Leveraging Existing Communities for Success
Are you trying to acquire new audiences when you can borrow others?
Find the communities where your next perfect customer is hiding - it’s easier than you think.
In this on-demand webinar, our industry experts Nate Freedman, Tom Watson, and Shannon Murphy uncover the strategies to leverage the existing communities for success. We’ll teach you how to:
- Discover communities that match your ideal persona
- Get access to these communities
- Sell to these communities at scale - gaining maximum ROI for your efforts
Hack sales with these tips on how to hunt smarter, not harder!
- Why Communities are important for business growth?
Networking - it’s never coming back the way it was. Communities are an easy and effective way to increase brand awareness, establish a positive reputation, and grow your business. But you’ll have to find them virtually now too.
- Why it is important to stay active in any Community?
If you're silent in your community and not seen, it's very hard to have credibility, or for people to find out about you and what you do. And, the best way to do that is to plug in and to really get involved actively in those communities, and leadership positions in places where you can make a difference and be heard.
- What is the geography aspect of the local business groups?
Target not only where you are, but where you want to be for business.
You local Chamber of Commerce will be good start. And, join into communities in the local area where you have your office, and where you’re going to operate primarily. Also, look for professional organizations within your niche that have local, regional, and national branches where you can start local and find more large-scale opportunities in the future.
- How can a Technology Partner reach out to the community members?
Never try to cold outreach anyone in the community. After attending a few events or meetings you’ll come to understand the values of the community. These are commonalities you can use to start conversation with other members. Later, introduce yourself and your business and how you can help their business. Build up the conversation, and the relationship.
- Hacks to get the best out of communities.
Don't get locked into one group, like a BNI. Yes, you can only be a member of one BNI at time, but you can visit others! These visits may show there is better group for you. Don't be afraid to leave and go to it.
Take a leadership position in the community you have joined. If you don't get to stand up and speak a lot, don't expect to get a lot of business from it.
In Chamber of Commerce, join the particular commissions and groups within the the chamber and get leadership positions to be able to leverage those communities very well.
Consider starting a new chapter. Is there an up and coming organization you respect? Reach out to organizing members to see if you can start another branch near you. This not only helps you become a leader in your community, but a leader in a nation-wide organization that you can grow with over time.
Hello and welcome to Leads at Scale - Leveraging Existing Communities
I’m Shannon Murphy, Chief Marketer at Zomentum, the Revenue Platform reinventing Channel sales.
Today I’m joined by Nate Freedman and Tom Watson. Let me tell you a little bit about Nate Freedman …
Nate is the CEO and founder of Tech Pro Marketing. He is also a featured author and trainer in the MSP industry, also working with clients as a private sales and marketing coach. Nate has dedicated himself to solving the MSP marketing problem, helping Owners across North America and the UK scale their lead gen and win more customers.
And of course, let us not forget Tom Watson!
Tom is an IT Channel veteran with over 20 years of experience. In 2015, Tom made a successful exit from the MSP he founded and operated for 15 years. Since then, Tom has devoted himself to consulting and coaching MSP owners through his business MSPGo, providing them with relevant, actionable advice to help grow their MSPs and increase profitability. Previously, Tom served as the VP of MSP Best Practices at Axcient prior to joining NinjaRMM as Channel Chief Advisor in January 2020.
Fantastic, these guys are more than qualified to help you. Thank you both for being here with us!
Thank you, Shannon. Yeah, super excited to be here. Loved our last session. So excited to talk to both of you guys. And, everybody who's joining. Thank you guys.
Awesome. So first, let's set the stage right? Why is using communities for our business growth?
Why is using communities important for our business growth?
Sure, it's important because MSPs are operating generally in a region. Even in a very small area, they're operating in a community. And, as a result, that's where you're gonna get most of your business, that's how you're going to grow.
And, if you're silent in your community and not seen, it's very hard to have credibility, or for people to find out about you and what you do. And, the best way to do that is to plug in. We're going to talk about not only to plug in, but to really get involved actively in those communities, and leadership positions in places where you can make a difference and be heard.
Yeah, I agree with that. And I think a lot of times, what you think about with MSP marketing and lead generation, there's so much more about being outbound like, “I'm going to call people, I'm going to create a list and I'm going to email them, I’m going to mail them something.”
And I think these are all like great tactics. But I think when you have a community that's already existing, it's already active, and you can just come in and become like an authority in that space, then you're switching from this one to one sales strategy, which definitely works, but is laborious and time-intensive. And then you can move into this one too many sales strategies.
So, I think both are a part of sales and marketing. And I think for MSPs, they're both definitely a part of it. I know Tom's going to talk a lot about some of the things that he did by joining a lot of his local communities that already had an active basis. And then some of the things that we've seen with our clients, it's a little bit like an untapped market in some spots where maybe people are receiving a lot of outreach messages. They're getting calls from MSPs. But they're not seeing them take these leadership positions in places that they're already hanging out.
Yep, absolutely. And I think that brings us to some of the places that we can look for communities where we can leverage, right. And I think, Tom, could you talk a little bit about the geography aspect of the local business groups?
Where can one find the communities to leverage, geographically?
Yeah. One thing I tried to do was, operating in the DC area. And so that's a very large area, about eight and a half million people. But I looked at it as, I've got my local area where I have my office, and where I'm going to operate primarily, and it's always nice to take as many clients close to home as possible.
But then where else do I want to do business and trying to look at the areas where there's going to be a lot of businesses, a lot of office parks, there's gonna be a lot of opportunities and then looking within those areas where you want to do business for what communities are within them.
