Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pinterest for (our) Business: Best Tech Boards for MSPs

Last month (11/14/12), the increasingly popular Pinterest launched Pinterest for Business. As the operator of our MSP's account, I was overjoyed to hear this news. There was no option to create a business account when we joined back in February and since then our Pinterest has grown to almost 20 boards with over 1,000 pins (OK, so maybe I should spend a little less time pinning...). As an MSP, you might be thinking, "What could you possibly be pinning? How do you 'pin' managed services? This isn't a cupcake business where you can post delicious pictures and throw in some cute snapshots of baby animals!"

Well at least that's the reaction I had when I was sizing up this new social platform and how best to attack it. Once I dived in I found that the more I pinned, the more I thought of new ideas for boards. Now there are many articles that give advice to "non-visual"/service businesses on how to get involved on Pinterest.

business cards bulletin board
photo credit: Abu via photopin cc
My hope is that with the launch of Pinterest for Business, MSPs and other B2B businesses will be encouraged to get their feet wet. Visit the Pinterest for Business page: http://business.pinterest.com/. Also check out this Business 2 Community article, How to Setup Your Brand New Pinterest Business Page (by Pinterest expert Tehmina Zaman) - it explains what this change means for businesses and gives step-by-step directions on both setting up a new Pinterest account for your business or converting your already-made account from personal to business.



Best Tech Boards for MSPs to Follow

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Our new article on Differentiation featured in Spiceworks' Spotlight on IT

photo credit: Vvillamon via photopin cc
I'd like to begin by saying what a great community we have found in Spiceworks. Admittedly we don't spend  nearly as much time as we'd like to with the always welcoming "SpiceHeads," but whenever we interact on the boards or, most recently, in response to this article, it always leaves us with a good feeling and more knowledge. We highly recommend joining - either as an individual or as a service provider (see our profile here). Spiceworks also offers free software which you can use to run a help deskmonitor your network, and more.

That being said, we were excited when Spiceworks reached out to our MSP (Baroan Technologies) to contribute to the MSP topic in their ongoing Spotlight on IT series. Since the importance of differentiation is currently a "hot topic," that is what our article focuses on: Clone wars: Standing out from the identical MSP masses. I discuss what I've found to be the focal point of differentiation after 15 years of being behind the wheel of a managed service provider, and how to attain that differentiation.

Please let me know your thoughts on what you believe is the best way for managed service providers to differentiate themselves. If you're an MSP, then you definitely have something to say. Comment here, tweet us, or comment on the article itself (where SpiceHeads have already begun a discussion, of course).

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ingram Micro's VTN 2012 Fall Invitational Recap

Ingram Micro VentureTech Network VTN logo
As an MSP, we're proud members of Ingram Micro's VentureTech Network (Big Apple Chapter). This week our President Guy Baroan headed to the VTN 2012 Fall Invitational at the Boston Sheraton. You may have seen him manning our booth (with a little help from Vanessa). This was MSP Builder's first booth ever, so thanks to everyone who stopped by and spoke with us, and especially to those who purchased our remote managed services video.

If you didn't get a chance to visit the MSP Builder booth and you're a VTN member, please don't hesitate to contact us to receive our special VTN 2012 coupon code for a discount on the video.

We've gathered all the tweets, posts, and pictures we could find from those in attendance to put together a VTN 2012 recap using Storify. Check it out!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Why Video is Important for your MSP Website


There is a plethora of statistics that show the benefits of having video on a business site, and the articles pushing for increased video use seem to become more prevalent as the year goes on. Anyway, let's beat a dead horse and start off with some numbers:
  • Website visitors are 64% more likely to buy a product on a retail site after watching a video. (Video Brewery)
  • Visitors who view videos stay on a site an average of 2 minutes longer than those who don’t view videos. (Video Brewery)
  • 70% of the top 100 search results contain videos. (invodo)
  • 52% of B2B marketers are now using video, a 27% increase over 2011. (Business 2 Community)
(If you'd like to see more stats, check out MagnetVideo's huge list: 101 Online Video Statistics for 2012)

persons shoes getting sucked into laptop screen
photo credit: HikingArtist.com via photopin cc

We can gather a few things from these numbers...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Selling Managed Services is Teaching Managed Services


(Please go to http://storify.com/MSPBuilder1/selling-managed-services if you having trouble viewing this post.)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New! MSP Builder LinkedIn Group

MSP Builder now has a LinkedIn group: http://linkd.in/QaM8xx 

This group was created as a space in which managed service providers can talk about how they approach every aspect of their business. There will be a special focus on the sales and marketing of remote managed services. We will share posts, articles, tips, websites, and anything else that might prove useful for MSPs in the sales and marketing of their RMM. We hope this group will be an interactive one with less posts from RSS feeds and more posts from real managed service providers. We want to hear your voices!

