The MSP Finance Team

EP063 – Mastering MSP Marketing with Devin Rose

Why Listen to This Episode?

Discover the essential MSP marketing tactics that can boost your lead generation.

Learn why having an up-to-date, secure website is crucial for your marketing success.

Get practical tips on leveraging SEO, Google Ads, and content marketing for your MSP.

Listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts

Connect with Devin Rose on LinkedIn by clicking here –

Connect with Daniel Welling on LinkedIn by clicking here –  

Connect with Adam Morris on LinkedIn by clicking here –

Visit The MSP Finance Team website, simply click here –

We look forward to catching up with you on the next one. Stay tuned!

We created It’s a Numbers Game Podcast to help MSP owners learn and understand how to build and maintain a financially healthy MSP business. In this podcast series, MSP business owners like you will learn the fundamental steps, the tips and tricks, the dos and don’ts to achieve MSP financial growth.


Dan: Hi, Devin. Great to have you with us. And, as we often do, before we hit the record button, we were talking a little bit about,your background and, and our topic for today and, really interested to hear about your MSP marketing playbook. And, perhaps, perhaps you could kick us off with, with what that looks like for you.

Devin: Yeah, thanks, Daniel. Yeah. So we have our MSP marketing playbook, which was really developed over time. because, you know, the question that I hear from a lot from MSPs when they’re contacting us is, you know, what sort of tactic should I be prioritizing? And I think one of the challenges with this industry in particular is that there isn’t one tactic that you can really rely upon.

It really is about building up your marketing mix and having all these different pieces working together in order to get a full funnel marketing program that is, you know, actually generating quality leads for you. so we developed this playbook to address that concern and, it’s just a list of tactics and I’ll say it’s roughly in priority order.

and the very first one is a little bit surprising because you might not even think of this as a marketing tactic. But the biggest thing that I recommend, the number one priority, is having your website, up to date, secure with, regular, plugins for WordPress or, whatever other CMS you’re using.

And the reason being is that if you get your website hacked as an MSP, It is like death to your marketing. you know, if you’re a company that is offering cybersecurity services and keeping small businesses, websites up to date yourself, then, you know, having your own website hacked is just, it’s a really terrible thing.

That’s really hard to come back from. So that is the number one thing. but then once that’s out of the way, you know, then the, we start to look at the website and. You know, the biggest priority on the website is making sure that on site SEO is up to speed. So really making sure that there’s no technical errors on the website.

There’s nothing hindering Google from going in and, you know, looking at your website and finding out what it’s all about. and also just like optimizing the website structure to make sure that it’s friendly to what Google wants to see with their best practices.and we have SEO tools that help us with that.

and you know, there’s some popular ones out there like SEM rush is what we use, but there’s some other ones out there as well. but really making sure that. The website is free of technical errors, so that when you are starting to do other advertising, or I should say, other SEO on the website, rather, whether it’s writing content, or, you know, even doing, off site SEO, that all that other work is going to be, you know, have maximal value, because if you’re writing good content on the website, it’s not going to matter if you have technical errors.

So that’s where we start off is doing on site SEO and making sure that there’s no sort of hindrances with what Google wants to see there.and you know, then we’re free and clear of SEO errors. We like to layer on a very small Google ads campaign. And I’ll preface this by saying that usually we don’t recommend A comprehensive Google Ads campaign, until later on in an engagement.

And the reason being is that in, in the MSP space is, I’m sure you guys are aware, like for Google Ads, some keywords can be 10, 15, $20 per click. And when you start backing that out into, you know, how much is that gonna cost me, per person who, who reaches out via contact form or phones. And then what’s the conversion rate for those people?

The cost per lead starts getting up there pretty quickly, and so we like to say that we don’t recommend spending money on advertising, generally, until the website is performing, on an organic basis first. however, there’s a small exception and that is for branded keywords. So essentially your brand name, your website, you want to be bidding on those to insulate yourself from your competitors, bidding on those, and then also website retargeting.

So anybody who visits your website, They, you know, the, the Google records who they are, and then you can serve them ads on when they’re browsing other websites. so that tends to be very highly targeted traffic. And, between the branded campaign and the website we’re targeting, it doesn’t tend to be a big spend.