And what I found is - in particular Chamber of Commerce's there are just dozens of them like in the area where I am not just one. Many people often associate those with something where you join the one that's right around you. And that's it. But they're not an exclusive thing. You don't have to just that one, you can plug into multiple ones. So that's my big thing, to target not only where you are, but where you want to be for business.
“Target not only where you are, but where you want to be for business.”
I think that's a great point. And like that actually, reminds me of Terrell, who's on the call right now. Now I hope you don't mind me calling you out of nowhere, but he just recently won the Member of the Year award for his local Chamber of Commerce. And he actually gave a talk on cybersecurity to his local Chamber of Commerce. And he's built authority in that space.
But I know he did a lot of work to put together that presentation where he did this live ‘Lunch and Learn.’ Why not take what Tom just said, and apply that to all the other chambers of commerce in your area. Give that same talk to a whole new group, you've already done the work once and now I think you can apply it a few times. I think that's an awesome strategy. And like maybe a takeaway that we just got right now from someone on the call.
Yeah, Nate, I actually like the idea. Always repurposing something you're doing too because you spend a lot of time putting these things together. And if you can find a way to use it again, you build credibility that way too. Probably the other chamber of commerce is going to be more likely to want you to do it when they already know that you've kind of got a proven model and that you can draw people in.
Absolutely. I was just about to mention that, if you could, you've already attended that secondary chamber, gone to a few of their events, and that the leaders within that community. Now you can offer to speak and say, yeah, check out this deck that I gave to this other chamber and they can see your presentation, and I think they're not really going to evaluate your presentation harshly. It's just knowing you're prepared and that you've done something like this before. And they'll happily say, Yes, I think that's absolutely true.
And then, Tom, I know that when you were starting out, you were able to leverage the legal community, and knowing that they needed a certain number of credits, like continuing education, to maintain their BAR licenses, right?
How to leverage communities in specific verticals?
Well, yeah, I know quite a bit about it. I didn't actually, it's kind of a newer thing I know about in terms of teaching these. The Bar Association both local, state, and national has continuing legal education credits, that require attorneys and they're getting some type of coursework done every year, usually multiple courses, and they're very short courses. Often they're like hour-long lectures, something like on email security, for example, or backups, often very simple topics, because attorneys tend to not be very technical.
But I know that in recent years, the Bar Association has been looking for IT professionals to come in and put these courses on because it's kind of the biggest threat to attorneys, they're handling funds, they're handling data, and lots of confidential matters. And so it's a big need. And they often let you do a pitch within there, too.
So they're not opposed to it because they're feeling as if you're teaching them about how to do backups better. If you have a good solution for it, too, you should probably let them know as well. So it's kind of an interesting thing because most educational models do not let you pitch your services. But it seems to me from what I know of it, is that it’s actually welcome in that space.
Yep, I think we've seen it referred to as CEUs, like continuing education units, for accountants, and a lot of the associations for accounting attached professionals. They require those types of things. They do like a monthly webinar series. And yeah, they're looking for speakers. We've also seen it with architecture and engineering firms like AIA. But I think if you can find an association that needs speakers like that, for continuing education purposes, it's great.
I think, even if they don't have continuing education requirements, what I've seen is that people need speakers, organizations are more open to having speakers than you might think. And back to your original point, Shannon, once you do one talk, maybe the word gets out about you, you know what I mean? And people are like, well, I need someone, I need somebody good and this might be a good person.
I know that kind of me and Tom we've run into each other, just from being in a little bit of this place where we're talking to the same people that need more speakers, as a mentor going out, you guys are doing it a big webinar series, you want a lot of speakers for it. And when you see me on some other platforms, that's how you've reached out to me. And I think once you kind of really get things going, it can get to the point where maybe you don't even need to start reaching out and people start reaching out to you.
Yeah, absolutely. And I think also to make that small ask as a business owner, a lot of these organizations that you're involved with, they want to support businesses as well. And so make sure after that session you tell them to say like, yeah, if you know of any other organizations looking for speakers, or if somebody comes to you and asks for recommendations, like please keep me in mind. It's just a very subtle ask. But I think it can be powerful in terms of the leaders of these organizations.
Make sure that you're top of their mind if somebody comes to them and says, like, Oh, do you know, a good speaker for cybersecurity? I'm looking for somebody right now. Right. So I think in terms of continuing education, we've talked about legal, we talked about architectural, I think there's medical, financial engineering, we were kind of brainstorming before we jumped on the line with you guys to figure out like, what are some other sectors that need continuing education and like communities that our audience members could be scouting? But I welcome any discussion in the chat too, if there're any other verticals that we're not thinking of, please shout out on that.
And I wanted to actually quickly administer a poll to ask you guys, are you part of any communities right now? I would say maybe not necessarily, like peer groups, right? Because those are great education for us, but not necessarily something where we're like selling into, but, your local BNI, or chamber, things like that.
Yeah, Shannon, one thing I noticed, Nate mentioned accountants the other day. And what I look at is, when you're looking to leverage communities, look for ones that work with businesses that handle other company's data. That's why attorneys and accountants automatically deal with data and money often. And those two things mean, there's going to be a higher bar set for them in terms of their responsibilities, legally. And when there's a legal responsibility, there's going to be some kind of education on top of that from some kind of governing body.
Hmmm. That's so true. That's why the government has been helpful or lucrative in the past, right? Because they are one of those first tiers dealing with those regulations. But if you kind of just think about it the way you just mentioned, taking a step down from that in terms of who has the like legal governing bodies looking over their shoulder to make sure that they're doing things appropriately, with data. That's a very solid point.
