Now that 70%+ of the typical B2B buying cycle is over before decision-makers contact any vendor, it’s critical for all businesses, including managed service providers (MSPs), to use content marketing to get found in these initial searches.

A while back, I gave a talk to the Boca Raton HubSpot User Group (HUG) on the Top 14 Ways to Prepare Your HubSpot Inbound Campaigns for the new year. Because the organization was brand new and we were unsure what kind of attendance to expect at the first meeting – fortunately, the meeting was well attended -- I opted to pinch hit as the presenter for the first meeting, rather than request a speaker from HubSpot headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

For this crowdsourced presentation, I reached out to a diverse mix of inbound marketing and content marketing thought leaders, including HubSpot executives and managers, principals at other HubSpot Partner agencies, and other HubSpot User Group leaders.

While I originally had only planned to share the presentation with our local Boca Raton HubSpot User Group and its social media channels, the feedback that I got from the meeting drove home the point that many of our SP Home Run constituencies, or personas if you will, could benefit from these content marketing strategies.

So here’s a quick recap of the top 14 MSP content marketing strategies:

  1. “Your success in inbound marketing is much more about the width of your brain than the width of your wallet.” Brian Halligan, CEO & Founder, HubSpot, Cambridge, Massachusetts || For managed service providers that are creating content around branded search terms, such as content on supported IT products or platforms, it’s critical that you work smarter. Why? Because you’ll often be competing for organic search traffic with vendors and industry trade publications – both of which are likely to have thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of relevant, authoritative inbound links.

  2. “Get comfortable sharing useful information that is uncomfortably honest that you'd want to read yourself.” Dharmesh Shah, Chief Technology Officer & Founder, HubSpot, Cambridge, Massachusetts || While the classic reveal may center around publishing a list of employee salaries or financial results for a privately held company, there are many other creative ways to stand out from the crowd with uncomfortably honest inbound marketing.

  3. “A great blog that is helpful (not promotional) is the cornerstone of a basic inbound strategy.  A blog powers SEO and social media.” Mike Volpe, Chief Marketing Officer, HubSpot, Cambridge, Massachusetts || It’s hard to believe, but there are still lots of MSPs whose marketing plans are stuck in 2005. Blogging is critical for attracting targeted website visitors, inbound links, and social sharing – while establishing thought leadership. And blogging works. Did you know that if you blog more than once a day, you have a 90%+ chance of acquiring clients from your blog? This stat comes right out of the HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing research.

  4. “As an executive tackling the inbound marketing journey, think less about blogging personally every day and more about hiring a journalist to interview the thought leaders across your company and turn the conversations into blog articles. Very few people, including themselves, realize that journalists hold the keys to the future of demand generation.” Mark Roberge, SVP Sales and Services, HubSpot, Cambridge, Massachusetts || All too often, I see CEOs of small- and mid-sized managed service providers trying to handle most or all of the blogging themselves. This can be a big mistake as much of success with blogging is about quantity, just as much as quality, of remarkable content. Blogging inconsistently a few times a month just isn’t going to move the needle very much.

  5. “The businesses that are the best educators will be the most successful.” Mark Kilens, Leader of HubSpot Academy, HubSpot, Cambridge, Massachusetts || When you think of your blog posts and premium content offers as ways to teach your stakeholders about solutions to their pain points, you position your company as an educator. This builds trust. Done consistently, your company becomes seen as a trusted technology and business advisor, rather than just the garden-variety MSP.

  6. “While planning your inbound strategy, always solve for the customer #SFTC” Sarah Papachristos, HubSpot User Groups (HUG) Manager, HubSpot, Cambridge, Massachusetts || In other words, when in doubt about what to prioritize with your content marketing strategy, think about what’s best for delighting your clients.

  7. “Integrate inbound marketing from social to sales to customer service using Social Inbox -- with the trend being that customers and businesses will find it more and more seamless to stay engaged as they switch from in-person encounters to sharing on social and by phone.” Julie Vetter, Co-Founder, Hoi Moon Marketing, HubSpot Paris User Group, Paris, France || While it can be very difficult to stay on top of the fire hose of status updates that come across most Twitter streams, the HubSpot Social Monitoring tool – also known as Social Inbox, can be hugely helpful in shining a spotlight on social status updates that matter most. By using HubSpot Smart Lists to segment by clients and prospects, you can monitor and more rapidly respond to Tweets from key stakeholders in the proper context.

