In October of 2022, Datagate exhibited at NetSapiens UGM in Miami, Florida.
For the seventeenth episode of Talking VoIP with Datagate, we decided to film an in-person session with Dave George and Stephanie Benzik of GreenStar Marketing!
This episode is about the top telecom marketing strategies for MSPs.
Watch the full episode below:
- How MSPs can leverage NetSapiens to white label telecom services
- How MSPs should approach branding
- What market region should MSPs cover (local, regional, or national)?
- What’s the key to being a successful white label telecom reseller?
- What have been the key differentiators of successful NetSapiens partners?
- What are some of the campaigns you’ve seen go spectacularly well? What are some good strategies for MSPs?
- Benefits of GreenStar Marketing
𝗔𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗚𝗿𝗲𝗲𝗻𝗦𝘁𝗮𝗿 𝗠𝗮𝗿𝗸𝗲𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴
GreenStar Marketing is a telecom specific marketing agency specializing in organic growth for SMBs. The GreenStar Marketing team has strong roots in communications and is intimately aware of the challenges and opportunities facing service providers. They bring proven skills and expertise that ultimately lead to your growth!
𝗗𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝗚𝗲𝗼𝗿𝗴𝗲, 𝗖𝗘𝗢
Dave brings almost 30 years of leadership and enterprise management in the telecommunications sector to the table. In 2011, Dave co-founded GreenStar Solutions as the “angel” investor. The company was designed to keep up with the evolution in Cloud Services, providing their clients with industry-specific marketing services. In 2016, Dave served as SVP and GM of NetSapiens, which he did for 6 years. His leadership ultimately positioned the company to be acquired by Crexendo in June 2021. In 2022 Dave started P2P Tech, where his industry expertise afforded him opportunity to offer top tier consulting and advisory services for ITSPs, MSPs, and CSPs.
𝗦𝘁𝗲𝗽𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗶𝗲 𝗕𝗲𝗻𝘇𝗶𝗸, 𝗦𝗲𝗻𝗶𝗼𝗿 𝗗𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗼𝗿 𝗼𝗳 𝗠𝗮𝗿𝗸𝗲𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴
Stephanie’s been dabbling in telecommunications technology since she was a little girl, spending her days in her father’s IT shop, watching him work on phone systems, and catching a few Cisco Certification classes. With nearly 10 years of experience under her belt, Stephanie manages a team of industry experts at GreenStar Marketing. Together, she and her team have helped dozens of communication companies find their voice, rise above the competition, and grow their bottom line with targeted content, industry-specific strategies, and top-notch customer service.
Get In Touch With GreenStar Marketing
Episode 17 Transcription: Telecom Marketing Strategies For MSPs
Okay, so here we are at the NetSapiens UGM 2022 in Miami, Florida and I have with me, Dave and Stephanie from GreenStar Marketing
It’s an honor and a privilege to have you both here today and so I’ll get straight into it.
Dave, the last [time] we met in person you were with NetSapiens and since then there’ve been some changes. Why don’t you tell us what’s happening?
After almost six years of being at NetSapiens, I had an opportunity to basically gracefully and graciously move back to a company that started over a decade ago which is GreenStar Marketing. And so I made that move.
And so here I am today as the CEO of GreenStar.
I’m here with Stephanie who’s our Senior Director of Marketing.
And you’re right, I was the senior vice president and general manager of NetSapiens for those six years.
It was a great experience. Obviously [I] got to meet a lot of MSP, ITSPs, really get to understand the things that they’re going through the evolution of UCaaS and CCaaS market for them and really get to understand the value proposition that NetSapiens offers the MSP for example.
That’s excellent. I look forward to delving into this expertise too. Stephanie, I understand you’ve been a marketer and specializing in the telecom industry for 10 years or so?
Almost, I get to say that in January. So yes, I actually used to work with Dave 10 years ago at an ITSP and I used to do line number porting so … been in it for a while.
I was finishing up school and it made sense to stay in the industry cuz I already knew it.
Well that’s great. It’s quite a rare thing to find someone who’s a marketing specialist but really has had hands-on experience in the telecom industry.
It is. Trust me, hiring, it’s hard!
How MSPs Can Leverage NetSapiens To White Label Telecom Services?
So Dave, coming back to you. With regard to our target audience [who] are MSPs and so many of them are getting into the white-label selling of telecom services. What do you think are the big opportunities? We’re here at the NetSapiens UGM, how do you see the world of telecom from an MSP perspective right now?
The MSPs right now are obviously trying to build their brand, but a lot of what they’re selling is actually disintermediating from the space.
And what I mean by that is their brand [as an arm] is no longer being sold right? They’re selling other larger brand companies, but their brand is being pushed aside if you will.
With NetSapiens, because it allows full branding of the product at the white label level, it allows them to reintegrate or re-intermediate their brand back into the supply chain, allows them to go to market selling their brand. That’s the first thing, right?
So now it’s better for their valuation, it’s just better for ownership, if you will.