Okay, let me end this poll, and show it to you guys. But so we have about, let's see, we have about 77% of those of you who participated on the line, saying that, yes, you're involved in communities. And another 23% saying no. Yeah. I mean, if you guys want to chat with us, let us know may be why you're not participating in communities.
What feels like the barrier there? I would definitely be interested to hear about that. Okay, and then, I think another community that we were talking about, that I know, Tom, you brought this up? How was it working with vendors and the communities that they have? Do you want to illustrate that a little bit more for our audience?
How was it working with vendors and the communities that they have?
Yeah, what it is, is that when you're like a big software company or hardware company, they don't have the ability to kind of get down into these local communities. So they are willing to help you develop that. And they often have fun learning development funds. I was at Asti and I helped build their first mark developing fund program. And that's an attempt by a hardware and software company, to reach businesses and educate them so that they build demand at the small business level for your services.
And then they can kind of create a really nice play for your business because they're gonna help draw customers into you, but they're gonna rely on you for a piece and then they're gonna provide a piece and the piece they're gonna rely on for you, is to kind of tap into those communities you have, and then provide lists so you can grow them and then they're going to provide that marketing help and money to put on say, a lunch and learn.
Yeah, absolutely. They're looking for access to the small, medium, and small businesses that you're working with, right? That's the whole partner channel strategy. So why wouldn't they help enable you? Right?
Yeah, so I think that they're trying to leverage your community in this case, and they're oftentimes providing some amazing content. That's something that we've kind of dealt with a lot with our clients. They get approached for market development funds, or I think a lot of the great vendors in the MSP space, they're gonna be like, I'm going to come and give a webinar, and I'm going to be a member of your team and I'm going to give a super exciting webinar.
And we've had some really, really great webinar speakers. But that actually requires you to leverage your own community, and a lot of times, the vendors will actually, give you an ad spend to advertise and get your own word out there. And I think that is one strategy. And you can see the vendors doing it.
But what I'd love to see is like MSPs, do the opposite. You know what I mean, do the reverse of it. And maybe as an MSP, you go to, like an accountant and say, I want to partner with you and all your customers. And I want to offer training to all of your customers to provide some value to them. So I think it's like vendors are doing that, I think they're doing a great example of it.
And I think there's a benefit to being on both sides. That's kind of something that MSPs get focused on, like, I'm going to do a webinar. So I need to go out and build the list. And the vendors can come and do the talk for me. And that works great. But I'd love to see an MSP say, what, I'm not going to build the list, I'm going to find an awesome list, and I'm going to bring the amazing content.
Yeah, I guess how can you leverage that vendor. And I only say that because man, Miller brought up a point that, the chamber and the big BNI are both useful to him, but they tended to be smaller projects. And he had to start working with a sales agency to target larger accounts.
And I do wonder, being on the vendor side of it, how are there ways in which vendors can help connect MSPs to those larger accounts, like, nationally based accounts versus going for the Geos? If you're looking for that kind of expansion? I don't know about you guys, I know, we didn't prepare for that question.
How can vendors help connect MSPs to those larger, nationally based accounts?
Yeah, I kind of think that this is an issue that all MSPs face where a lot of the local business groups by nature are going to have a little bit smaller businesses, because people who go to BNI, they're kind of got their boots to the ground, or whatever, they're working it, you know what I mean, and a lot of times it is smaller businesses.
But I think when you go to a national level, and you look at the stuff that we're all doing together. So we've got this massive audience, right MSPs, all across North America, all across the world, we can really target a lot of different businesses within that, where locally, it's a lot smaller. So I think it's kind of like a customer-focused versus business-focused strategy.
I think a lot of what Zomentum has done. We're going to create this product that is for MSPs. Now we're going to create a sales enablement platform and try to market to everyone in our local area, saying we're going to create a sales enablement platform specifically for MSPs. And I think that how MSPs can kind of consider that is like, we've had a lot of clients that have had great success with like, CMMC consultant, and it's not just for businesses in their local area, it's nationally, and they put a lot of effort into their own business, to hire a chief information security officer to hire all these people that are required to do this eMMC consulting, but then they can go national with it.
And that's where they're able to access some of the larger organizations, it's like your local BNI, even your local association of accounting and tax professionals might not be that great, but what if you could go-to partner with the number one accounting software for whatever accountants use, and be able to sell to those customers nationally. So I think there are some challenges there where you have to consider, “do I only work with local businesses? Or can I have a solution that maybe is focused more on a specific customer type that I can deliver remotely?”
And I think we've seen a lot of MSPs shift. That does open up these large organizations a little bit more.
Yeah, and as you were talking that made me start thinking about maybe targeting some of the low vertical-specific local businesses to its accounts. And doing research prior to finding out, do they have regional tiers and the National tier because maybe if you get a footing and speak on the local level, those people can start making introductions on your behalf so that you can go and speak to for like the regional one for all of like, New England or the Northeast or whatever it may be right so that you are starting to cast that wide or not?
I can tell you one thing, how it works is when you're looking for that local business, and you're looking for accountants to work for law firms, or banks or whatever, look for them in those particular businesses. Research them and find someone maybe, as I did, I did the legal network for a guy who was the president of Virginia Bar Association for years. So I was able to leverage his contacts within that larger organization.
So if you're working with an accountant, find out what software they use, get familiar with it, get certified in it, and then leverage the contacts they have to the software they use, to maybe see what that company can do for you. There are a lot of ways to work it up the chain once you're in with professionals that are within a certain vertical.
