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MSP Marketing Strategy: Demand Generation vs Lead Generation

Creating an effective marketing strategy as a Managed Service Provider (MSP) is crucial for success in the competitive landscape. As technology evolves and businesses rely on digital solutions, you might struggle to differentiate yourself while reaching your target audience. Two fundamental approaches will help you with your MSP marketing strategy: demand generation and lead generation.

What is demand generation?

Demand generation is a marketing strategy focusing on gaining interest and awareness surrounding a company’s offerings. It cultivates demand among potential customers/clients to move them from initial awareness to conversion. This approach uses a range of marketing activities to captivate and engage potential clients. It also focuses on nurturing relationships to drive them to want your services.

The key components are:

Content marketing and content tactics

One of the main elements of demand generation is content marketing, including blog posts, eBooks, webinars, and videos. Content provides information that educates, entertains or solves problems, positioning you as a trusted authority within the IT sector.

Three different types of content tactics align with demand generation objectives: brand awareness, education, and reassurance. Ensure you know how to implement them into your MSP marketing strategy.

Brand awareness—For example, create a video series featuring industry experts discussing the latest trends and challenges in managed services, cybersecurity, and more. You can establish yourself as a thought leader by sharing these valuable insights.

Education—For example, a webinar series on cybersecurity best practices could focus on topics like threat detection, data protection, ransomware prevention, etc. You could provide practical tips, case studies, and real-life examples to educate businesses on the importance of cybersecurity. Doing so can show how hiring an MSP can mitigate risks.

Reassurance— For example, a series of FAQ blog posts or articles that address frequently asked questions or concerns raised by those with IT-related issues. They should be clear and share practical tips and insights to remove any doubts or uncertainties your clients might have.

Social media

Social media marketing has played a key role in demand generation efforts. Leveraging platforms like Instagram, Twitter (or X), Facebook, and LinkedIn allows you to amplify your brand values, interact with followers and encourage community engagement. Social media provides a space for sharing content, sparking conversations and building relationships with your dream clients.

Email marketing

Email marketing is a key part of demand generation through targeted and personalised email campaigns. You can nurture leads, deliver relevant content, and stay at the front and centre of your audience’s minds. Email automation tools can streamline communication workflows, segment your audience, and provide tailored and personalised messages at scale.

Search engine optimisation (SEO)

Search engine optimisation (SEO) increases your visibility and ranking in search engine results. By optimising your content with relevant keywords, improving site structure, and building quality backlinks, you can attract organic traffic and grab the attention of people seeking IT solutions.

Paid advertising

Paid advertising greatly enhances organic efforts by targeting specific demographics, interests, and behaviours in more detail. Whether through Google Ads, a social media platform, or display advertising, paid campaigns can increase demand by reaching potential clients at different stages of the buyer’s journey and encouraging them to take desired actions.

Demand generation is a holistic marketing approach integrating various strategies and tactics to provoke interest, nurture leads, and drive growth. By understanding your target audience’s needs, you can tailor your demand generation efforts to deliver valuable content and develop meaningful connections.

What is lead generation?

If you want to expand your customer base and drive revenue growth, lead generation is a key process in marketing and sales. It involves identifying and attracting potential clients to your services. The objective is to initiate interest by guiding them through the buyer’s journey to make a purchase and motivating them to take action, such as providing contact information or requesting further information.

Attracting attention through marketing channels

Combining content marketing, social media engagement, SEO, and paid advertising boosts visibility, attracting prospects interested in your services.

Offering value to your potential clients

Providing relevant content and offers is key for your MSP marketing strategy. Examples of this could include educational resources, free trials, exclusive content, or downloadable content that requires the input of contact details. By offering value to your potential clients in exchange for engagement, you can capture their attention and establish a foundation for further interest.

Lead capture from interested prospects.

Lead capture consists of collecting contact information from potential clients. You can achieve this through website forms, landing pages or gated content (where one has to provide details in exchange for resources/offers). Access to contact information allows you to communicate further with leads and nurture relationships.

Lead nurturing to build relationships.

Building relationships through lead nurturing involves follow-up emails, personalised communication, or targeted advertising. It aims to provide potential clients with extra information, address concerns, and guide them to make a purchase.

Lead generation involves an approach that considers your target audience’s unique characteristics and preferences. By focusing on attracting attention, offering value, and increasing relationships, you can gain a stream of qualified leads to drive growth.

The differentiation between demand generation and lead generation

Demand generation and lead generation are both important and key parts of an effective MSP marketing strategy but differ depending on the buyer journey stages. Demand generation creates awareness and increases interest in your services among a broad audience. It targets those actively seeking solutions and potential clients who may not realise their needs. You can establish credibility over time by providing valuable content that addresses pain points and industry trends.

In contrast, lead generation focuses on identifying and gaining potential clients who are actively seeking your services. These are the clients who are more likely to purchase in the near future. Lead generation targets those further along in the buyer’s journey and aims to convert them into sales by enticing them with incentives or gated content in exchange for contact information. The tactics for this strategy include email marketing, targeted advertising and personalised outreach.

