Building Your Powerful, Trusted MSP Brand
“What can brown do for you?”
“Just do it.”
The Clydesdale horses…
Sometimes just a few keywords can create an instant image in people’s minds. That person in the brown uniform walking up a driveway with packages may represent safety, trust, and reliability. The local UPS delivery person is often known, liked and respected for doing the job in a professional and friendly manner. Branding has a lot to do with these connections.
Quality messaging and imagery can inspire people to jump off their sofas and take some sort of positive action −to go online or call and make a purchase or register for an event or some other activity. Bad branding can have the opposite effect, creating a negative feeling, annoyance or disdain for the company and its offerings. Either way, consumers recognize these organizations based on specific logos, messaging and other imagery.
These companies successfully evoke ideas and feelings. When done well, potential customers associate names, words and pictures with quality, safety, uniqueness, community support, reliability and other factors. Those connections are not accidental or random. In the case of well-known, established brands, corporate leaders intentionally strategize, collaborate and choose the feelings they wish to evoke with target audiences. They then develop marketing plans and carry out those activities to spread the word. That time-tested approach to branding works effectively in the consumer space as well as in the B2B and IT channel communities.
That approach is critical in the managed services field. As professional services firms that sell by reputation, MSPs must build trust and a quality image to scale their businesses successfully.
Providers rely heavily on referrals and testimonials to attract new clients. Business leaders need to know if a prospective MSP can properly design, implement and manage their technology systems and address their cybersecurity needs. Many companies rely on peers and community thought-leaders for recommendations on IT services partners and leverage other resources to validate their expertise. A good reputation is critical for MSPs, and branding is an essential part of that formula.
Begin with an Action Plan
So, what does it take to build a quality reputation and name recognition without a multi-million-dollar Superbowl ad budget? Specific goals are always a good start.
What is the MSP hoping to accomplish? Every company wants to be known for all the right reasons by its target audience. Most managed services companies want to increase their client base, monthly recurring revenue (MRR) and margins and develop other areas of their businesses. Whatever those specific goals, the first step in marketing is to boost awareness with a solid branding strategy.
That typically begins with identifying 3-5 keywords the MSP wants people to think of when they see the company’s name, logo and messaging. Branding is basically what clients and prospects would say to others about the company. Words like reliability, high performance, cybersecurity experts, friendly, on-time, intelligent, problem-solvers, creative, efficient, professional, and community-oriented are desirable for MSPs. Conducting that exercise with the providers’ team members helps inspire ideas, identify problem areas, and validate the company’s current state. Does the management team’s perception align with those who interact with clients and prospects?
MSPs may perform similar exercises with customers or focus groups that mimic the target audience. What are their thoughts about the company’s brand? Does it properly convey the intended message?
Once the keywords and images are set, MSPs should always start with an “inside-out” approach, rolling out the brand specifics and plan to employees before expanding to clients and prospects. From team members’ email signatures to blog articles that emphasize the keywords and how they define the business, emphasizing the importance of those messages across every medium, including internal and external communications and websites, is critical.
Leverage Channel Connections
Working with vendors, distributors and other alliance partners that understand, appreciate and support an MSP’s branding efforts is just as important. White-labeled offerings may be one of the most under-rated and underutilized resources in the channel. Many companies give MSPs the ability to add their own brand to products and solutions with minimal work and provide a wealth of sales and marketing tools to further those efforts. Committed channel vendors understand the value of those options and work hard to support their partners’ core business objectives.
Creating a solid feedback loop so customers can share their experiences helps MSPs gauge their progress and success and validate how well their branding process works. Do they positively describe the company? How well do their perceptions align with the MSP’s objectives? There are a number of apps for requesting automatic feedback at certain points in time, such as before invoices go out or after a specific service. MSPs should also encourage clients to write and share reviews consistently and nurture relationships with “net promoters” who are more willing to provide recommendations and make introductions to potential sales prospects. Securing positive posts on Google and other online-review services allows providers to stand out amongst the sea of other IT services companies.
As a committed long-time channel partner, ConnectMeVoice by Cloudli understands the business and support needs of the MSP community. Improvements to our UCaaS platform and IT services programs are focused on enablement, giving our partners more resources and management options to support their SMB customers better. That includes white-label options to support every MSP’s branding efforts. In addition to including their corporate logos and messaging to the ConnectMeVoice by Cloudli UCaaS and VoIP offerings, our partners can add their brand to an extensive library of white papers, training materials, and other end-user resources. No extra charge, very little effort. Best of all, our team can easily walk MSPs through the process and all their options. Go to https://www.connectmevoice.com/partners/ for more information on our white-label capabilities and partner programs.