Absolutely. You have a really great story that I think relates to what Tom was talking about. In some cases of relationships and like 10 Gentle businesses, if you will, where you were working to help one of your MSPs who work specifically with recruiting firms, right?
Yeah. I think kind of what we learned there was when you want to start researching a market, you need to dig deep. So I've got a process that I do for my own business, that I ask all of our clients to do when they're going to gain some type of market authority or leverage some type of existing community that exists.
And the number one thing that you need to do is go ahead and look for these communities.
- Where are they?
- What are they?
So, the first thing that you're going to want to do is go into Google and look up ‘Accounting Association near me’, and things like that. And I think there's a lot of stuff you're going to find on Google. But what I've learned is really not everything is on Google, you know what I mean? And If most of the stuff is not on Google, you're not going to find it at all. So, for example, when I started doing this for MSPs, and I was looking around, I found that the major thing is - I gotta get on data's blog. If I'm not on a data blog, then there are no other opportunities for me. What I found after being in the space for four years is, I could probably make a list of over 100 Different communities within the MSP space, and probably over 50% of them are looking for content.
This is what happened when one of our clients was looking for recruitment firm organizations, and they're actually a UK company. They're an MSP, they focus specifically on recruitment firms. And they went through Google, they found the top organizations, national recruitment groups, where all the recruitment firms are a part of, and they had some calls with some of the people they found on the list. All calls went terrible, they were all just looking for sponsorship opportunities.
They all had like three or four IT firms that they already partnered with. So they weren't even kind of getting exclusive content. And they were like, “I don't know if this is like a good fit for me.” So what I did is I reached out to another marketing firm that I know in the UK, that happens to focus specifically on recruitment firms as well. And we talked to him for 30 minutes, he gave us a list of 20 places, and he's like, “these guys will have you do a webinar, these guys want to get those from you and reach out to these guys. Oh, that one was called don't join them, that won't get you anywhere. But here's another one that you can join. They've still got 5000 members, and it's only $500 instead of $5,000 joining fee.”
So I think what we've learned throughout the space is just kind of being in the MSP space for a long time, there are tons and tons of opportunities. And it's not just IT nation and getting on Dantos blog. There are a lot more opportunities out there like I wouldn't have found if I was just searching Google. What I found is the Zomentum webinar series.
This has a pretty committed community. This has people showing up to these events every week. So I think it's about kind of really digging deep. And yeah, our shortcut was to try to find some people who are also leveraging that same type of business, and that are not direct competitors to you. So you wouldn't reach out to another IP firm and say, “Hey, what are all the accounting groups you're a part of, I want to join them too.”
If it's engineers, you can reach out to an accounting firm that only works with engineers. I've seen a lot of these guys myself, right? I'm connected with a lot of the CFOs that work only with MSPs. I'm connected with a lot of the sales coaches that only work with MSPs. They've helped reach out to this person named Nate “I'm presenting at this place, it actually didn't do that good. You don't want to do that.” “I'm going to my first this trade show, I'll tell you how it goes.” So, I think you want to find these other people who are not direct competitors but are also trying to leverage the same community, build relationships with them.
Yeah, that's an important point about remembering where to spend our time, when we can talk to those other professionals, who will tell us about events that are cool and worth going to, things like that. But I love that those 10 Dental businesses have like, Okay, we have a marketing agency that targets the vertical that you're going after? Terrell right? I'm gonna use you as an example.
And so then you can start networking with them to understand where they are finding those members that you would like to start marketing to. And I should say marketing, because it might be confusing, as in this example. But selling too right and I think it's all about Finances.
It's not saying like, I want access to your customer's marketing agency, so that I can work them over to it's like, “Hey, I'm just starting out trying to target the insurance agency, I see that you're a marketing agency that works with insurance agencies, could I get 15 minutes of your time find out like, what sort of groups and network activities do you find valuable? Any tips?”
Really make it about building the relationship. I think that's the next step that I want to underline for everybody. Once you do that outreach, it really does need to be genuine about learning. That was something that I even when I messaged, Tommy, right. Like last fall, I was like, “Hey, I'm new to the channel community. And I'm looking to learn so could we just have like, a getting to know you sort of meeting.” I could tell that they were naturally social guys who are connectors. And those are the people that you're looking for who are going to be open to these sorts of things.
I can tell you from my perspective. The first person I connected to was Nigel Moore, who runs the tech tribe. And I was like, “Hey, Nigel, I want to focus on working with MSPs.” He wrote back to me and he's like, “No, it's way too hard like no market will succeed here.” And I was like, alright, but you know what, I wrote him back. And eventually, we connected. And then my first big break was connecting with his community back in 2017. So just like reaching out and finding some of these people.
I would say one thing when you're figuring out an industry or vertical you want to be in or you have expertise. And one thing that’s really important is to get started on developing vertical-specific pages on the website and vertical-specific materials like flyers and, and brochures and that kind of thing.
Because then I'm painting myself as an expert, I'm showing that if you bring me on, I've done this before. I've got testimonials and references related to it. I've got content on my website, showing the certifications. I have a say in your accounting software. And then I have other clients that do this, because I'll tell you what, when someone's thinking about going with you, if they know you can prove to them that you actually work with others like them, they're gonna feel much more comfortable than you can handle their business. And so putting that out there is going to go a long way
Yep, we just did something like that. We have a client, who joined their local construction association there. It's called their local Subcontractors Association for their state. We put together a flyer just like a trifold flyer, wrote a letter. He joined. And, he has got the member list as an associate member of the group and mailed it to everybody right away.
Somebody responded, and they signed up with him. So I think it doesn't even have to be too crazy. But you're showing like, “Hey, we're dedicated to supporting you guys. We know about it, and we want to help.” It definitely goes a long way.
