Letter to the Managing Partner of a Local MSP

Dear Eddie,

I wanted to circle back around following our last meeting to give you a sense of where my thinking is as it relates to my agency helping your organization with the design and construction of a new website.

Based on our conversations, all indications are that you have an amazing culture. If culture eats strategy for breakfast, you guys have a huge advantage. But strategy itself is not unimportant, and is, as you know, an important prerequisite to a good website.

For a managed services provider, I believe the starting point for an effective strategy should be positioning. Whom do you serve? What problems does your team solve for? Or, what change does your organization want to bring about for its customers? To me these are the first answers your firm should be seeking as part of any approach to leveling up your marketing effort. You said some good things when we talked, but for me they didn't go deep enough. We could fix that.

On a side note, a good logo is, well, a good logo, and nothing more. You have a great one already. Neither updating it nor replacing it entirely will do anything to make a meaningful difference, even if your partners believe it’s important.

A strong position will be a major clue toward solving the next most important set of problems:

  • How will you reach your next client?

  • How will you earn her attention?

  • How will you engage her?

  • How will you earn her trust?

These are challenges of the funnel, and it's where the bulk of your ongoing marketing investment should be directed. Not in collateral, not in mainstream advertising, although either may play a small role. Not in social media, which, dare I say, should be the very last thing on your list of concerns.

Content, content, content.

If we were to work together, you may face some initial expense related to improving your marketing stack (e.g., changes to the website, or implementation of basic marketing automation capabilities), but your firm's biggest return will come from the simple act of telling your story, sharing your insights, and giving generously to those whom you seek to serve through your insightful content in the formats and channels—live events, articles, videos, podcasts, webinars—that prove to be most effective. You won't know what those are—the most effective, that is—until you start doing them and measuring the results, which will represent a significant shift in the way you’ve done marketing. But you can start with some informed assertions, and from there proceed to prove or disprove them. But I digress. To recap the main point, telling your story, creating and sharing your insights, giving generously to those you seek to serve, is how you will up your game. There's more to it, but this summarizes it pretty well.

Exploit your unique value

I've grown old and opinionated. Honestly, I'm pretty turned off by most of what people talk about in the name of marketing. I've seen what works and what doesn't, and the range of "what works" shrinks every time a buyer's trust is violated. If you're selling pigs, putting lipstick on them doesn't help. Finding and serving clients who love pigs, however, helps a lot. And if you have special pigs, all the better, because while many pig lovers won't want to pay for a special pig, there will be those who, like you, see the value. What is special about your organization that will excite your customers? Determine that first, and then redesigning website will be a slam dunk.

A Practical Approach

If I were making recommendations, I'd suggest first refining your firm’s positioning and developing a marketing plan covering content, channels and measurement. I'd suggest critical modifications be made to your current website, some up front and some throughout the year as you prove and disprove your assertions—using real data—related to user behavior on the site. I would suggest budgeting for marketing operations support, since it will produce a higher ROI—and likely superior results—than if you were to hire additional team members internally.

I’ve addressed your strategy, infrastructure and marketing operations. Now for the most critical component, creating the content. Your marketing plan will include a content plan, and from that you'll be able to develop a realistic budget. The cost (and effectiveness) depends in part on how firmly you and your partners will stand behind this notion of generosity, and how effectively you motivate the rest of your team to contribute.

These are the things that will move the needle and create a real asset for your organization. These will increase your "net worth", manifested in a strong and sustainable funnel. I'd like to design and build a new website for you, but it would be akin to pouring money down the drain. You need a strategy first, one that includes authoring, storytelling, and the sharing of insights. As your firm masters this you will experience amazing results. At that point you can budget three times as much as you originally would have on building a new website, because your profitability will justify it. That's the website I want to build.

I hope I have not come across as arrogant or as anything other than someone who wants to see you succeed. I hope we can work together to develop and execute a powerful strategy. But if you think we're not the best fit, then you’re probably right.

In any case, I look forward to your response. Have a great week!