We’re talking about the low hundreds of dollars per month for most MSPs.but it’s, it’s a worthwhile, endeavor there.and so then, you know, once we’re done with the Google ads, setting up those two campaigns, we look to the core website pages. So to me, the core website pages, we have the homepage, obviously for most MSPs, this is the most visited page they have.

and it’s the most important page, but then we also look at the about us page, which in my experience tends to be the second most visited page, on the website. Then the services pages. And then often, not thought about is the contact page, making sure it’s very easy for people who are coming to your website to convert,and the about us page, you know, and I’d be curious about your guys’s thoughts on this one too, but what I hear from a lot of MSPs is that they struggle to differentiate, you know, MSPs offer the exact same services often, and make the same claims in their marketing and it’s tough to differentiate.

But one way that they can do it is by highlighting their, themselves and their team and what makes them unique, whether it’s different certifications or experience in various industries or even extensive, you know, MSP experience, that can all come through on the about us page, and, you know, separate, that MSP from others and that they’re competing with, is that something that you guys hear as well from MSPs?


Dan: probably the only attribute I would add, which you sort of touched on is the actual individuals themselves, their personalities there. their interests,what, you know, ultimately conveying what it’s going to be like to work with them.

and, the old, cliche of people buy from people. I think is, it is still as true today as it always has been. and, and in fact, for our website, I’ve been busy writing notes by the way. So there’s a load of to do’s for me to do after we finished recording this episode, but,yeah, certainly, when we.

When we designed our website, we really put, our personalities and about us absolutely front and center,on our homepage. You don’t even have to go hunting around for who are the guys behind this business. You know, we’re there, they’re the first thing, we’re the first thing that people see when they,now some might say that’s actually,marketing suicide.

but, thankfully Adam and I are pretty easy on the eyes. So I think we’re, I think we’re okay with that strategy, but, be interested in your, in your assessment as well.

Devin: And you know, I find some MSP owners are not keen to put themselves, out there like that too. And, but you know, when you’re a small business, like you are your brand, you know, and that’s an important thing to keep into consideration. and one thing that we do on our own website is on our homepage at the very top of the page, we have caricatures that we had illustrated of our team.

That was a nice way for us, to kind of get our team front and center. but you know, if, and. And, but it wasn’t also, it also is a good way to maybe get around if you’re not so comfortable putting yourself up there like your own picture. Not that was the case with us to be honest, but like it is another way that you could do it is have like drawings of yourself and then that way, you know, you still have, you know, you’re so recognizable, but you’re not quite putting yourself up there too much.

But I think it’s something that, you know, if you’re listening to this podcast and you’re thinking, well, I don’t really want to be my brand, well, you know, it’s kind of necessary. And, and if you do want to differentiate yourself, then it’s, I would highly encourage you just to do it. and a related thing, by the way, is for smaller MSPs are just starting out.

a question you quite often hear is, well, what target vertical should I be going after? and I think it kind of goes back to, to what specific about you as well. so again, what question questions I would be asking is Okay, well, What industries do I have contacts in? What industries do I have experience in?

Do I have, maybe like a couple clients in a particular industry that I can do a case study on? those are the sorts of things that you want to bring forth if you’re starting out, but also if you’re a more established MSP as well.

Dan: Quite, quite right. And, I think that’s an excellent tip about, using a caricature if, if you’re a little bit camera shy, I think that’s a great idea. And it works really well on your website. Also, it gets around that issue if you haven’t, everyone been in with the photographer on the same day and there’s different lights and backgrounds and so, you know, some, Pictures of different sizes and, it can get a bit cumbersome.

so I think we might be borrowing that idea as well for our, for our team,pictures. but,but yeah, again, the only thing I would really add, I think some great suggestions around niching and,identifying where you’ve got,where you’ve got credit credibility for potentially new logo clients is perhaps picking an industry that you are interested in because once we move out of the marketing, channel into perhaps direct marketing and dare I say it direct set sales.

which is, you know, if you don’t like having your picture on the website, you’re really not going to like picking up the phone or going to events and, meeting prospective clients that way. at least if it’s a, if it’s a target niche that you’re interested in, then there’ll be a natural curiosity there.

