managed-services-researchFace it: People love data. They love statistics. And they embrace research. One of the fastest ways for managed service providers (MSP) to generate marketing buzz is to publish a research report that's full of key statistics. The report can also serve as a key sales tool. Consider, for instance, a recent research effort by The Planet, a major hosting provider.

In early June 2009, The Planet published a report concluding that the company's hosted IT infrastructure reduces operating costs for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) by 51 percent over a three-year period.

Yes, the statistic is self-serving to The Planet's business. But looking ahead, The Planet's sales team is armed with data and customer anecdotes that can potentially accelerate sales cycles and buying decisions.

Finding the Data

The Planet retained Stratecast, a division of Frost and Sullivan, to produce the IT hosting research report. The deliverables include an extended white paper that The Planet employees can now share with existing and target customers.

Here's an overview:
The report weighs the three-year expenditures of an in-house, “do it yourself” (DIY) approach, versus subscribing to hosted IT infrastructure services from The Planet. The study evaluates the total cost of operation based on the price of servers, storage devices and other hardware; software licenses; security; lease premiums; dedicated Internet access; facility costs; power; and in-house personnel. In the study, a customer who would have spent $226,000 on a DIY approach by comparison would have spent $111,093 to implement a hosted IT infrastructure solution.
If you're mulling a research study for marketing purposes, keep in mind that numerous MSPs and vendors launch research studies each year. Two recent examples include a study from HoundDog Technology (continuing now) and Untangle's MSP Benchmark Study (released in June 2008).

In some cases, the studies involve third-party research firms. In other cases, the efforts involve a setting up a simple survey using a tool like SurveyMonkey.

Start small. One idea: Maybe your research identifies customer satisfaction levels with your services.

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