Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are where the growth opportunities are for managed service providers (MSPs), but getting on their radar can be challenging.

You must push your signal through a lot of noise, start conversations with the right decision-maker, and build a rapport.

SMBs are driving more growth for all technology vendors because they’re going through dramatic digital transformations. Cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivery models provide opportunities to deploy technologies they never had before, allowing them to use the same technology as larger competitors.

Smaller organizations tend to be more willing to take risks and less likely to be bogged down with embedded infrastructure. However, despite their eagerness to adopt technology, SMBs come with their own set of challenges.

Simplify Your Message

One of the reasons SMBs seek out MSPs is that they don’t have a lot of internal IT resources. This means you may not always direct your marketing toward a CIO, CTO, or IT manager. The IT decision-maker may be the CEO or CFO, and their level of technical knowledge can vary.

Your marketing efforts must include education to help them understand emerging technologies. Most importantly, you need to articulate the value of your product and services offerings. They want to know how you can help their business, so you need to take the time to understand their business.

You also need to have solutions designed for a typical SMB. It’s not enough to have a great product or service offering, especially if it was designed for enterprise-level customers who have the capacity to deploy and manage it.

When marketing to SMBs, use plain language. If they don’t understand what you’re selling, they won’t buy it.

Find Their Pain Points

SMBs don’t have the luxury of adopting technology for its own sake. Your job as an MSP is to figure out how one of your competencies solves one of their problems. You need to focus on their pain points.

Some pain points apply to all SMBs. Whether they realize it or not, they need data backup, business continuity, and disaster recovery services. Other common pain points include security, regulatory compliance, and how to get to market more quickly.

Other services may be more specific to certain sectors. You could tailor services to healthcare organizations that must track and safeguard electronic medical records with data management, backup, and security offerings, or focus on the specific wireless networking needs of the hospitality sector. Industry 4.0 presents opportunities to help manufacturing companies automate the factory floor and leverage the Internet of Things. You want to map your portfolio of managed services to various industries. There’s likely going to be some low-hanging fruit but also some niche opportunities where you can become an expert.

Segment Your Outreach

When marketing to SMBs, bear in mind they don’t have a lot of bandwidth. Remember that the CEO or CFO may be the IT decision-maker in addition to all their other duties, but they also do their homework before reaching out.

MSPs need to be easily found online. Once a potential customer lands on your website, they will read several pieces of content before making contact, and they will likely check out your social media. That means MSPs need to take an omnichannel approach to marketing that facilitates education about available technologies, how you use them to solve problems, and how to start a conversation.

Your online presence and social media are critical for inbound marketing, which involves creating a regular stream of content that will draw in potential customers. This might include regular blogs and the occasional whitepaper to entice people to learn more about your services. Your content should be segmented for target audiences depending on the services you’re selling and the industry you’re courting. Third-party platforms such as IT publications and online communities like LinkedIn groups can be used to amplify your message. Hosting a webinar is an excellent way to demonstrate your expertise and ability to act as a guide for SMBs looking to solve problems with technology.

Outbound marketing, which involves cold-calling and paid advertising, can also help you connect with potential customers. Email marketing remains a workhorse for marketing to SMBs. You can build a database of opted-in email subscribers to nurture a relationship with those who have shown an interest in your services by sharing content that educates them about the value proposition of your offerings.

What’s most important to remember when marketing to SMBs is that, as an MSP, you’re not just looking to close a transaction—you’re looking to build a long-term relationship. All your marketing efforts should position you as a trusted IT advisor who will play an ongoing role in their digital transformation.

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