Yeah, absolutely. And before we get into some more outreach tips, I wanted to ask Tom, I think you were offering up kind of like a shortcut hack for everyone where you had a list of some communities that you felt like had been the best effort for you. And I think you wanted to share that kind of rundown with everyone.
Yeah, I did. But at first, I want to go into one of the comments about BNI in the chamber and limited results. The first thing is I was in BNI for my first three years. Then once I brought salespeople in, I always had someone at BNI. But I will tell you something about BNI. Don't get locked into one group. I know you can only join one group at a time but you can visit others, do those visits as much as possible.
And then you find a better group. Don't be afraid to leave and go to it. And the other thing is, if you don't take a leadership position if you don't stand up and speak a lot, don't expect to get a lot of business from it, it's not going to work out that great. You have to be in a situation where they see your front and center as one of the leaders, as one of the people making decisions that have some kind of authority, that's what's really going to carry the most weight.
“And then you find a better group. Don't be afraid to leave and go to it. And the other thing is, if you don't take a leadership position if you don't stand up and speak a lot, don't expect to get a lot of business from it, it's not going to work out that great.”
In the Chamber of Commerce, this is especially true. Joining the chamber and going to events alone is not enough. If you don't join the particular Commission and groups within the chamber and get leadership positions, you're unlikely to be able to leverage those communities very well. People there want to see that not only do you have goods and services, but you're out front leading which gives them confidence in you.
And I do find that the MSPs I've worked with, want to join something, sit back and just attend. And I can tell you right now, it's not even worth joining if you're not going to stand up and say, “Hey, I'm here to contribute. You guys have a technology commission, I'd like to be on that, join it, and try to work up to being the director or president or leader of that commission within it.”
Now, secondly, I like to talk about these communities, I really leverage that one successfully. And you'll all probably find that there'll be a university or college in your area, they almost always have some type of outreach business programs to help grow businesses or incubators and that kind of thing. I joined the one from George Mason University in my area. And I got involved in leadership. And then we got together with the Kauffman Foundation, out of Kansas City. And we developed 1 Million Cups in our area, which was for startups.
And so I was one of the two people leading 1 Million Cups for several years. I was the person coordinating businesses moving into the area, and getting a voice. And so that brought me a ton of business. The other one was your local government. They are almost always going to have boards and commissions underneath them in your town council or your county supervisors.
I joined the Technology Communications Commission in my local community, in the government, and I worked my way up to being the commissioner of it. And when you do that, you end up getting free press as well. It all goes back to the same thing. I didn't join any community, any group unless I had any intention of reaching a leadership level in it, because I didn't believe it was worthwhile otherwise. And at that point, you could be a part of just a few groups and get much more effective instead of joining say 10, and doing nothing.
Absolutely. Even when I was trying to get out word for my marketing consultancy, I had a to-do essentially, right? Because again, this is almost like another pipeline, you're working a little bit in a way like I would have a month in my calendar once a month. It was like checking these calendars finding out what events were going on with the different groups that I was monitoring.
And that just came to expand more and more where it started out with maybe like three groups. And then it was just like 15, I would go check the calendars to find out what events were going on. It was consistently at those events that when I did offer to speak, the event organizer knew me because I would seek them out and talk to them. And so it was just a simple, yes.
But just a reminder there about being consistent and being vocal and being out there. But even if you have to create something like a little rinky-dink calendar event, that's a reminder to go check those event calendars, that was actually very valuable to me to keep me consistent in that knee. I know that you have some really great outreach tips in terms of how you help people with their scripting. I know that you're really great with video pitches and using like, bom bom. So wanted to ask you a little bit about that and kind of give a breakdown for everyone there like, what you would recommend with outreach.
What would you recommend to increase outreach?
I think kind of this type of outreach was, number one - you've got like cold outreach. Where you're doing some type of strategy where you're just cold calling, you're mailing them something in the mail, and then cold calling, maybe you're emailing and then calling. I think with all these types of outreaches some of the issues are that you're kind of bothering people by just trying to sell to them and it's pretty transparent.
And I think sometimes that works because you're showing that you're a go-getter, you're very active. And if someone kind of thinks like, “Yeah, I could use somebody like this as my IT provider. You know, my current IT provider, I can't even get them on the phone. So yeah, if someone is so aggressive in this part, I might want them as my IT company.” but I think some of the drawbacks there are that you don't have any real connection.
So I think associations, groups are just an awesome way to do this type of outreach. You know what I mean? And definitely like Bom Bom is a tool that I use a lot. I want to share like my first Bom Bom video, that I sent to Nigel. I will share that with you guys at some point. Everyone, follow me, if you guys want to see like the worst video of all time. You will see it. But, at least it was like whoa, Nate's like really serious. Bom Bom is like a video email tool, you can use loom it's really similar. Basically, you record a video, “Hey, it's Nate here.” And there are like people aks, Can I do record once and send it to everybody? Really doesn't work as well. You know what I mean?
I think when you're doing a group, a lot of times, if you're calling outreach, you get a list of 5000 businesses, you can't do it. But if you've got a group that you've joined, and there's 250 members, take the time to outreach to each one of them. The example I showed you where he hand wrote a letter, he didn't addressed every envelope and and signed each letter, sent it out to 250 of them, that got one customer with just that tactic, right?
Now imagine if he emails, everybody records a video and says, “Hey, it's Nate from IT support. We just joined the association that you guys are a member of - So you guys are located here. - We're located here. - I grew up there. - Have you ever been to my parents' pizza place? - It's this one, I grew up right around the corner. - Anyway, we're both member or we're both members or I'm a new member looking to connect with everyone. - Do you have 15 minutes?”
