Connect with us

Entrepreneur

How to market a Managed IT Service Provider since everyone is working at home due to Corona.

Published

on



I have a client who is a managed service provider for small businesses. I run his advertising and he’s doing really well because everyone is trying to work from home and need proper IT infrastructure. Think migration, cloud computing, IT security, etc…

If you do this sort of stuff, continue reading.

So I wanted to take the lessons learned from that campaign and share how some of you can generate more clients for your MSP.

Because companies are forcing employees to work from home, this presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some of you. Heck, some of you are already swamped as it is.

First, paid advertising is the way to go. Google paid search, Facebook, Linkedin, and Youtube are all opportunities and can be fruitful depending on your specific niche and goals.

Benefits to paid advertising?

  • You don't need to wait 3-9 months for SEO or content marketing to work for you
  • Data and results are immediate. You can see what is or isn’t working and make the proper adjustments, unlike SEO or content marketing.

Why is paid advertising working right now for MSPs?

  • Half your competition won't be doing this in a downturn because they see marketing as an expense.
  • Because fewer people are advertising, this means it’s easier for you to close a sale
  • More people are searching for you now more than ever.
  • Market conditions are forcing everyone to work from home. Once the self-quarantine is over, I expect more companies will look to the teleworking model as their future. This is good for MSPs
  • The need is immediate so the sales cycle won’t take as long. Shortened decision making is higher right now

How to use Google Ads work for your managed IT business:

Prequalify traffic

There is a huge demand for what you're selling right now. However, not everyone is qualified due to reasons such as budget, fit, and timeline. You need to prequalify as much as possible. But there's a delicate balance to doing this.

Some try to prequalify by asking a dozen questions with the contact form. However, all A/B tests have shown that there is a huge dropoff in leads for every additional field you have in your form. You want to just get enough information so that you can follow up with prospects. But you don’t want to force too many questions on people that they are turned off from filling out a form.

Prequalify through your content as well be talking about who your ideal clients are. If you provide IT services for dental practices only, then say that. If you only deal with businesses over a certain size, then talk about that. The same prequalification method can also be done through the Google ad copy.

Speed to lead

Harvard Business Review conducted extensive research on the life cycle of a lead. And this results are clear that companies who respond quickly have a greater chance of success than those who don’t.

https://hbr.org/2011/03/the-short-life-of-online-sales-leads

I learned working with real estate agents that follow up is crucial. All research has shown that agents who respond within 5 minutes of a lead will close quicker than those who wait several hours. You can confirm this with any successful real estate agent 🙂

Slow follow up is the best way to waste adspend dollars. A 5 hour follow up vs a 5 minute follow up makes a big difference over time. Alot of managed IT service businesses are notorious for poor sales and follow through. If you can follow up in a timely manner while meeting the customer’s expectations, you can win business.

Common Mistakes with Google Ads

Poor leads due to lack of pre-qualifying. You can improve lead quality by

  • Implementing negative search words with paid search. 50% of adspend waste is due to trash keywords.
  • Talking about who you serve through creatives and adcopy. Really hone in on your target customer and speak to them.
  • Mention it again on your landing page
  • Prequalify with the forms requiring certain information. This makes the sales folks happy 🙂 But don’t over do it otherwise fewer conversions. It’s a delicate balance between marketing and sales.

Regarding sales forms.

I've seen IT companies require a prospect to fill out 15 questions before they can submit a form. This can work if you've got a large pipeline of traffic which allows you to cherry pick. But if you don't have a lot of web traffic, you need to use 4-7 questions at most in order to improve lead flow and conversions. Any more than 7 and you won't get incoming leads.

Avoid technical jargon

Unless your buyer is a CTO, avoid using technobabble with your landing page copy.

This is the BIGGEST problem with information technology companies. Most tech companies suffer from poor copywriting. They work really hard to try and come off smart by using long winded sentences in their copywriting. Kinda like lawyers, actually. Believe me, I know. I've worked on marketing campaigns for lawyers.

Which reads better?

