Are you a managed services provider (MSP) that has most of their clients within a 50 mile radius of their main operation?
If you answered yes, you are part of the majority. This is a natural phenomenon as most businesses get momentum through referrals which generally occur locally. Information is passed along in conversations in churches, at ball fields, on playgrounds and just about anywhere else that business people may find themselves on any given day.
As businesses begin to grow in local markets and establish themselves as a local provider, the likelihood of expanding into other markets is often dependent on hiring sales help to make that happen. While this sounds logical enough, actually making it happen successfully is much easier said than done.
How can an MSP increase market share beyond the realm of referrals?
That can be answered by having you answer one question. Where do YOU go to find out information about potential vendors after you have received recommendations from friends and colleagues? A search engine, of course.
With Google holding over 65% of the search market in the US and the majority of business related searches, it’s easy to see that when someone is looking for managed service providers for their business they are doing the same thing you would. They are searching and letting Google or Bing help them make a decision.
By the way, even those who are referred to you are doing the same thing. They are looking to validate a referral by seeing if the company that has been referred to them shows up in the SERPs (search engine result pages).
So what does all of this mean?
It means that you need to be taking the practice of local Internet marketing very seriously. Unfortunately, much like the world of IT, the world of Internet marketing is not a simple one to navigate. There are acronyms like SEO (search engine optimization), PPC (pay per click advertising), SMM (social media marketing) and much more.
Each part of the local Internet marketing puzzle is a discipline that requires specific knowledge and a willingness to invest resources like time and money in order to be successful. While it seems daunting, it can be done.
Here is a preliminary list of the areas of the local Internet marketing game that a business must consider.
Look for future posts that address each of these techniques in detail. In the meantime, you can mentally prepare yourself to know that in order to truly play the local Internet marketing game as a managed services provider you will need to understand:
1. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) - This is the practice of preparing a web site to rank organically for specific keywords and keyphrases.
2. Content marketing - Whether you are creating content for your site or creating content elsewhere that could rank in a search engine query, you will need to put new content out on a consistent basis to reach various prospects in the many different stages of the sales funnel.
3. PPC (Pay Per Click ads) - Whether it is on a major search engine, a specialized vertical search engine, a social media site or one of the thousands of options that exist online, you will need to seriously consider investing money in campaigns that can help fill in gaps in other marketing efforts.
4. Social media - Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and many more. You will need to determine where your market is and strategize how you can reach them in the social space.
5. Local maps - If you don’t have all of your ducks in a row as it relates to Google Maps, Apple Maps and other mapping services you could be missing opportunities. Often this practice starts with simply making sure that your basic business information is correct. Most local businesses have critical errors in their NAP (name, address, phone) listings in major data warehouses that get in the way of being able to be found online. Do you know who Acxiom or InfoGroup are? You will once you start down this road.
6. Blogging - This can be part of your content marketing plan but having an active and informative blog on your website can be invaluable to your ability to rank in the search engines.
Consider this list as your ‘starter set’. Are you doing any of these currently? How is it going? Do you need to study more? Do you need to hire a consultant? Let us know what areas of concern you ave and would like to see us cover in future posts.