And it allows [them] to really tighten up their marketing. So, they’re allowed to basically build that brand which also has the product attached to it. There’s a bunch of wins there when they do that.
The other reason I think that NetSapiens is so unique is that they have this concept of sessions, not seats.
So, most other competitors sell on a seat base model but the reality is, it’s very rare that all phones are being used at the same time, right? So this concurrency concept of sessions, not seats allows you to sell based on usage, not just potential phone sitting on a desk that aren’t being activated, used, or seeing traffic if you will, right?
So that offers the ability then to have different pricing models, it allows you to have more margin because you’re basing things on maybe a seat model but being charged on a concurrency model.
So those are the types of value propositions that I think the NetSapiens product offers.
I’ll give you one more, multi-tenancy with georedundancy is native in the NetSapiens product, so not only can they do white label (if you will) for the NetSapiens, but they can then bring their own resellers to the table and let them brand their own product in those smaller markets that they’re dealing in, for example.
So it really allows them to do a lot of different things, flexible concepts, if you will. They’re not stuck with one structure, one price model to go to market and so forth.
So I really think that NetSapiens provides that flexibility that’s probably lacking sometimes in what they’re offering right. It’s not a cookiecutter one-size fits all.
What’s the best branding approach for MSPs?
So in terms of having a brand and developing it, Stephanie, where do you lead your MSP clients? What approach are you looking at these days?
It really comes down to the heart of them. They all sell the same products, essentially. There might be small differentiators here, someone sells SMS, someone doesn’t, whatever. It’s all the same.
It comes down to what really gets them ticking, what are they passionate about? And that’s what we have to go after.
Honestly, you know, we can talk right now, going down the vertical, getting niche down, I mean we do the same thing, we only work in telecom.
And it works, it does. Once you become an expert in that field you can really get that consultative approach with your customers and really guide them to what works for them.
And then you become an advocate for them and it becomes a lifelong, hopefully, relationship, once you are really involved in their success.
What market region should MSPs cover?
And so nowadays with the way everyone’s working through the cloud, remote working, etc. When it comes to marketing, do you advise MSPs to cover a wide region or to stay in their own geography?
Absolutely depends. Totally depends. I’d say it’s about half and half right now that our clients do – half of them stay local, half of them go regional or national.
But again, it depends on how their sales processes this and how their installation process is.
So if they are comfortable dropshipping pre-provision phones, great, let’s go to national.
If they want that more white glove, hands-on approach, you got to stay local, you gotta stay within your radius, absolutely depends.
But at the end of the day, it’s all about the customer service that they can provide because we all know the big dogs have the same tech, have the lowest prices but the customer service is terrible.
So that’s how they really got to set themselves apart.
What’s the key to being a successful white label telecom reseller?
In the NetSapiens world we’ve seen some of the really great telecom providers who’ve grown on that platform and some that we’ve talked to seem to prefer the direct sales model and some go into resale/white-label – what’s your advice in terms of whether to make that jump into white-label?
Well, that’s a loaded question. Because there’s a lot to that, right? That’s an onion, you’ve gotta peel back the layers. However, I will say this:
You really do want to find your lane. So that could be retail, it could be white label, it could be both, but understand that when you’re doing both – that’s two different experiences, that’s two different processes, that’s two different expectations that are going to be on your team.
So you better have the stamina to be able to deliver on both of those. Just like attacking a vertical. Right? She [Stephanie] mentioned specialization, you know, finding that niche if you will. Don’t pick so many, right?
If you’re going to specialize, pick one or two and be really good at it, right?
And that means understanding not just the UCaaS part of it but also understanding workflow management, understanding the CRM or ERP, understanding the pain points that you’re solving right.
I know it sounds trite when people say, “sell the solution, don’t sell on price” – certainly.
But there is some truth to this. Right? If you understand the pain of your end-user you will be able to start filling that niche. And then that becomes repeatable and that is when your process can start to get refined and you start seeing, you know, happier customers, higher CSAT scores, and then of course, your margins go up as well.
Absolutely, so I guess repeatability means the learning curve is not as severe.
Correct. I mean in the beginning if you’re trying to learn a new CRM that you’re not familiar with, you know, you’re going to have some pain, I mean you know.
If you look at for example auto dealerships, there are Several larger brands out there of CRMs in that industry. You really do need to know all of them though, right?
Because there’s enough take rate for each one – it’s not like one has 90% market share and the rest all share 1%, there’s enough market share that you probably need to know, at least three or four of them to be able to go into a dealership and have them feel confident that you are the expert, you can help them, And you understand that a business development center is a key component to their telephony right? Into their UCaaS world.
That you understand that being able to text information about the VIN number of that particular car that’s on the lot is important to them. If you don’t understand their pain points or what they’re trying to accomplish, you’re not going to have the same level of take – acquisition of customers if you will.
So those are the kind of things that you really need to sit down and strategize with your team. Create that specialization, create that alignment. Get your team all rowing in the boat, going in the same direction, understanding what you’re talking about.