I’d like to talk to. In my case, it would be Formula One. you know, I’d want to, I’d want to be getting the 20 teams on the grid. I was ready drivers on 10 teams, 20 drivers on the grid as my clients would be my ideal. and I would just, you know, be fascinated in researching and reaching out to all of those,businesses and their associated,supply chain.

Devin: Yeah, for sure. And for I think it’s true for in person networking, and it’s also true for, for search engine optimization, right? Because, you know, to get ranked on Google for the first page for search terms, let’s say, managed it services or, you know, it consulting, those sorts of like core keywords.

It’s very competitive. Very difficult. You’re going to be competing with, not just local MSPs, but much larger, you know, maybe even international MSPs. but if you’re trying to go after a keyword, let’s say, IT services for accounting firms, or, you know, we’re in Vancouver, Canada.

So maybe it’s Vancouver, legal IT services, like those keywords are much easier to rank for. so having an idea of what your differentiating factors are, is going to make it much, much easier to get good quality traffic coming into your website. and so that actually touches on the next point in the MSP playbook, a nice little segue there, which is,you know, after we have the core web pages, all polished up with content, SEO and design, we look to start blogging.

and, you know, coming up with blog topics can be challenging for MSPs, but it goes back to what I was just saying, where you can orient them around your local market. So add in a geographic search term into the topic. Okay. Add an industry search terms. The topic and then write tips for that specific market, And, you know, I’m sure many of the listeners here have played around with AI tools in the last year and a half.

I’ll say that AI is not good for writing blogs, but what it is really good at is writing topics and doing pre writing in general. so that can really help cut through the writer’s block and you can ask ChatGPT a question like, what are some good blog topics to advertise? IT services to accounting firms in Vancouver, and it will spit out, you know, 10 topics and I would say out of the 10, you’re probably gonna get four that are half decent and then you can take one of those topics and you can say,write a blog outline for this particular topic and it will come up with a pretty good blog outline.

And I wouldn’t let ChatGPT take it further than that. You don’t want it to have, to write the actual blog itself. But to get you underway,it’s very helpful. And, you know, blogging can be, really a time consuming and ultimately a costly process when you consider the opportunity cost.

And, ChatGPT can help mitigate those concerns to a large

Adam: Can you explain a bit more about why it isn’t a good idea for AI to write the blog itself?

Devin: Sure. So, for, well, I can tell you that we’ve experimented ourselves like on our own website. And not just getting ChatGPT to, you know, spit out the first draft and put it up there, but kind of using ChatGPT to iterate on a, on a blog. there was one blog I used ChatGPT for where I think I did 75 prompts to actually get it to where I want it to be.

So it kind of spent a lot of time to be honest. And this was like when ChatGPT was really popular or first, I should say first came out last, last winter. and it just did nothing in terms of SEO. so like that’s just been my experience is that it doesn’t perform, from an SEO perspective, but then from a user perspective, I think people who are savvy these days, especially savvy with tech can kind of pick up when content is written by chat GPT.

It’s kind of got that repetitive tone. and you know, it’s just very, I don’t know, it doesn’t have a lot of personality. It’s very formal in the way it puts together sentences. And I think it’s transparent, to a lot of

Adam: So does SEO pick up on personality?

Devin: Um,I don’t think as far as I know, Google isn’t there yet. perhaps that’s a blessing. I’ve, if Google could pick up on that, it might be troublesome. but what it does pick up on is the amount of time that people are spending on a page. so that will, that will impact it, how much SEO juice you get out of the blog.

and also just,you know, when you search for Google, you have, the title search. I should say when you search on Google, you have the title on a description of a page that pops up in the search results. And that influences the click through rate for people clicking that, onto that, onto your web page from the search listing.

Well, the higher the click through rate, the better you’re going to show up in Google as well. That’s one of the key metrics they look at. So if you have something that has a little bit of personality, even in terms of the title and the description. Then it will give you some SEO juice.

