You know your customers well. You’ve been working with them for years and have spent countless hours on the phone and in person discussing the problems they need you to solve.
If someone were to ask you about small and mid-sized business IT needs, you’d be able to rattle off a dozen or more facts without thinking.
Why then is your marketing so general?
A common issue for many MSPs is a lack of clear targeting around the individual personas that best represent your target audience. Whether preparing to send out a new email campaign or building a new website, your marketing efforts need to be as laser focused as possible.
That’s where buyer persona identification comes in.
Common MSP Buyer Personas
The first thing you should ask when preparing the buyer personas for your company is “who is our first point of contact in the decision-making process?” The answer is often surprising.
While the final decision maker may often be someone in the executive leadership or a senior manager in a larger company, the first person you talk with may be mid-level or part of a small IT team that can’t keep up with company needs.
Keep in mind that, for MSPs in particular, this can vary significantly from business to business. Some common things to consider include:
- Services you offer
- Your ideal client size (SMB or Enterprise)
- Do you offer specialized solutions to specific industries?
- What are your value-adds?
Initial personas include:
- CIOs and CTOS – Technically sophisticated individuals who work in growing organizations and don’t have the infrastructure or resources to handle IT needs internally. They will have very specific questions and understand fully what you offer. They need to see expertise, as well as the ability to execute on that expertise.
- SMB Owner-Operator – For smaller businesses that don’t have IT staff on the payroll, you will most often deal with the owner/operator directly, or a partner at the executive level of the business. Expect direct questions, concerns over price and reliability, and sparse availability.
There are others, of course. For MSPs that specialize in certain industries, there will be different structures to consider. Larger MSPs with resources in multiple cities may target someone at the corporate level for multi-location organizations. But for most MSPs, especially those who target local audiences, these are the most important people you can and should be talking to.
Most people assume that C-level executives are only relevant in larger organizations and enterprise. The truth is that many growing companies, especially startups or those with limited resources will have someone whose job is to oversee technology and infrastructure. That persona may have a staff, or they may be working independently and need to leverage third party support to maintain security.
In the case of the latter, your services are a perfect fit, but you need to speak to their specific concerns. The things they care most about include:
- Qualifications – Technology-oriented executives know their stuff. They don’t need you to explain to them the benefits of a cloud migration or the different types of backup systems you can help them implement. What they need is clear verification of your qualifications to work with their company. This includes testimonials from similarly sized companies, statistics about your retention rate and response rate, and ability to speak to very specific problems they might have.
- Accessibility – Because they represent a larger company with far more employees and greater IT demands, they expect you to be available when needed. That means a process by which to reach you in the event of an emergency, any time of the day, any day of the week. It also means processes in place for handling disasters if they should occur, as well as common questions/concerns about security and cyberthreat response.
Someone at the C-level needs to know that you will act as a dependable, long-term extension of their efforts to maintain the information security and structure of their business. Content on your website that does this will help to make you stand out.
Where technology-oriented executives are well-informed and want to hear qualifications over specifications, small business owners and operators are often the opposite. These are individuals who have limited experience with technology, and until recently, have been managing what little technology they have in-house.
They might be concerned about recent cyber threats they’ve read about in the news, or they’ve grown to the point that requests for computer upgrades or fixes aren’t tenable anymore. Some things you should be able to provide them include:
- Scope of Services – An SMB owner wants to know that they have someone on call who can handle any and all IT problems, whether it’s a hiccup with file conversions or a major crash of an important system. Be prepared to show not only what you can do for them, but at what volume, availability, and cost you can do it.
- Security and Trust – Small businesses operate on trust. They need to know you are someone they can rely on to provide top tier service when needed without exception. Have a clear presentation ready of your security procedures, what you can offer them, and past work you’ve done with other similarly sized businesses, written or recorded in terms they will understand.
- Cost Concerns – Like it or not, one of the primary factors for many small businesses is cost. They want someone good, but also have strict budgets that need to be adhered to. For a small business that is changing providers or that didn’t previously have a provider, this means a new line item that needs to be fully justified.
In targeting small business owners, your goal should be to provide as much information as possible about what you do and how you do it, in a format and with language that they will understand and appreciate.
The Mindset of Your Buyer Persona
One last thing to consider that will likely influence how your personas are crafted is the mindset of the individual you approach. Some prospects may be underserved by their current MSP (or not have one), while others are always looking for a way to improve results. Triggers for these individuals to reach out include:
- Failure – This applies to both personas above. If a website crashes or there is a security breach, or even if the project at hand is too large for the current MSP on retainer, your prospect may be looking for someone new who can fulfill those needs. Expect the need for trust verification to be strong, but for the need to be urgent.
- Unhappy – There are others who may be looking for a better option due to slow support times or lack of certain services or features. These are less urgent needs and the prospect is more likely to be shopping around amongst many providers.
- Unwilling – In some situations your prospect will be searching for a replacement reluctantly. Their existing provider may be going out of business or increasing prices. Or maybe they have a new project or expansion that is beyond the scope of their current provider. Either way, they will be very selective as they look for someone who matches what they currently have.
Customizing Your Marketing Efforts to Match Targeted Personas
As a managed service provider who fully understands the needs and demands of the people in the three groups above, you can create a customized marketing experience that speaks directly to those concerns.
By doing this, you set yourself apart from most other providers – people who take a wide-angle approach that feels generic and doesn’t address the specifics until a sales call. By optimizing your marketing materials and web copy to address the core concerns of your personas, you can build a relationship before they even complete a form or pick up the phone.
In a crowded local field, this is one of the most important and effective things you can do for your marketing.