"We provide managed IT services to help you efficiently operate at peak capacity so you can maximize synergistic efficiencies”

Or

"Our managed IT services will allow you to scale your business, sleep better at night, and save you money"

Market towards the long tail

This is a highly fragmented vertical. MSP is an umbrella term for alot of services. Target specific services by bidding on those keywords. (eg; aws managed services, cloud migration services, it security for small business, IT services for dental practices etc)

Your keywords, adcopy, and landing page content should all be working together to match customer intent. Someone searching for “aws managed services”, shouldn’t be directed to your landing page which doesn’t mention this at all.

Invest in remarketing

Only a small portion of all web traffic will ever convert. I’ve seen this across numerous verticals. Alot of people are skimming off the top by only focusing on customers who are ready now. But alot of MSPs are leaving money on the table when they choose not to remarket to those who could be ready in a few months.

Depending on budget and resources, Facebook, Linkedin, or Google remarketing ads can help convert the unconverted.

Some prospects may not be ready to buy now. Others may need further education.

Either way, you need content in order to stay top of mind. Consider using educational content to put prospects into your funnel. This content could come in the form of webinars, videos, whitepapers, and/or articles you’ve published.

In conclusion,

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for those in this industry. Some of you have been preaching to your clients about the importance of security and proper IT infrastructure and they have been brushing you off…until now. Now everyone is realizing how important this stuff is. Make the best of your marketing.

I do pay per click marketing for the last 6 years across numerous industries. If you're interested in PPC marketing for your MSP, don't hesitate to DM me.

submitted by /u/ericb0
[comments]



Source link

قالب وردپرس

Entrepreneur

How to create a positive routine when working from home

Published

on


Week 2 of Covid19 self-isolation and we are well into the official Lockdown, here in London. 

We are all going through a time of unprecedented global uncertainties and anxiety. And unless you’ve experienced working from home before, you’re also experiencing a lot more time in and around your kitchen than you’ve ever thought possible.

I’ve used my lounge, bedroom and garden as offices for some time, and to stay grounded without the standard office life to break up the day, I’ve come up with a guideline structure that helps me get through the #stayathome times.  

Here’s how you can create a positive routine when working from home, or when forced to stay at home.

PICK THE RIGHT TIME ZONE

When the usual routine goes out of the window, and you’re all of a sudden having to spend more time at home, things can get tricky.  

With a new level of flexibility, access to colleagues and clients worldwide at various hours and resources available online at any time, it’s quite easy to get overwhelmed and lose track of the time of day. 

You may find yourself getting up at a strange hour, eating brunch at dinner time and feeling wide awake in the middle of the night. Don’t panic. A new time zone may actually work well with your organic body and mind clock. But if you find it to be unproductive, be honest with yourself and pick a time zone that serves you best.  

The 9-5 slot may be well ingrained in your programme, so sitting at your home desk by 9 may feel reassuring. But why not also test out new ways. You’re the boss. You may find your neurones come to life at dawn or become more creative later in the evening. Experiment with your time zones. 

Very little beats waking up naturally, alarm-less, for a productive and happy start of a day. 

CREATE A VOLUNTARY POSITIVE ROUTINE

If the idea of creating structure feels daunting and you fall into a more spontaneous type of personality who needs direction, call it a voluntary positive routine, and the game changes.  

Yes, the times are uncertain, but we can still control how we react to it all. Let’s take some control back by designing our own perfect day. 

Each day I make a list of the things I want or need to get done, then allocate an estimated time next to each task. Include your favourite essentials, such as meditation time, tea breaks, eating well, connecting and laughing, walking your dog, playing with the kids, moving, dancing, and doing something fun and creative, etc.  Basically as many things that you know will eat into your day, including procrastination habits. 

The time allocation is helpful to ensure I don’t over-stretch it, which could lead to feelings of disappointment.  Stop as you get to around 6-7 hours in total. We tend to underestimate how long things take. Ticking things off is rewarding and will make you feel good. 

Best to over-accomplish than to be left with a lot undone.

My positive routine to create the best day possible out of working from home, goes something like this:

  1. WAKE UP WITH GRATITUDE:  

As soon as I am aware of my awakening, I smile. Then I do a little 3, 2, 1…countdown and jump out of bed like a rocket.  I open the curtains, let the sunlight in and I greet my new day with a loud THANK YOU! 