Adam: And just in general around this topic, because I think this is kind of a fascinating area. where everyone is trying to work out where this is going, you know, around original content creation and the role of AI and marketing in general. I mean, what is the marketing industry saying about this around the role of content creators alongside AI?

What are the thought leaders saying?

Devin: I, so my impression is that, It’s not at the point where, it is supplanting, human content creators at this point. you know, it just because it’s so easy to pump out a whole bunch of content that’s not that strong. so having good quality copywriters is still really important. and it just goes back to what I was saying to you.

let’s say if you were sending out a dedicated email blast and it’s just AI written content. You’re probably not going to get a lot of traction on that. You’re probably gonna get people unsubscribing thinking this is, you know, spam, versus something that you took your time to write. you know, at the very least, you know, even if, even the worst case scenario, if you were to use a chat GPT or something to do a first draft, like something that you went back and re rewrote like thoroughly, that’s going to get a lot more traction.

I think the question is where is it gonna go in 2, 3, 4, 5 years? you know, are we gonna get to the point with some of these tools where it is not easy to, determine if the content you’re reading is AI or not? that’s the big question mark. And then this is just my, speculation, but I wonder if we’re gonna go a little bit, more old school in terms of some of the tactics that we see, like maybe.

you know, maybe direct mail, you know, actually mailing an envelope of a letter and maybe that sort of thing will start coming back because people will just be so sick of all the noise that’s online created from A. I also wonder about things like, you know, let’s say like radio ads. There’s not a lot of M.

S. P. S. Doing radio ads these days. But maybe something like that will come back and like the downside of radio ads as well, you know, first of all, it’s really difficult to measure, the effectiveness of them. and you know, and it’s also more of a brand awareness thing than it is, you know, getting direct conversions, but I feel like those concerns might be secondary going forward if there’s just, so much noise online.

so I don’t know, I’m kind of curious to see where it goes. I don’t think anyone really knows yet, but that’s kind of my bold prediction is that I think we might be going more, you know, more old school in terms of the tactical mix in the next, you know, three, four or five years.

Adam: It’s really interesting. And I, you know, I guess the role as a marketing agency has changed. You know, you want to use these tools that’s appropriate. and, your clients know you’re using these tools, but they want that, that, that balance of budget and originality and quality. So I guess that’s the challenge right now, trying to. Work out where that fit is.

Devin: Yeah, for sure. and you know, you’re right that like our clients want us to use AI, you know, which is, was a bit of a surprise for us. But it just makes the marketing more efficient. They get more bang for the buck when we are at least doing, the, some of the things I was talking about with the topic generation and those sorts of things.

Or, even writing like the SEO, some of the SEO elements too, it is helpful. let’s say if you have, oftentimes what we might talk to an MSP that has a whole bunch of old blogs that, oops, sorry, my, my computer just, turned the screen off. so, might have a whole bunch of old blogs that don’t have SEO elements and like going back and writing SEO elements for a hundred different old blogs would be a huge undertaking, but you know, you can do like a half decent job, Just using ChatGPT to write the meta descriptions for them, editing them a little bit, and then it’s better than not having them at all.

So, you know, yeah, we do use it a little bit here and there. Ultimately, we do rely on our copywriters more than we do for AI for content, but we’ll see where it goes.

Dan: Some really interesting topics there. I was just cringing thinking back to the radio ad that I had in my first MSP business and I can’t remember the specifics of it, I can’t remember the name of the station, but I just recall that it was a total car crash and And we didn’t get any, well, measurable return from it.

but I think that might have been partly to do with the fact it was really only me and my mum that were listening to the station and we kind of both knew that we did it support. So, and,and just another thing that, that, that I was thinking,as, as you and Adam were talking there was, The role of the, of the, I’m not quite sure the right term, the syndicated content providers where I can subscribe to and get some, some written content, you know, it’s not going to be shared,widely,but, you know, it is still repeated between some MSPs.

I wonder if that has,you know, we would generally you be advising that’s better than nothing at all in the same way as having something written by artificial intelligence is better than having nothing written at all. I appreciate, you know, totally original copy written content should be the perfect position.

But,finding that balance between budget time, getting it done rather than not getting it done for perfection.

