If your clients and prospects are connected to the internet ̶ whether through cable, satellite, or cellular transmission ̶ their data and systems need some sort of protection. That effectively makes every business a potential sales target.
While most IT services professionals focus on the local market for a variety of reasons such as minimizing logistics issues, maximizing face time, and leveraging personal relationships (referral sales, geography does not impede the modern day MSP. The earth is yours for the taking.
The hardest part is communicating your value proposition to the right people. Most small MSPs follow more of an intermittent marketing strategy and ramp up or dial down activities based on the available bandwidth. They may go a year without making a Facebook post or running Google Ads because business is good, then end up with excess bench capacity after losing a client or hiring a new team member. That’s when they dust off the marketing playbook and reengage.
MSPs can’t afford to take that approach anymore. No matter what size your business, or how consistent recurring revenue is coming in the door, sales and marketing must be ongoing efforts. Awareness is key: assuring every potential client, large or small, of all the cyber dangers facing their organization. They need to feel or at least be conscious of the pain that many organizations have experienced at the hands of cybercriminals. Bring that message of concern and fear to your target audience in as many ways as possible.
Show and tell them about the solutions, too. Educate them about your offerings indirectly and, from time to time, in not so subtle ways. Making the connection between their businesses, the threats, and your various cybersecurity offerings will be essential to increasing your team’s sales success.
Education through marketing is critical in this space. Business leaders know they need computers, phones, printers, and the various solutions that keep their operations humming. What many decision makers don’t understand is that yesterday’s AV software and firewalls are simply not enough to ensure the protection of their data and systems today.
Unfortunately, some learn that fact the hard way by experiencing a ransomware attack or other type of network compromise (i.e., hacking, social engineering schemes). MSPs can provide those organizations with a less costly and less painful education in cybersecurity. Here are three tips that can get your clients and prospects thinking more about the threats ̶ and increase the revenue of your cybersecurity practice!
- Raise the Sound Level
Pump up the volume and frequency of the messages your firm sends out. Feature cybersecurity prominently as part of a comprehensive marketing/communications strategy, including periodic email campaigns and monthly newsletters, Google and social media ads, and event sponsorships.
Leverage the latest news concerning attacks on similar companies, as well as research and statistics that can drive home the message. Set Google Alerts for keywords (cybersecurity, ransomware, email security, SMB threats, etc.) and dedicate time each week to search for relevant resources to share in these campaigns.
MSPs can make this a collaborative effort and incentive employees with the most or best contributions each month. Others may delegate the responsibility to key team members or the marketing department (if applicable). It really doesn’t matter who takes on the research and collection responsibilities, as long as they know how to find and share the types of quality cybersecurity content that will connect with your SMB clients.
- Become the Risk Factor Expert
With the process set, it’s time to step up the messages. No matter the marketing activity, don’t lose focus on the objective: the risk of cyber attacks on the SMB are real, and every organization in your community is a likely target. From the law firm and credit union next door to the local elementary school, each is just one password or email link away from being shut down.
How do you get the decision makers to understand that’s today’s reality? Based on our discussions with the attendees at the IoTSSA Cyber Security Expo events, this challenge keeps many MSPs up at night. “We’re too small to be targeted” remains the most common client objection, though an uptick in news reports related to ransomware attacks on the SMB is helping providers turn that conversation into a sales opportunity.
The more difficult problem today is initiating those types of conversations. Cybersecurity is a risk, not a certainty like the need to upgrade computer and phone systems. It’s not easy to get decision-makers to set aside additional budget for threat monitoring, encryption, and penetration testing ̶ unless they truly understand the danger their companies face.
That’s why MSPs need to beat that drum strongly. Leverage everything you have, from social media and email to billboards and postcards. Go beyond the norm by offering to write guest columns for the community newspaper or discuss the latest cybersecurity risks with the local television news anchors. Explore and take advantage of all the available opportunities to discuss ransomware, social engineering schemes, and other threats.
- Offer Solutions and Strike Repeatedly
Cybersecurity is not a “one and done” conversation. The discussions, like the threats, should evolve and expand over time. MSPs can’t afford to let their community overlook the increasing severity and volume of cybersecurity incidents, or the solutions available to prevent or remediate those types of attacks.
If you want to make an impression with your target audience, convey how you’re prepared to become the true cybersecurity partner your customers need when they need it the most. Focus less on technical specifications and more on HOW you provide this level of protection.
Discuss proactive monitoring and prevention methods, as well as business continuity solutions that will ensure disruptions will be minimal if hit by ransomware or experience other potentially catastrophic events. Let them know that with the proper tools in place, they can pick right back up where they left off without missing a beat.
That message must be delivered continuously. Beat the drum loudly around cybersecurity and steadily increase the urgency until clients and prospects decide to finally engage in the conversation and begin discussing the real solutions.
Brian Sherman, Content Director, IoTSSA (Internet of Things Security Services Association)