If you're new to the group scene on LinkedIn, or maybe you just haven't had the time to poke around, here are some other groups that you might want to join as well (Let us know if we missed any!):

Vendor Groups
LinkedIn logo blue pen
photo credit: TheSeafarer via photopin cc

ConnectWise
LabTech
CharTec
Kaseya
IBM for Midsize Businesses

MSP Site Groups

MSP University
MSPmentor
MSP Builder

General MSP Groups

SMB IT Connection (from CenturyLink)
IT Managed Services
Managed Service Providers Network
CompTIA

We look forward to some great discussions with all of you. Click and join! http://linkd.in/QaM8xx 

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Guide to IBM’s Marketing “Launch Pad” for MSPs

IBM blue logoMSPs around the world tuned into IBM's online launch event of their new PartnerWorld initiative for Managed Service Providers on September 26. (In case you missed it, the event is now available on-demand when you register and login through the above link.) IBM executives presented new incentives, offerings, and marketing programs, and current MSP partners, like Doug Mow of Velocity Technology Solutions, shared their real world IBM success stories. IBM sees this as the beginning of "a new era of partnership, new ways of working together, and new opportunities for future growth." 

Andy Monshaw, GM for IBM's Midmarket Business, kicked off the event with some honesty: "IBM did not connect with the managed service provider community at all...and we were completely wrong." I appreciated this admittance. IBM isn't pretending as if they've been focused on MSPs all along. Monshaw reassured the community, "We don't view you as a channel, we view this as a partnership."

Besides Monshaw's introduction, one of my favorite parts of the launch was when an exec said they realized that the last time there was a press release about IBM and MSPs was "never." Now they can say it was 9/26/12:

IBM Launches Global Initiatives to Help Managed Service Providers Capture Burgeoning Cloud Opportunity

As the marketing manager of an MSP, I've learned to have low expectations for partner portals. There's nothing like navigating a portal to leave me feeling frustrated, and I can count on one hand the vendors who I feel actually care about whether I can find that banner for our website or that product brochure for our client. So the part of the online launch that intrigued me the most was the marketing and sales support initiatives in the IBM PartnerWorld.

If I'm intrigued, I figure some other MSPs might be as well. The following are the set of services listed in the PDF (which is the first link under the Marketing tab in the PartnerWorld for MSPs) Introducing IBM's new Marketing Launch Pad for MSPs: MSP Concierge, Marketing Plan Development, Marketing Assets & Funding, Marketing Execution Services, Analytics & Insights, Social Media/Marketing Education, Promotion of MSP via IBM's BP Directory, MSP Mark.

So let's go find these services!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Employee Utilization Rate


(Disclaimer: Although the main focus of MSP Builder is marketing, if we come across a question or topic in the MSP community that we feel we can give a helpful response to, we will do just that.)

I have a few variables that I consider when calculating our techs’ utilization rate. You can include some, or none, but you try examining these in the context of your business to see how much they might change your employee utilization numbers.

The basic 20 days x 8 hours is a good ballpark number by which you can multiply an employee's utilization percentage, but keep in mind that you have to calculate other days off:

  1. Vacation
  2. Holidays
  3. Personal/sick time
  4. Overtime (Ex: weekend projects)
  5. The wild card - extra days off beyond the allotted paid time off with numbers 1-3 (Ex: weddings, extra family trips, maternity/paternity leave, or other obligations)

Also, depending on seniority and agreements, you may have people with different numbers of total paid days off. It may take some extra time and effort, but it’s probably worth tracking total real days off per tech.

To extend the conversation, you can now take your real utilization and see how that stacks up against how much each tech costs you in direct labor. The rule of thumb is for the amount of service billed by a tech to be 2 - 2.5X their W-2.

One more suggestion is checking your state and federal laws to see which techs qualify as salary or hourly employees. Not paying overtime can get you in trouble. The government has been auditing a lot of small businesses, so make sure you understand the overtime rules.

How do you calculate your tech utilization? Do you use PSA software, Excel, a combination of both? What do you take into consideration that wasn't mentioned above?


Additional Resources:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Welcome to the MSP Builder Blog


It has been a few months since we launched the MSP Builder site, and after last week's renovation (new logo, new design, new message) it seemed like the perfect time for a new addition - the MSP Builder Blog.

Just a little background if this is your first introduction to MSP Builder - we're a managed service provider just like you (Baroan Technologies). We began MSP Builder because we had a need for a marketing/sales tool that, after much searching, we realized did not exist. So we decided to create it ourselves. When we had the finished product on our screen, we thought there must be other MSPs out there who have wished they had this tool!

Thus, the MSP Builder "What is managed services?" video became available for purchase. Our short 1 minute 47 second video explains remote managed services in a way that makes it easy for non-technical people to understand. Much like us, we're sure you're tired of trying to explain how remote managed services work. It is difficult for people outside the industry to visualize what's going on in the background, so they don't understand why they should pay you a monthly fee for a service they can't see.

We hope to use this space to answer any questions regarding our product, offer tips for the best ways to use it, and share our own experiences using this video as an MSP. Please leave us a comment or send us an email at sales@mspbuilder.com and let us know what you'd like to see on this blog.

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