  1. SHARE THE POSITIVITY WITH “GOOD MORNING!”:

I love wishing everyone a “good morning”. But if you don’t leave the house, it’s hard to find those opportunities.  So I send a happy message or voice note to my dearest ones, and sometimes post it on my social to share the positive vibes.

  1. HYDRATE AND REFUEL WELL: 

Before anything else, except for a mandatory trip to the loo, I rehydrate with a big glass of water, or better even warm water with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Followed by a healthy habit of refuelling my body with organic superfood powders diluted in water or juice (dreammagicsuperfoodpowder.co.uk).

  1. MAKE YOUR BED:

I make my bed almost as instantly as I get out of it. Even if I know I’m going back in it and might be working from there most of my day. A tidy and clear environment helps me feel better, and keeps my mind clear too. All positive ingredients for a productive day.

  1. MEDITATE:

If you’re not into meditating yet, believe the hype. Meditation has become a daily must for me. Even if I just manage 5 to 10 minutes, preferably in the morning to set my day on fire. It helps me get into the right mindset.  Bedtime is also a great opportunity to go inwards with a meditation. I enjoy Oprah and Deepak Chopra 21-day challenges and I regularly use Insight Timer or Calm.

  1. MOVE YOUR BODY!

Don’t forget to move your body. It’s amazing how much movement is cut down when you don’t get out for work.  There are so many new online PT training and classes. No excuses, there’s something for everybody. And while we’re still allowed to go outdoors for a daily workout, take advantage of it. Solo-dancing around the living room is also a secret hobby of mine. It sets me up with the right energy even before an important call or task.

  1. CRACK ON WITH YOUR LIST:

You’re almost set to go. Grab a cup of tea or coffee, and get cracking with your awesome list.  Start if you can with the least pleasant but most important and impactful items first. As you get more distracted and tired through the day, you’re more likely to still commit to those easier tasks. When you start losing focus, move to some of the more fun items: take breaks, move, walk, hydrate, meditate. Find what sparks you. And as you cross things off, big or small, celebrate achievements!

  1. JOURNAL:

Keep a journal to take notes throughout the day: morning lists, jot down ideas, release nagging thoughts, share daily gratitude and fun moments, create new plans, what feelings come up for you, and so on. You can have different journals for different content, or use the same for everything. Journaling releases tension, keeps your thoughts organised, encourages creativity, records ideas and boosts wellbeing especially when expressing gratitude and recounting happy times. 

  1. STAY CONNECTED

It’s so easy to get through to a whole day without talking to a human soul, especially if you live alone. Pets and plants are great listeners but make time to stay connected with your people people. Schedule in catch-up calls and online coffee breaks when possible. Check in with friends, family and neighbours who are also home-bound. Share tips and positivity, offer help and humour.

  1. SELF-CARE

I can’t over emphasise the importance of self-care in any given moment, and even more so during uncertain times of pandemic lockdowns and working from home.  There are many great ways you can be kind to yourself.  Meditation, journaling, moving around, reading a captivating book, hot candle baths, indulging in your favourite body cream, eating a healthy yummy treat, connecting with nature, doing something funny, asking for help with anything you struggle with, etc. 

CREATE VARIABLES AND NON-VARIABLES

My positive routine includes variable and non-variable elements. There are some things that I look to repeat on a daily basis and others that depend on what I need or want to get done that day. I then leave room for changes and spontaneity.

You can go creative with your list, until the non-variables of your positive routine become second nature.  You could write the MUST Dos permanently on a white board for example and leave space to add the other variable tasks below.  Or remind yourself of these with an acronym or mantra repeated on each page of your diary.

My daily deal-breakers include: Gratitude, Meditation, Exercise, Self-care, Connect with people, Create and have Fun. 

I hope you find value in this guideline, to help you make up your own positive routine. Consider what you always wanted to experience on a perfect day in your work life. If you are new to working from home, and need help creating a happy structure that boosts your wellbeing and productively, get in touch with us here at the Female Entrepreneur Association and let’s work on it together.

Words by Francesca dal Bello of Gr8fool Limited.

The post How to create a positive routine when working from home appeared first on Female Entrepreneur Association.



Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

Entrepreneur

How Flair, a $100k/month eCommerce company is adapting to Covid-19

Published

on



I did an interview with Daniel Myers, Founder of Flair about the changes the company is seeing in the marketplace: demand, user acquisition and logistics and how the company is adapting to them.