  8. “When buyers find you, follow their process.” Carole Mahoney, Founder, Mahoney Internet Marketing, HubSpot User Group Maine, Portland, Maine || In other words, when a potential client offers to help you navigate its bureaucracy, embrace the guidance. When a potential client has a certain methodology or set of jargon that must be taken into account, follow their lead.

  9. “Look at your content and make sure you have a great recipe for how to repurpose and re-promote your content as many ways as possible. Less content in more formats, plus more promotion, equals greater productivity.” Dan Kraus, President, Leading Results, Charlotte, North Carolina || 100% agree. Most small- and mid-sized MSPs often create remarkable content that relatively few people end up seeing…which is a shame because, in front of the right eyeballs, that content could be a game-changer. By recycling content into many different formats across many different channels, you greatly increase your chances of getting the right information in front of the right decision-makers at the right time.

  10. “Don't be afraid to combine inbound with outbound follow-up.” Howard Lothrop, Founder, Echo Partners, Germantown, Tennessee || While inbound selling can be a very powerful strategy in most high-ticket B2B contexts, such as multi-year managed service agreements, leads usually can’t close themselves. Sales-ready leads save a ton of time, but, more often than not, still, require at least some outbound follow-up.

  11. “Begin with an editorial calendar. Focus your content on buyer personas. See what trigger points engage visitors and convert leads.” Robin Anderson, Marketing Consultant, Assero Resources, San Francisco, California || Rather than always scrambling to come up with blogging and white paper topics at the last minute, consider planning out 3 to 12 months in advance with an editorial calendar. This can be especially helpful if you want to write groups of related, themed blog posts – with an eye toward eventually grouping these related blog posts into eBooks or other premium content offers.

  12. “Blog + CTA => Landing page + form => Promote (email + social) = new leads!! Rock on!” Stephen Plotkin, Managing Partner, Indigo Inbound, Reading, United Kingdom || To generate new leads, start with a blog post and add a call to action (CTA). Send that website traffic to a landing page with a form. Then use email marketing and social media marketing promotions to drive traffic to the landing page. And as Plotkin points out, be sure to have fun by rocking on!

  13. “Take action daily. Constantly think of methods -- Tweets, posts, and emails -- to alert people to your business and drive eyeballs to your website. Get the correct mindset to be an Inbound Marketer.” Susan Bourke, Director, Product Launch Method, Sligo Ireland || Just like a fitness regimen, inbound marketing requires persistence with blog posts, social media status updates, and email messages that you use to drive website visitors back to your website.

  14. “Increase blogging team participation. Make it a rewarding experience for your employees, team, and organization with gamification and rewards. Understand that hard work and solid content strategy support the business goals.” Susan Nixon, Strategy Lead, Element Three, Indianapolis, Indiana || Getting each employee to contribute to the blog occasionally may not be as difficult as it sounds. Sometimes their participation can be “bought” for as little as a modest gift card and some appreciation and recognition.

  15. (Bonus MSP Content Marketing Strategy) “To be successful in inbound marketing, remember that all your prospects listen to the same radio station: WIFM (what's in it for me).” Douglas Burdett, Principal/Owner, ARTILLERY LLC, Hampton Roads HubSpot User Group, Norfolk, Virginia || Get used to using the word “you” a lot. Focus on solving the problems of your ideal buyers – not the internal problems of your own team.


So there you have it.

14+ top MSP content marketing strategies that you can use to:

  • Attract strangers and turn them into website visitors

  • Convert website visitors into leads

  • Close leads into new clients

  • Delight clients for long-term retention and activate them into promoters

Which MSP content marketing strategy have you found most valuable? What do you plan to implement right away to grow your managed services business? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.

And to follow through on the content marketing strategies introduced in this post, especially if your managed services firm also supports SaaS or IaaS, be sure to enroll now in our free 7-day eCourse: Go-to-Market Strategy 101 for B2B SaaS Startups and Scaleups.

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