This is just like a super easy way to connect with somebody. And that's going to eventually lead to a strong relationship, and then they will be able to buy from you later on when the time is right. I think some of the other ways are mailing somebody, like I said, and then just building authority. Using strategic partnerships, I think a lot of times outreach is always focused on. I'm trying to get the end customer. I'm going to go directly to my customer. But like my example of recording video and sending it to Nigel Moore from the tech tribe was - he's not going to be my customer, but he might be able to connect me.
So we have had clients who have been the IT provider for the associations. So focus on outreach, and they're like, hey, you guys are in association, we have a program for associations where we offer like highly discounted IT services, or we have a scholarship program or some way where you're not necessarily just discounting it, but we want to be your IT provider, and just having kind of a reason for contacting somebody. And I think associations, groups, existing communities, these give you real reasons, because if you're just like, “Hey, you look like someone who I could get money from.” That's just pretty transparent, and people can see it.
Yeah, I think what all this speaks to, is that, all these communities and groups out there, they are all looking for people, they're all looking for content, they're all looking for speakers, promotions, everything. And when you and what needs speaking to what I hear the common theme is, when you have a plan, and you create something, you package it up, and you come to someone, it's very hard to say no.
I'm going to tell you something as a former MSP, it's very important, and you probably shouldn't do it yourself, and should get some help. And here's why; you're IT technicians in your business, you're not marketing professionals. And if you want people to really pay attention to what you put in front of them, and want to buy into it and have you speak to their people, it needs to have that professional touch. Which you're really only going to get from working with professionals in the area.
But I will tell you, as an MSP, I put a lot of garbage out there that I wish I could go back in time and erase, as that was not quality marketing. And it was because I was doing it in-house and we were not consulting marketing people. So take that to heart and spend a couple 100 bucks to put together a nice PowerPoint presentation and have someone do it professionally. Pay a couple 1000 bucks to really put together a full package of things. It's gonna pay off because those materials you produce with someone else are going to be reusable, whereas the stuff you produce probably wasn't.
I actually agree with that. And I think it's not necessarily that like how like beautiful looks, but like when I've like reviewed some and we have clients, they'll send me stuff like how do you go about this, I think the tendency for a lot of like MSPs is to like, I'm going to make it so that the whole pitch is gonna, ‘Why you need to hire an MSP? Why you need to hire?’
And I think all that type of stuff is transparent and MSPs they're kind of it's hard to see the value in what they can really provide, because they're so into the weeds. And it's like a lot of the stuff that you just take for granted. Why don't you just teach that to your audience because they might not know it, you know? So like, for example, it's like people want to give a presentation on cybersecurity. I'm like, why don't you just tell them like, tell a story about what you guys have actually seen and how they can prevent it like number one thing that I keep hearing is that like the number one phishing attack that companies are falling for is that they are getting this request from the CEO to buy these gift cards, and then send them the gift cards back and like this happens a lot. It's not a multimillion dollar phishing attempt that is not going to drain their entire bank account. But it could be a few $1,000, and it's pretty easy for people to fall for that.
And small businesses fall for it. So like, what I would do if I'm giving a presentation is I wouldn't like to dig into all the national data. I'd be like, “Look, these are the phishing attacks that people have really fallen for, this is what phishing is. If you guys get anything from this presentation, go tell your employees, I'll never ask you to buy a gift card.” And I would offer free training on this and how to do it. And then I think at the end of it, you're going to inspire the listeners and they're gonna say, “You know what, that was pretty cool.”
I like what Terrell's talking about. I like what Alex is talking about, I didn't know I needed security, but he probably knows a lot more than that. I'm gonna reach out to him. But I think if people see your presentation, and there are 10 reasons why you should hire an MSP, then they're going to be like, Well, this guy clearly just doesn't have my best interests in mind. They're just trying to sell to me.
So that's the mistake that I've seen is like, MSPs, they kind of wanted like, I know, I need to get in, I'm not good at selling. I'm not going into marketing. So I'm going to super sell. Yeah, it's like, you don't need to. Just like be yourself and try to help and kind of have this health first mindset. And I think those are going to be like the best presentations where you're providing value.
You don't want to tell them like, hey, this, we use no before, and you guys can sign up directly with no before. And this is how much it costs and you don't need us. But you're gonna say these are the major things that you need to do. And these are some of the things you're going to learn. And you look, it's in a 30 minute presentation. You guys probably have hours and hours to really get through everything. So even if you try to give everything away, you can't know what I mean? And they're definitely not going to take it all in.
Shannon, I wanted to touch on something I talked about earlier, I think it's really important. It plays into all this. So I mentioned I built this MDF program at axcient. What we would do is we would put it out there and send an email to our partners that we had money that we’re willing to do it for you. But it wasn't just money. What it was is we would let you apply for MDF fund. But we first look at whether you have a plan of something you want to do: an event, a webinar, a luncheon, learn something like that, and, or maybe an after work thing.
And then we would look for someone who had a plan and had some level of organization, we would vet the MSP to make sure it looked like they've been around for a while and had multiple employees, that kind of thing. The next thing we would do is if we prove them, we would actually leverage all of our marketing capabilities. And so we would create the deck. And we asked the emcee for the materials, we created the deck that we would give back to them they could use for later on. And then I would fly out and co-present with the MSP.
