What a rewarding experience it has been to work with so many great MSP’s and watch their company’s growth explode as well as a result of a proven method I used to get good leads for my IT company. It never gets old seeing those results!