Devin: Yeah, I think you’re 100 percent correct. I think the syndicated content that is out there has a role, especially for smaller MSPs, especially if the founder, isn’t strong in marketing, it will get you a you know, off the ground and running with something and doing things like following up on your leads with syndicated content is better than just, you know, being kind of one and done with your lead, sending out a proposal, then, you know, maybe check in once on, you know, Not having a process in place, but if you do have the syndicated content, whether it’s, you know, maybe four or five follow up emails or whatever it is, it’s really helpful.

the thing I would caution against though is for website content, you don’t want to use syndicated content. Google will dock you marks if you have duplicate content on your website compared to other MSPs. so, and then, you know, then your domain will have those, you know, kind of, penalties for a while, even if you switch off of it.

but for, things like emails or, you know, even social media posts, then syndicated content does have its place. but I think a lot of MSPs outgrow it at a certain point because if you do want to differentiate yourself, if you do want to get your, what’s unique about you and your brand front and center, then the syndicated content is not going to cut it.

You know, you’re just going to sound like every other MSP. but it does have its place though. and I understand why a lot of MSPs use it.

Adam: can I just check when did Google start penalizing for syndicated content? How long ago was that?

Devin: it’s, I’m not sure the exact year, but it’s been a long time, so duplicate content is something that they’ve been looking for a long time and what we see sometimes too is there’s some agencies who used to stick syndicated content and they’ll offer like syndicated blogs, right? But the blogs, if you go in, there’s actually a no index tag on every one of their blog entries.

So the blogs just aren’t really doing much, at least from an organic

Adam: Got it. Got it. Okay. Yeah. Okay. That’s really interesting because just certainly my own experience. I know that, you know, that part of the market was pretty big. There were several big players out there issuing syndicated content and it was, you know, as far as I can understand it, quite popular. So, just quite interesting. and, but it certainly makes sense. I guess it was not perfect taking the syndicated content and shoving it into GPT and getting, something original out of that is,is, you know, one step forward.

Devin: Yeah, I would think so. Yeah. avoid the duplicate content penalties for sure.

Dan: Yep. And,yeah, I mean, lots of, I mean, there’s already been lots of great value, hints and tips that you’ve shared,is there, is there another stage on the playbook just to finish us off?

Devin: Yeah. So, you know, I’ll just try to wrap it up quickly here. So, you know, once we have the website all, you know, free and clear of errors, we’ve optimized the core pages. we start to look towards offsite SEO. So backlink building, those sorts of things. another really important one, and this is.

I would say the probably the best bang for the buck is Google reviews. Asking your existing clients for Google reviews is huge. that helps with SEO, but it also helps in terms of social proof and coming across credible. and you know that it doesn’t cost anything to ask your clients for Google reviews.

The worst they can do is pretty much ignore it. And, so that, that is a huge one. then other industry, other website pages, including industries pages, geo specific pages, a resources section, and then doing some sort of basic lead nurturing with, you know, just following up on the leads that you’ve generated and having some copywriting and marking automation to tie it all together.

And then once you have all that in place where your website is up to speed, you have good SEO, you have good content, good Google reviews, some resources, a lead nurturing process. Then we would start looking at advertising, more comprehensively with some Google ads and things like that. So that, you know, when you’re generating these leads, albeit they’re expensive, you can take advantage of them.

and cause you have the rest of the funnel already set up. So that’s an overview of the playbook.

Adam: And in terms of the more comprehensive advertising or SEO advertising, I understood that geography had an impact there. So if you were a more urban area, you stood a better chance of it being successful compared to a more rural area. What are your thoughts on that?

Devin: So, in a more urban area, you’re going to have,more searches. So, from that perspective, there’s more opportunity, but there’s also going to be more competition. So, in, in, it’s kind of a, it’s kind of a funny thing where yes,the benefits of doing it well, you’ll have a bigger benefit.

but it’s also much harder. Whereas if you’re in a more rural area, it’s going to be pretty easy to rank for keywords that are related to, you know, your local market. but you also aren’t going to get a ton of traffic coming I, I think either way it’s worthwhile. I would say for the advertising.