The full transcript of the interview is below. You can also head here to get the audio and some extra details on Flair's product.

  • Product: Smart HVAC product. Allowing every room to be at the optimal temperature while using the minimum energy

  • Sales Channels: 70% online. 30% distributor

  • Sales / month: $100k

  • Margins: 25% net

  • Location: Remote: NYC & Seattle. Manufacturing: China

  • Founded: 2014

  • Team: 6 Full time, 4 Part time

Can you give a brief overview of the product Flair sells?

Flair builds home comfort products. We build a smart vent system that you can install into a home relatively quickly and easily by dropping in our vent in place of your existing vents. We distribute air to different rooms at different times depending upon the points that users set on a per room basis. We also build a smart thermostat that works with those smart vent systems. It integrates with other smart thermostats you may already have, but also works with the world's most popular air conditioner, called a ‘mini split,’ which is typically operated with a handheld remote. So we replaced that [the remote]. We're the “Nest” for mini splits.

You manufacture in China and sell all across the U.S. How is Covid-19 affecting your business?

We've been pretty lucky with our logistics. They're staying busy and shipping a lot of product for us. Our manufacturing is interesting because we tend to do these really large manufacturing buys. So we're not always manufacturing in a continuous manner. We time our buys with our forecasts, and even seasonality to a degree, because obviously HVAC heating and cooling tends to be a very seasonal business. So we've been okay on manufacturing. We have a foot in two worlds. We have a foot in the consumer world and we have a foot in the heating and cooling industry. The heating and cooling industry is traditionally a professional installer going into homes and setting up air conditioners.

I think right now people are pretty leery of person to person interaction, especially people outside of their core home and family. The signal we see from the marketplace is that the direct to consumer is a really nice way of avoiding those kinds of concerns. I think we're in a pretty luxurious position where our products can be sold through professional installers, but they can also be self-installed. That's a really strong point for us because it makes us, I wouldn't say immune to Covid-19, but it certainly helps us weather it a little bit more comfortably.

I would have a hypothesis that as people spend more time at home they may find more time for home improvement projects. Have you seen any data to back that up yet or is it something you'd expect to happen to over the short-to-midterm?

The simplest tool we've got is Google Analytics on our applications to see who's using it and at what frequency. They're certainly paying more attention to their home comfort from what we see. And then on top of that, there's definitely been an uptick in our consumer sales because I think people are at home and really want to be productive and they want to be comfortable when they sleep. Sleep and immunity go hand in hand, so I think people are looking at life holistically and how much their indoor climate really makes them productive, healthy and comfortable.

We’re seeing China's manufacturing capacity is ramping back up to 100% but logistics, especially air freight, is costing 3-4x more. Are you seeing that as well?

We typically avoid using a lot of air freight for a variety of reasons. Occasionally if we really run low on some particular model and we don't want to run out of inventory, we may send a small percentage of a build through the air and then send the rest via ocean freight. But so far we haven't really needed to use air freight. That said, we've got a few friends that have definitely seen it.

I think if you are trying to fly things in from China right now, just getting it on the flights can be tricky and you certainly are going to pay for it. So if you can get it on a boat I think that's the way to go. On top of that, boats are nice because goods that are flown in don't take long to fly. However, by the time it's aged on that boat the goods are effectively not going to be risky [from Covid-19] in any way.

Have you had any customers ask about your process around packaging and fulfillment and any extra measures you’re taking with Covid-19?

We haven't seen too much reach out from customers around that. But you know, one of the first things we did when this whole thing started developing was we went to our 3PL, essentially our warehouse that ships things out for us, and we asked them, ‘Hey, what is your procedure in place? What is your plan if an employee is sick? Give us your view of how this plays out for you as a logistics provider.’ I have to say we were really happy with their response because they had a plan and had implemented all sorts of programs like hand-washing and distancing. Things that, in hindsight of course, they need to be doing but by the time everybody was talking about it, they were already doing it.

We pay a lot of attention to what the carriers themselves are doing–UPS, FedEx and those sorts of companies. But you know, they're so big that I think they've had plans for awhile.