You can imagine the benefits because then they can advertise, they've got someone from this big company coming out and an expert in this field. They can utilize that, they get a deck out of it, they get to see the process of producing it. It basically is a level of free marketing skill brought and project planning brought to the MSP. And I can tell you, I've been in touch with a lot of these MCs I worked with doing this program, they're still leveraging those tools we gave them. And in that process, we gave them something and they learned something through it.
And the interesting thing is, all they had to do was pay for like half the Lunch and Learn we paid for the other half and brought all the marketing skills with us. So don't be afraid when you're talking to your vendors, especially the ones you've been with for years you have contracts with, don't be afraid to say to them, “Hey, listen, I have an event I want to do on this date. And I'd really like your help with it. And we'd like to talk about your products and what they can do for our clients. Here's our plan.”
How do we apply to help you guys have you guys helped us out with that? You won't believe even if they don't have a formal program, you will not believe how much interest you'll get from that. Because you're showing a very proactive and planned response. And almost anyone in a software company will buy into that at some level. It's very unusual. They don't even have a formal plan for it.
Absolutely, and as somebody who works at a software company and has worked at many software companies, we usually give over to requests for help. But even if you do initially get some hesitation, reminding them that this is something that they can templatize out and scale to other partners, right?
I'm only asking because I think other partners would find this extremely helpful when selling x product. That's like you've set a sail on there too. And once you have those materials in hand, going to other vendors and saying, Tom over axcient made this for me, do you guys think you could do something similar?
Janet also said to them, when you go to that first company, you say, “Listen, we want to do this event and we believe that we can bring 30 attendees in, and we can close five of them, and it's going to produce this much revenue and we're going to buy this many more licenses from you.” They will eat that up. Absolutely.
And then once you do that with one company, you go to the next company, like you did it with, actually, you go to SonicWALL, and say, “Hey, listen, let me tell you what we did over here. It's not security but let me tell you what we did with that company, and how well it worked out for us. And for them, I think we can do the same thing if we do an event with you.” And then I would even hit up some of these events, where some of these very, very well established MSPs had leveraged two or more vendors at the same time. So we ended up paying for the whole event. The MSP is not on the hook for anything. We come in with all of our marketing prowess and money and pay for everything. And everyone works out well. And the IT companies are happy even though we paid for everything, the MSPs are happy it works out. So it's incredible how well you can do this when you leverage it the right way.
Absolutely, that's my conclusion right there. Leveraging these communities, right? That's pretty much it right there. Like we're talking about doing it on the dislike of small local level NGOs. But how you can tap regional and national organizations, and then even work with vendors, or the like, who have those marketing resources. As you mentioned, Tom, where you're like, if I had a time machine, I would not have created all of those materials myself, right?
How to tap into regional and national organizations and then work with vendors?
There's some really bad postcards out there. Please remember I had us go back in the early 2000s. But yeah, they still work. But I look at them now. And I'm like, if I had worked with a marketing agency, I would have done a series of these postcards that told a story and not all these one off ones I did.
That's one-off the situation they can speak of, that one-off tendency by so many small businesses kills. You put all this effort into one thing, you make it, there's no follow through. Then you try to do the same thing the next year, in a different one off situation, and it doesn't have that flow. It doesn't connect the dots and doesn't tell a story. And so you end up back at this drawing board every time.
It’s kind of like a theme that I'm hearing from you as well, Tom. And that's silly. I totally agree with this, that this is a large b2b sale, you know what I mean? This is not something where you're going to go and get like 20 sales in a week. This is something where you've got to do a lot. It's not just joining one BNI and showing up to the meetings or just being a participant, it's joining the BNI becoming a leader and going to all the related BNIs.
If you're going to market to a group, it's showing up to the group, doing one meeting during a meeting, the next during one lunch and Learn, the next during one of the next year marketing to everyone in between, and getting multiple touches. So I think, yeah, everything that we've learned in MSP marketing is not easy. It's not just like, you're going to do something and get results from one thing. You need to do a lot and you need to do it consistently.
So I think yeah, relating to groups, and then just relating to just your general marketing is like yeah, feels super lucky that our client got the one client from the 250 members of his Construction Association after the first letter, but no, we're not going to stop there. You know what I mean, if that was it, that wouldn't be that great. This is now a pool where he can continue to send people specials, he can see them at the event. “Oh, yeah, I got your letter, again, nice to meet you.” You know what I mean? And there's so much more he can do with it. So yeah, don't stop.
One more thing that follows on to that is that these communities you join in, they want to see you as the owner, they don't want to see a revolving number of people. It's got to be your face and building authority and building following what you do. And so I got to a point where my MSP is about 10 years in and I sold it at 15 years, where I exit so that I can focus on growing businesses and closing deals, because I realized that I was for a while. I got in the habit of sending different salespeople out or sending the office manager or whoever, to events. And then it wasn't me there and it didn't build that continuity. It didn't build that seeing that same face.
It's really a sacrifice you have to make in your business at some point as an MSP owner, but when you do it, that's when this stuff really starts to gel and come together. When you are the real face of your company. And people see you as the one they should buy from. That's when they seek you out. That's when you're really going to leverage it. And it's a hard decision to make. But if you really want to scale up big time, it's one you're probably got to make at some point.
Yeah, absolutely brilliant point to end on. Like, we're leveraging these communities, it builds authority for you. And ultimately, all of this outbound work that you've put in is going to come back to you in terms of inbound, right? because people see you, know you and recognize you and trust you as a result. The marketing game is building trust that we can make sales.
So we have a few minutes left, I did want to ask the group here that we have on, you guys are pretty quiet. We don't have any q&a. And so I, could fodder in some, some random questions, but what I actually would love to know from you guys is, what did we address that you were looking to hear about? What do we not address that we're looking at here? Like, if you don't have any questions? Do we completely hit the mark? Or, what are some things that maybe you would have wanted to hear about, I would love that feedback. We are tough, we can handle it.