It can be a little bit tricky with Google ads in a larger city. You have to be a little bit more strategic. Otherwise you can blow through a lot of money really quickly. Whereas in a more rural community, you know, you’re not going to spend a lot per month. Like your total ads budget might only be like, say 500 a month or something, just because there’s not a lot of searches, but the chances of achieving ROI are, you know, it’s a much, much more likely proposition.

The math is just more in your favor.but, for, from an SEO perspective, I would say no matter what, which market you’re in, no matter how large, you should be trying to go after some geographic keywords.

Adam: And doesn’t this ultimately just become an arms race though, where the only winner is Google? I mean, how does this,how does this kind of pan out in reality? you know, because there’s only so much you can do and presumably there’s only so much you can do technically from a website, organic SEO perspective as well.maybe you can make some sense of that for me.

Devin: Yeah. I mean, I think we’re, unfortunately in the marketing game, we all, we are all, Need to recognize Google as our overlords. And there’s not much that we can do to prevent that. I do think ultimately they are the winner. maybe you could buy some Google stock too and hedge your bets a little bit, I suppose.

But, yeah, I mean, obviously there are other search engines, but no one else is even close to Google in terms of the impact we’ve experimented with advertising on say like DuckDuckGo and it just doesn’t send. The amount of traffic that really makes managing the campaigns worthwhile, Google really is the most important by far.

Dan: really interesting stuff. And, funnily enough, I heard an advert or saw an advert for DuckDuckGo on, on the TV,just at the weekend. And I was immediately thinking, Oh, why would I, you know, and they’re open in terms of how they make money. Maybe even choice of browser would be dictated by the niche of clients.

So, for example, if I’m, maybe if I’m selling to, MSPs or technology originated businesses, perhaps, perhaps they might be the demographic of people that would be aware of and use DuckDuckGo or the younger generation, for example. Is there anything, any sort of thoughts around that?

Devin: yeah, I mean, I think the more technical the audience is, the more likely they are to probably use things like DuckDuckGo and even like a Firefox or some of the other more niche web browsers. and that is something that you can monitor in your analytics as well. It is a factor that you can incorporate into your ads to, So yeah, you know, you can definitely look at that.

even like Firefox has some ad units built into the browser, but, you know, when you open Firefox, there’s some ads that show up. so, you know, that’s, that would be another opportunity to, but, I still think probably the sad reality is that, you know, Chrome is the market leader as a lot of Google products are, and, you know, it’s probably the one that still matters the most.


Dan: as this is kind of a financial,originated podcast, I guess the,we’ve talked a little bit about budget, but really the key, the key tip here is to buy Google, shares, I think that’s the, that’s the highlight for, for our SEO, summary of the, of the episode.


Devin: Yeah, you bet.

Dan: hopefully Google will like our podcast episode as a result as well.

Adam: Well, the fact of the matter is if you own any investment, any fund at all, you’ve already got Google shares, haven’t you? So, well, alphabet shares, right? So we all have them.

Devin: Yeah.

Dan: so this is the time in the episode where we offer you a shameless plug and to be honest, I think you’ve already done a great job of demonstrating your not knowledge of the marketplace and how MSPs can approach this. But perhaps if anyone listening would want to talk further or get in touch, how’s the best way to do that?

Devin: Yeah, the best way to get in touch is to visit our website, which is ebridgemarketingsolutions. com. And we have all of our information up there. You can reach out. I’d be happy to jump on a call if anyone is interested discussing their marketing. And I understand that you guys also spoke to my boss, Heartland Ross, on a fairly recent episode as well.

all. Bye. Bye. And, you know, Heartland and I also have another side of our business. It’s called the Host Broker where we do MNA for MSPs, mostly in North America. but that’s the hostbroker. com. so yeah, you can visit either one of our websites and get in touch that way.

Dan: Brilliant. Thank you. Thank you very much for your time. Really, yeah, really good episode. lots of great value in there. So, yeah, thank you. Thank you very much indeed.

Devin: Thanks, Daniel. Thanks, Adam. Really appreciate your time.

Adam: Yeah. Cheers, Devin.

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