The problem with lead generation

Only a small percentage (5%) of companies are actively in a buying cycle at any given time. These are the prospects searching for solutions and making purchase decisions. However, the vast majority may not be actively looking for solutions or may not be aware of their needs yet – this is where demand generation comes in. Unlike lead generation, demand generation aims to reach and engage a broader audience, including 95% of those not actively searching for solutions. For MSPs, this distinction is important. Your lead generation tactics may capture the attention of 5% seeking IT services or solutions, and demand generation strategies cover the remaining businesses that may not be looking but could still benefit from your services. You can reach and communicate with a broader audience by implementing demand generation into your MSP marketing strategy, which includes content marketing, social media, SEO, and more.

The key differences between demand generation and lead generation are the audience focus, timing, and metrics. Demand generation occurs at the top of the sales funnel to build awareness and interest, while lead generation occurs further down the funnel, bringing clients closer to purchasing.

How do demand generation and lead generation complement each other in marketing?

While demand generation is the main focus, both approaches complement each other to drive results for your business. While demand generation creates awareness and interest among a wider audience, lead generation grabs the attention of prospects who are ready to take the next step in their buyer’s journey. By seamlessly integrating the two strategies into an effective marketing strategy, you’ll be able to attract, engage and convert prospects at every buyer’s stage. For example, you can repurpose the content created for demand generation to nurture leads through targeted email campaigns.

The shift towards demand generation for MSPs

As an MSP, you’ve most likely been focusing on lead generation to drive immediate sales and trying to get the attention of those already seeking IT solutions. However, as market dynamics evolve, your competitors notice the importance of creating brand awareness and developing long-term relationships with potential clients.

Consumers have been overwhelmed with advertisements in the past few years, making them more sceptical of traditional marketing techniques. Demand generation allows you to deliver value-driven content for your MSP marketing strategy and engage with consumers more meaningfully. Making this switch towards focusing on the preferences of your potential clients can effectively allow you to differentiate yourself from your competition and position yourself for success.

Best practices for an MSP marketing strategy

Marketing for MSPs can sometimes feel like it’s a losing battle. However, for MSPs looking to leverage both demand generation and lead generation effectively, there are a few best practices to consider:

Take a more holistic approach

Adopt a holistic approach integrating demand and lead generation into your marketing strategy. Begin by defining clear objectives and understanding the specific goals you want to achieve. Do you want to increase brand awareness, generate leads, or encourage prospects to make a purchase?

Provide personalised and valuable content

Create valuable content tailored to different stages of the buyer’s journey. Whether through informative blog posts or educational videos, ensure your content resonates with your audience’s needs and interests. Providing value to your potential clients will likely result in a purchase.

Take advantage and utilise multiple delivery channels

Use social media, email marketing, content marketing, SEO and paid advertising to reach your target clients effectively. Each channel offers excellent opportunities to connect with clients and drive awareness and lead generation.

Collect contact information to customise future experiences

Gated content, call-to-action buttons, and landing pages are ways to collect contact information from those already interested in your services.

Guide leads through the buyer’s journey.

You can encourage prospects to move through the buyer’s journey through personalised email campaigns and targeted content. Focus on producing relevant IT content that addresses their pain points and persuades them to take the next step towards a sale. Be sure not to sound like a salesperson when you do this.

Monitor and analyse demand generation and lead generation performance.

Track key metrics, including website traffic, social media engagement, lead conversion rates, and customer acquisition costs. Data-driven insights help identify key areas for improvement and allow you to change your strategies as needed.

Prioritising demand generation

To conclude, prioritising demand generation allows you to reach a broader audience. You will:

    • Build brand awareness—Creating valuable content, engaging with potential clients on social media platforms and participating in industry events.
    • Become a thought leader—Content creation, webinars, and industry reports enable you to showcase your expertise in the IT industry and position yourself as a trusted thought leader.
    • Increase interest and engagement—Find prospects who might not be actively looking for IT services and create content that addresses common pain points and challenges they might have.
    • Build long-term relationships with prospects— Provide valuable resources, educational content, and constant communication to encourage relationships with potential clients and keep them in their minds.
    • Stand out from your competition— Delivering unique and valuable content to your desired target audience can attract clients who appreciate your values. 
    • Drive growth and success in the long term—Building brand awareness can create a stream of high-quality leads and opportunities for business growth.

    Demand generation helps create a strong foundation for success with your MSP strategy while positioning you as a trusted source in the competitive IT services industry.

    How xpandly can help

    We can help provide powerful demand-generation techniques to create an MSP marketing strategy your competition hasn’t considered yet.

    Why xpandly?

    We leverage deep industry knowledge, keen market insights, and a solid grasp of future trends to create innovative and effective go-to-market strategies for our clients. Success in the technology industry requires a thorough understanding of the market to capitalise on emerging opportunities.

    We have delivered more than £75M of new sales opportunities to our clients, using a combination of our extensive data models and 15 years of experience in the technology sector.

    If you’re ready for your MSP to effectively reach your target audience, contact us now to schedule a call.