Have buy-in from all the key players in the organization, have them disseminate that to the rest of the team to get complete buy-in and then what happens is you’re going to own that space.
And it could be regional or even local initially and you’ll be that person. But eventually, you can take that national, depending on what you’re doing, if you want to. And you’ve seen that at NetSapiens.
What have been the key differentiators of successful NetSapiens partners?
And so, when you think of the most successful partners that NetSapiens have had, what would you say are the key differentiators of those partners? Does it come down to specialization?
Certainly specialization. Also the willingness to plan and then take that risk and take it to market.
I mean, there’s always a risk assessment involved. But sometimes you have the data you know, that the market is doing things, right?
We know where it’s going from a cloud perspective. We understand the UCaaS space, there’s enough data out there on CCaaS as well (contact center as a service).
But at some point, you do have to pull the trigger.
So find what you wanna be. And so sometimes that’s also the owner of the company asking himself or herself, “what do I want to look like as a company 2 years, 3 years, 4 years from now?”
That’s a tough question sometimes, but answering that question sometimes then allows you to figure out where you want to go tactically.
So I really do think that those are the kind of questions that have to be asked in order to be successful.
What are some of the campaigns you’ve seen go spectacularly well? What are some good strategies for MSPs?
And so Stephanie, coming back to the actual marketing for MSPs in the telecom space, you must be involved in a lot of different campaigns… What are some of the ones you’ve seen go spectacularly well? What are some good strategies for MSPs?
So we focus a lot on inbound marketing. So that’s going to be your content creation, driving traffic to your website and really being that business card, that 24/7 information center.
So you can constantly be capturing different visitors. And honestly the best thing is having something professional that works well on mobile, desktop, and making it easy, not wordy.
You have to meet your audience where they are.
Right now, millennials right now are like 30 something to 40 something, okay? That’s me. I don’t have time to shop 10 different vendors, I need quick information. And that’s kind of where a lot of the newest entrepreneurs are.
So when we started refocusing some of our client websites to bullet points, just quick, easy to digest, skimmable content and then making sure there’s automation in place so that, you know, once a contact information card is filled out, you know, they immediately get something from the company and then once the salesperson takes over there’s still stuff coming from the company.
just keeping you top of mind because I promise, if you’re not contacting your customers, somebody else is. So you have to stay top of mind, you have to nurture that relationship and marketing can certainly help with that, at least in the background.
Of course, it’s going to take a sales touch, it’s going to take the account rep. But marketing really helps augment that. That’s what I’ve seen really be successful.
The other thing that’s kind of coming back around is email marketing. Which is nice. It’s making a comeback. It kind of took a little break, took a vacation, but it’s really starting to work again.
Getting that 7 to 8 touchpoints of emails is really kind of starting to work.
Another thing that’s working, we saw a huge peak in leads from social during the pandemic, obviously, everyone was bored as hell. They were scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, you know. And some of them converted, sure, now you’re seeing, they call it “dark social”.
There’s a lot more lurkers. They’re watching you, you know, they’re seeing that you’re a legitimate business and then they’ll reach out. You dig into it and you find out, “oh I heard about you on LinkedIn. One of my connections had commented on your post”, whatever.
So there’s a lot of that networking that’s coming back too but it’s happening digitally. So before it was networking at places like conferences, and a lot of that still happens. But a lot of digital networking is starting to make a big impact. So those are the things we’re starting to emphasize.
And of course I already said it but getting specific, getting into verticals.
Benefits of GreenStar Marketing
I guess one observation we see is MSPs typically come from a technical background. They’re not naturally marketing people and then I guess that’s the neat thing you’re doing. You’re offering a marketing service and you’re also experts in this field.
Correct, yes. And we’re going at it in a way where they can feel comfortable because we have the history, we have the background in the communication sector, right?
So we bring a pedigree if you will, a resume of telecom experience, cloud experience ISP experience to the table, so we can get to market faster, The content is relevant.
When they read our articles, they’re accurate, they’re correct. They won’t have to spend months or even sometimes a year to try to train us up on the technology that they’re offering the customer, because we already know it,
We come from the same space they’re in. So it’s just an easier communication stream going back and forth. Better feedback loop, the whole nine yards. It just makes it easier and better for everyone
And the biggest part of our boarding is just really learning their culture. That’s what we need. Yeah, I need to know what products you’re selling but you don’t need to go any further than just listing them.
Creating thought leadership content
And I guess thought leadership, you can help with cultivating an audience for them as well?
Absolutely. I mean thought leadership is almost table stakes at this point right? So when Stepahnie and her team do the creation of content and so forth, it really is allowing that customer to be the thought leader in whatever that Focus or Niche that we’re talking about is.
So that’s why it’s important that there’s this great collaboration, if you will between GreenStar Marketing and the MSP or the ITSP because we’re going to help drive that thought leadership so that when someone thinks of that particular niche, they think of that MSP.