MSP Copywriting – Part 3

A Pizza With a USP

As quick recap from last time, you’ll hopefully recall that we looked at the ‘Who’. Now, I’m obviously not talking about the famous British rock band – instead I was referring to your target market, your avatars, your ideal client profile (ICP). Then we looked at the ‘What’, specifically what their pain-points and challenges were and what keeps them awake at night.

This time, you’ll start mapping out your ‘Why’. This will include why should they buy from you and not someone else? Why are you different?

Your USP

I find it helps if you start with your USP – i.e. your Unique Selling Proposition.

Very often, USPs are encapsulated within a company slogan. Or, another way of putting is that a company slogan which encapsulates your USP is more likely to be a better one. Let’s start with looking outside the managed services industry for a moment. If you think the MSP market is crowded, imagine what it’s like for people selling pizza!

Nevertheless, Domino’s Pizza smashed it years ago, with their famous USP. They knew that their target market valued getting their pizza to them as fast as they possibly could when they were hungry and were less concerned around variety than speed.

So, that was how they crafted their USP : “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less — or it’s free.”

It’s bold, it’s compelling and it worked – it made them famous and certainly helped them separate themselves from their competition. Note that they didn’t say they had the best ingredients or that they were the cheapest or held the biggest range. The dimension they capitalised on was speed.

A Few Other USPs You May Recognise:
Colgate: “Recommended by Dentists.” This USP emphasises trust and professional endorsement.
FedEx: “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” : Again, not only speed is emphasised here but also reliability as well.
L’Oreal: “Because you’re worth it.” This conveys that their products aren’t cheap but that the customers who buy it should value themselves enough to afford them.
Stella Artois: “Reassuringly Expensive” : Once again – they’re positioning themselves as a premium brand, above the others.

What Is Your USP?

I have spent a long time speaking with MSP owners. Second to not having a target market, the lack of a clear USP is definitely one the biggest stumbling blocks they have. For some reason, many MSPs don’t seem to think it’s important or they have never known how to create a viable USP. Personally, I think that’s a mistake.

Here’s A High-Level (Simplified) Process You Can Use to Develop Your USP.

Step 1 – Choose Your Buyer : i.e. the Demographic / Niche / Vertical / Commonly-Held Problems
We’ve largely covered this in a previous part of copywriting. As a note, remember to look at what your competitors are doing and make a list of all their USPs that you come across, as a handy piece of research you can draw from.

For example, your ideal client might be a medical practice that requires 24/7 cover for their Linux systems.

Step 2 – Identify What Their Pain Points Are.
You can do this when you :
Review your own customers. Take care to actively listen our for the words they use and write out key words that you can use in your copy later on.
Review your support tickets. You can likely use AI these days to run some keyword analysis – and identify keywords such as speed of response.
Review any online forums, chat groups etc. Again, you might well be able to scan it for keywords.

Their pain points might be along the lines of :
“When we have critical issues, we need someone to answer the phone immediately”
or “We get a lot of call-outs on a Saturday night and occasionally the systems are down”
or “Our existing company try their best but they’re always very busy.”

Step3 – Review Your Strengths. List out everything that you can think of.

Whether it is the amount of field-experience you have, qualifications, accreditations or any specific skills or knowledge. It could also be anything from a geographic advantage over your competition to expertise in a particular type of software.

If you have a number of particular types of customers or have solved particular problems, this will give you experience you can write down too. It’s also useful ‘fodder’ for case studies of course.

Ask Your customers what they think is good about you – you may have overlooked something.

Step 4 – What Are You For? This can be the ‘positive’ part of your offer.
Try and align your strengths with their pain points. You’ll need to be a bit creative here and possibly patient too. Write down several unique angles you can test. Try and make these outcome-focused, rather than feature-focused. For example : “Your call will be answered promptly, guaranteed” will likely have more impact than “We hire lots of engineers”.