Shannon, I just, I have one more thing I'd like to speak about here. And I kind of touched on it, I would just really watch out kind of bouncing around to two different groups from joining too many things, you're really better off. I mean, I look back at it. I got BNI in my early years. And then I put a salesperson who earlier wrote really well, but later on it was about finding the right chamber and getting leadership.
And then it was along with that and the local university in that small business development group. And then the local government. So I ended up at the end of my career as a fee owner with three of them that I leveraged really well. And I put all my energy into those three in the last several years of time. And that's what enabled me to sell my business. But I wasn't at that point, I was only really attending three things. I was just a commissioner of the technology Communications Commission for local government. And I was then on 1 Million Cups and George Mason small business group. And then I was in this technology commission at a big chamber in the DC area. That's it, I wasn't in 10 things I was in three at the end, that was enough to keep me entirely busy. But if I had done any more than that, I would have had to sacrifice one of those in some way.
Yeah, I think that's an awesome point. And that's another thing that I hear a lot, be like Nate, okay, we want to launch these four niche campaigns. And I'm like, “You know what, why don't instead of launching, let's just go really heavy into one, and let's find the right one and really get you visibility in there, then if we've totally maxed it out and you're the IT provider for every construction company in your state, then we can move on to the next one.”
But let's kind of focus on one and see how far we can get with it. And it sounds like yeah, you had a few, like great ones, and like even more time. And yeah, one at a time and kind of instead of doing it this one didn't work. I think sometimes they don't work. And I think that's another great point that Tom found the good chambers, my own experience, like I started, six or seven years ago, I was doing marketing for vending companies and vending machine companies.
After kind of banging my head against the wall for like six months. I was like, you know what, I think my MSP clients might be a better shift for me to really dig into. And then when I found out about all the communities and how deep it went, I was like, this is a great space for me. So I do think there's kind of a little bit of testing, but not just giving up after one and then when you do find a good one, stick with it.
Yeah, I think that these are important points, like Tom's strategy evolved throughout his business in terms of where he was spending his time. And I think Nate too, you're absolutely right, you can test it, maybe initially you go wide. And it's then finding, I did the same thing, right, like I told you, I was checking all those calendars, but there were the ones that I prioritized, that I knew were important to me and appropriate fit and others that were maybe just nice to have.
And to Charlie's point, he said sometimes he's questioning himself where he's spending his time and to be spending it wisely. I think at least I'm just speaking for myself, something that can be a distraction. Terrell is like, maybe really enjoys, like some of the people in the group that are great socially, but maybe won't be good for your business or they're always the people that like to ask you questions.
And it's like, maybe it's like a free consultation every time you see them. But at a certain point, like you have to kind of get wise and say like maybe they're not gonna actually buy from me. I don't know what you guys think about that but ,Tom, like having been an MSP, right? Are there times that when you have groups that you felt like there were those guys that were always chumming it up with you and asking you questions, but never were gonna buy.
Yeah, and for the ones watching out I'll be honest with you, if there's like, a ton of residential real estate agents and people making gift baskets or things like that, get out of those groups. Don't spend your time on that. Don't spend the time when people are kicking the tires on things.
Tell someone, “Hey, listen, I'll give you a free hour of my time, tech wise, I'll come over and evaluate your network. If they don't bite on that, then be like, hey, here's the charge.” I mean, go straight to the money. When you have to make sure people are legitimate. Don't spend time in groups that aren't property to you. And where you're spending more time and there's no payoff. Give it some time, but then don't be afraid to cut it out. And sometimes there's friendships that develop. But if you're just doing it for the friendships and you're not getting business out of it, you're going to have to make a sacrifice and probably go somewhere else.
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I think we're at a time or a little over. Thank you, everybody, for joining us. I appreciate it so much.
Feel free to follow up with us. I am Shannon Murphy email@example.com, Nate Freedman firstname.lastname@example.org . He has some really awesome, cool templates and scripts that you should definitely hit him up for as he was showing me all of them while we were crafting this. And then Tom, email@example.com.
Yeah, and I do some MSP consulting, leaving the marketing stuff more than eight minds more on the operations and sales side. So more than happy to talk to you guys, if you want to talk about how you can leverage some of what I know, I have also done a webinar series called MSP live chats with Ninja for the last two years. So you can see me there as well.
Yeah, yeah. Awesome. Anything you want to add?
No, just feel free to email me. I've got a few scripts, if you saw them in my video on LinkedIn, just wanting to get access to those. I'll send you that. And the training that we've done internally goes into some of this stuff a little bit, some different directions as well.
But this was, this was great. Thank you, Tom, for sharing your experience. I think you really solve some things about BNI. For me, I think like, You cleared it up, and we get these questions a lot. And I think that was super helpful to kind of understand that there's some good ones, there's some bad ones. And, you need to figure out the right ones for you.
And that BNI is not bad but there is somewhere you've got to get gift baskets. You gotta get out of those, but there are ones that don't have gift baskets.
Yeah. And stressing that to figuring it out, right? It's a process. There's no decoder ring for finding out which ones are going to be worth your time. I do love needs tip about you know, talk to those that are working your vertical in a non-competitive business. That's probably your biggest shortcut, I would say right there in terms of finding out which ones are worth your time.
Okay, guys, hope you have a lovely rest of your day and a wonderful weekend. And again, thank you for being with us.
Thank you, guys. Alright, bye.