As your demand evolved to become more eCommerce focused, how has your customer acquisition changed?

With HVAC companies, obviously it's kind of an ecosystem. There are distributors, there are installers, and there are, of course, homeowners. We find we often have to connect the dots for that industry to make sure that if a homeowner comes to us and says, ‘Hey, I need somebody to help install this,’ then we need to find them an installer. Then the installer needs to be able to go to their supplier and hopefully this supplier has a product in stock. And so it's a fairly involved process and requires a lot of human interaction. So, like any good startup, we're constantly experimenting and we started with these experience experiments to see how we could understand the interest for these HVAC contractors and be assistive to them to help pull our product through that channel.

It was a great experiment because we found out that we really can do it, but in the time of Covid-19, while people are trying to lower their exposure to others, direct-to-consumer just makes a lot more sense all around. So we've shifted a lot of our attention to delivering our message to homeowners who will just buy and install directly. I think that is just better for everyone right now.

I have to say I can't wait to be back working with the channel and that [HVAC] ecosystem because I think those kinds of relationships really last. So the sooner that we're able to get back working with them the better. But in the short term, it's really nice to be able to say, okay, we're just going to work on delivering our message to consumers and continuing to grow there.

As I presume most, or a lot of, companies are turning to eCommerce right now, have you seen the costs rise on Facebook, Instagram and Google?

I don't think that’s something we've really seen. I don't know if that's a function of who and how we're marketing. Maybe that's because so many of the people out there buying ads right now are pulling back on some of their ad spend since their core business is enabled by brick and mortar and essentially not operating. So I think there's an interesting shift that happened where I think certain companies are really hitting the gas that are perfectly set up for this.

We're an eCommerce-focused business and then there are other companies that use online ads to push people to their physical stores. It's really hard to see how much either one of those is really moving the costs of advertising and marketing.

One of the ways that we’ve built our sales systems, that is a point of pride and strength, is we really focus heavily on engaging early on with social media, but our long term relationships tend to be a lot of email interaction. So that's another way, if you don't want to be advertising via expensive ads, spend on social media. It's very common that our customers buy a couple of units and then buy a few more afterwards. It's a really nice way of avoiding any kind of turbulence in the advertising market.

Since customers buy more units over time, I'm guessing there's a lot of word of mouth with your product. Have you tried any referral programs?

Yeah, we do that. It works pretty well even though we haven't put that in front of people very centrally, that's something we could probably improve on. I think the referral happens very organically because somebody comes over to somebody else's house, they see our product on the wall or installed on the floor and they're like ‘What is that thing?’ It just organically happens where people are talking about the product because it's such a novel set of products.

So we get a lot of organic referrals and we see a decent amount of usage from referral programs. It’s also quite common people buy a few units for a test too. They want to see that it works in a way that they're expecting. Once they are happy with the product, they're like, ‘Oh, I'd love to add this kind of control that I've got to the rest of my house.’ Not everybody wants to buy a whole home system upfront. So it makes a lot of sense that people buy a few pieces at a time. We've got customers who install one device and we've got customers who install 30, but I think it's a much smoother onboarding experience broadly if they can buy a smaller number at first, get familiar and then order more.

Can you talk a bit more about how you financed the company initially and how you see that process evolving going forward for however long this potential downturn in the economy lasts?

So we really got going with the help of some fantastic angel investors early on. Other folks that got involved were big venture funds and groups that have a little bit more ‘dry powder.’

I expect that as we raise subsequent rounds of financing, certainly within this climate, my suspicion is that angel investors are going to be much more exposed to the broader market changes than venture capital funds who typically have a fund allocated upfront.

I think they're [venture capitalists] going to pull back and probably invest a little bit more slowly, and make sure their portfolio companies are going to weather this thing, but at the same time I think it also cuts down on a lot of noise.

We're a company that has been built in many ways out of revenue rather than strictly investment, which is not necessarily the Silicon Valley model of startups. But what that does for you is it gives you an advantage at fundraising time where you don't necessarily need to go raise a ton of money.

But I would say I think it's a really powerful position to be in if your entire business model is not dependent upon fundraising and you've got options in terms of just leveraging your revenue to maintain things and hold onto your employees and all of your core investments that you've made over time.