Step 5 – What Are You Against? This can be the ‘negative’ part of your offer.
Adding a negative promise can strengthen your offer, such as saying what your promised results won’t have or contain or need or do. Some examples could include :

“Your IT support call is free if your call isn’t answered straight-away”
Or “We’ll pay you if the engineer is late on site, outside our SLA”
Or “If we can’t fix your Linux Problem, you won’t pay a penny”

Step 6 – Add a Timeframe : This add some accountability to the offer that makes it valuable.
“Your call will be answered within 6 rings”
or “Your engineer will be with you on site, within 4 hours”
“Your Hosting Has An Uptime of 99.5% of the Time”

If the offer isn’t specific, it may start to become ‘woolly’ and lose any impact it could have had.

Step 7 – Add an “Or Else”. I.e. offer to refund/replace/redo/re-try etc.

As in the previous examples, you can add things such as :
“Your Hosting has an Uptime of 99.5% Else It’s Free”
or “We’ll Provide Support 24-7 Within Your SLA Or You Don’t Pay”

Note, it should make you feel a bit queasy to have impact – you may need to take a bravery pill!

Remember Domino’s Pizza – the USP that made them famous : “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less — or it’s free.”

This process might not be ideal for your business, there are multiple ways to develop a USP, so …

Another Way To Develop Your USP

In the absence of anything more creative, superlatives can provide some ideas here for coming up with potential USPs. Crucially, superlatives help to ensure that you try not to be in the middle – where business tends to be very competitive and crowded – the action is usually at the edges. I don’t suppose many prospects would be impressed with sales copy such as “we’re an average managed service provider, providing fairly good services for a reasonable price in Bedfordshire” – even if that’s the truth of the matter for many of them!

That’s not to say that your copy should be overly laden with unnecessary hyperbole because that’s off-putting as well. It’s just that you should focus on something that you do excel at. And if you find that you excel at nothing, then remember you can try and find the Venn-overlap of two areas where you are good at something to create an area where you do excel.

For example, for one circle in your Venn diagram, you may include a good average response time for getting engineers on site. Maybe not the fastest in the industry or even in the area but a good response time nevertheless. For the second circle of the Venn diagram, you might provide a handy service where you offer replacement laptops for clients who’s laptops become lost, stolen or broken. Perhaps the laptops require specialist software running on them to be pre-installed. A third circle on the Venn diagram could be your physical location – let’s take Bedford as an example. You can now draw concentric rings around your office location and clearly if a competitor is in another town or county, you have a distinct geographic competitive advantage over them for your clients in Bedford.

The Venn overlap here could be that you provide the fastest laptop replacement service to those business owners around Bedford that have a laptop requiring specialist software at all times.

Now, that’s an example off the top of my head but you can replace the circles in the Venn diagram here to suit your own needs and even if you’re only ‘average’ within the various circles, where the Venn overlaps occur, you’ll start to see where you can find your USPs. Of course, marketing is always easier if you are the best at something!

So, if you’re going to use superlatives, ideally they should be something you can stand by.

Rather than offering to be the cheapest (which for SMEs is rarely a good strategy), try and be (one or more) of the fastest, biggest, widest-ranged, longest-running, most respected, best-educated, most-patented, longest-serving, most positively-reviewed-on Google … there are lots of dimensions you could choose here!

This step is worth taking time and making sure your USP works for you. Ideally, you should be in a category of one. For example, this could mean being the only managed service provider in Bedford that provides Linux support and offers 24 hour cover. Just using empty superlatives that are meaningless will just make your sales copy appear false.

Testing Potential USPs
It’s important that your USP actually resonates with your market, so you should check, perhaps via :

Focus Groups: Organise focus groups with a mix of current clients and potential leads. Present your potential USPs and gather feedback.

A/B Testing: If you have a marketing platform of some kind, test different USPs in your ads or email campaigns to see which one resonates most with your audience.

Rinse, Repeat & Refine – Based on feedback and testing results, refine your USP to be clear, compelling and concise plus have a feedback loop where you regularly gather feedback from clients to ensure you’re consistently delivering on your USP. This should be part of your regular review anyway.

Remember to train your staff, especially customer-facing roles, to understand, believe in, and communicate your USP to your clients and prospects because your USP is not just a marketing slogan. It’s a commitment to deliver a specific kind of value to your customers. It’s your promise.

Now – we’ve covered the ‘Who’, the ‘What’ and the ‘Why’, next we’ll need to look at the ‘How’, and that’s what we’ll start work on in the next chapter.


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Mike Knight