Referrals for MSPs – Part 12

Rampant Referrals - Part 13

Recap : As a quick recap, last time we looked at communicating with your stakeholder groups by firstly looking at those groups over whom you have the most control and this meant reviewing onboarding sessions with your clients, then reviewing onboarding sessions with your staff and other suppliers and then looking at developing your referral packs accordingly. We then looked at growing your prospect list because it’s all part of the process of “connect, communicate and cooperate” and so connecting with people in the first place is where this all starts.

Once again, there are multiple approaches and lines of thought about growing a list of prospects and sales-leads. We briefly looked at telemarketing but you can include other forms of outbound marketing such as direct mail or LinkedIn outreach or inbound marketing such as paying Google Adwords to direct prospects to a landing page where you offer something of value in order to capture contact details and start a longer-term relationship.

Start With an Offer

All of this, whether it’s inbound marketing or outbound marketing, requires that you offer value of some kind up-front. Otherwise, what’s the point? Seriously, what would be the point of paying to reach out to someone and then have nothing to offer them to entice them to communicate with you? That’s exactly why I suggested that you develop your referral pack so that your various stakeholders have something of value that they can give to other people on your behalf and therefore start the referral process and mitigate any social risk or sense of neediness.

But here’s the thing, doing the same thing over and over and yet expecting a different result is one definition of insanity. So therefore, offering the same people the same thing time and again and expecting them to give you a different answer is perhaps not the most effective use of your time and resources. That’s not to say that people’s circumstances don’t change and that what you offered before isn’t now of interest. Perhaps previously the time wasn’t right and they weren’t ready or perhaps other circumstances or their perceptions have changed and now they are ready, so that what you were offering before is now finally relevant for them.

Nevertheless, I think a better idea than remaining fixed and rigid with your offer is to regularly change and rotate your offers to your various lists and your referral partners so that you can maximise the chances of your offers being attractive to the widest audience possible at each stage of their various buying cycles and other business-cycles.

As many of you will already know, I’m a massive fan of leveraging the power of events to get in front of people. There are many reasons for this. If nothing else, the percentage of people who are likely to respond to an offer involving an interesting event are of an order of magnitude higher than for a typical product or service. For example, if I were to phone a hundred people in Huddersfield and ask if they’d like information about changing their telephony-provider or if they’d like a security audit, I might be lucky to get one in a hundred. And believe me when I say that I have tried and tested this and similar campaigns ad-nauseum on behalf of clients.

However, if I ask those same people if they’d like to come to an event where we can introduce them to other business-owners and they’ll discover the latest developments in the tech industry and other exciting business-developments, plus they’ll get some pizza and maybe even a glass of wine or beer, then perhaps 20% of them might say yes. Even more telling is that they might say no to one particular event but they often ask to be invited to any future events because they don’t want to miss out.

Now, in truth, if they decline might be because they’re being polite and they’re genuinely not interested or just as likely because they can’t make those specific dates or because they’re not interested in golf and for some reason, someone thought it’d be a good ideato make it a golf-themed event. But the cheese-tasting event which you’d got planned for the next quarter might be absolutely irresistible for them and they’ll also invite some of their other business colleagues as well – which of course is exactly what you want.

So this is my point – you need to change the bait periodically and possibly even cyclically so that some offers which you’ve been running which were previously successful but are now stale can lie fallow for a few months but which you can re-introduce again at some later date – whereupon some of those people that didn’t bite last time might well be receptive this time because – like I say – things change.

So with that in mind, have regular offers that you promote to your various lists (ideally most of them should be value-related and not sales-related, such as the examples about events that I’ve just given) and change the offers several times per year and make a note of what works and when. For instance, I have found that historically, over the summer in August, my B2B marketing efforts usually struggled because a lot of people are on holiday – so nowadays I’m lazy and don’t particularly bother. Of course, another school of thought could be that you simply ramp up your marketing efforts to compensate. Whichever school of thought you belong to, I’m suggesting that your marketing and your offers will probably produce different results at Christmas than they will in August – so try different offers at different times and see what works for you.

So, just to finish off with this section about communication sabotage, let’s quickly look at some ideas that you can try running. For the reasons I’ve already outlined, I’ve deliberately kept these ideas training related, rather than product or service related.

Existing clients & account managers.

For your existing clients, it’d be a good idea for your account managers to ensure that all your clients but especially your biggest and most valuable clients are not forgotten when it comes to promoting client workshops and seminars and webinars and in-person events that you put on, either directly yourself or via a collaboration with your joint-venture partners. You can also leverage other events where you think there will be value for your clients and invite them there and possibly even pay for their tickets if that’s appropriate for you to do so.

Regular newsletters
We’ve already covered this but for the sake of repetition, send out your regular newsletter (ideally weekly) to your clients and prospects and also send out a suitably tailored version to your other stakeholders too, including your staff and your suppliers and joint-venture partners.

Events for Other Stakeholders

There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t create events and chat-group for other strata of stakeholders too. MKLINK offers a peer group for managed service providers with regular events and trainings and a private chat-group. Can you offer something similar for your local business-peers or your suppliers?

I’ve always said that if you can do the joined-up thinking, then other peers and providers and partners can help pay and contribute resources towards your marketing, such as events and trade-shows and what not. There’s no reason to do everything yourself and you can share resources and costs. This could mean having a group for your suppliers to help you with a seminar for your clients or prospects or whomever  is of interest for them to be in front of.

With that in mind, this will conclude for now what I wanted to say about communication sabotage. You can see from the potentially massive potential matrix of stakeholders and information-based-offers that you can create directly or co-create indirectly with partners, there is absolutely no excuse for not having a continual stream of communications across various types media for all of your stakeholder groups.

So, with that out of the way, i.e. the “WHO” of your communications, I next want to cover the “WHAT” of your communications, which we’ll start looking at next time.


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Mike Knight