Now that you guys are remote can you talk me through the tools the company uses for the day-to-day running of the business?

  • Slack – team communication (cuts out 95% of potential emails)

  • Google for business – collaborative documentation (one caveat being the difficulty of using it in China)

  • Zoom – video conferencing

  • Shopify – powering eCommerce store

Have you got any advice for other founders who are just starting out?

Focus on customer support. We were almost blindsided by how high touch customer support was. Now, our product admittedly is a home automation product, so inherently with that comes a lot of questions.

But ultimately I think the amount of support is something you'll want to really pay attention to and invest in. When you deal with a company who's really paying attention to you, who's really making sure that you have a good experience, it's night and day. Even if the product fails miserably but you have a good experience with customer support, you’ll get past it.

submitted by /u/mccaly
[comments]



Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

Entrepreneur

How to Transition From a Sole Proprietor to an LLC by @DeborahSweeney

Published

on


by  | Featured Contributor

Is it ever too late to change the legal structure you initially incorporated as? Not at all. The entity formed for a business at its offset does not need to be its formation forever. Entrepreneurs have the option to change structures that best fit their needs, and many begin as sole proprietors. For those that are ready to make the leap from sole proprietorship to another entity type, like an LLC, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

1. Determine if you are truly ready to opt out of being a sole proprietor.

There are certain aspects of incorporating as a sole proprietorship that cannot be found in other legal structures. A couple perks include the ability to be the sole owner of the business and call the shots. This allows entrepreneurs to exercise complete control over their startup and truly act as the boss. A sole proprietorship is the easiest legal structure to form with a simplified tax process and affordable filing fees. It’s also a great entity if you run a business from home, like an Etsy shop or as an online consultant, where you don’t need a physical storefront.

However, the biggest drawback to remaining a sole proprietor is that there is no separation between personal and professional assets. The owner is liable for everything that happens within the business. This can include everything from losing valuable information to assuming the company’s debts and even being served with a lawsuit. Without liability assistance, it can be tough for an entrepreneur with a sole proprietorship to expand their business and protect their assets.

2. Decide whether an LLC or another entity formation is your best fit.

Before you can incorporate as a limited liability company (LLC), you’ll need to determine what each entity can bring to the table and your business.

As one of the most popular entities, an LLC allows entrepreneurs to keep their personal and professional assets separate. This is especially helpful in the event of an unforeseen circumstance and provides a growing startup with an extra cushion of liability protection. It also provides flexibility in being able to choose either an S Corporation or C Corporation as your tax entity. For those that qualify as an S Corporation, careful planning will allow you to avoid paying significant employment taxes. Keep in mind, however, that it’s not enough to incorporate as an LLC and be completely done with the process. You’ll also need to apply for permits (like a Sales and Tax permit, per obligations in your city, county, or state), business licenses and insurance, a DBA (Doing Business As name), and an EIN (Employer Identification Number).

For those with big expansion plans, a corporation offers the best of both worlds. You’ll receive liability protection for professional and personal assets within a formal business structure. This entity allows potential investors to invest capital into your business, provides the ability to issue shares, and makes it possible to take your business public. As far as taxes go, what you pay in taxes is based on what you choose to pay yourself from the corporation. You also have the option to elect an S Corporation status after incorporating to tax the shareholders, instead of the income of the corporation.

3. Look into a partnership.

Want a little extra support? A partnership is tailor-made for entrepreneurs that want to go into business with a partner, whether that’s a family member or friend. This structure allows entrepreneurs to share profits and losses with a partner and make decisions together.

Keep in mind that much like a sole proprietorship where you are liable for everything within the company, in a partnership you are liable for decisions made along with the actions of your business partner. Consider drafting a written partnership agreement together. This will allow you to establish partnership terms and outline capital contributions from each partner and their percentage of ownership in the company. You may also further detail the rules for admitting a new partner and outline procedures for the voluntary and involuntary withdrawal of the partner.

Once you have determined which entity formation you’d like to transition to, begin filing the proper paperwork with your local Secretary of State and pay the associated filing fee to make the changes.

 

 

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation.

The post How to Transition From a Sole Proprietor to an LLC by @DeborahSweeney appeared first on She Owns It.



Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

Trending