Every business should spend some time on differentiating themselves in their market. But, as a Managed Service Provider (MSP), there's a heightened need to differentiate as you normally have two daunting barriers to overcome to close new clients: The amount of competition in the MSP market plus the fact most MSPs offer similar services. As per ConnectWise, there are over 40,000 MSPs in the US, with about 8,000 of them dominating most of the available revenue.
The combination of these two create an ocean of seemingly similar choices for potential clients. But on the flip side, that same environment creates a great opportunity for you to stand out from the pack. By differentiating your MSP, you can set yourself apart from the competition and attract more clients.
There are plenty of ways to do this, including telling your story, finding your unique selling points, adding services that most managed service providers don't offer, enhancing your positioning with your brand elements, and marketing these differentiators. In this article, we'll explore several methods for differentiating your MSP. And to make sure these theories take flight in your MSP, we put together the Ultimate MSP Brand Differentiator Checklist to help guide you through the steps needed to differentiate. You can download the MSP Brand Differentiation Checklist right here.
Tell Your MSP Story
One of the most effective ways to differentiate your business is by telling your story. When potential clients contact an MSP, they are looking for a company that fits their needs. Although the focus is usually on the service mix, their needs and wants span beyond those.
It's extremely disheartening when a client chooses a managed service provider only to find out they are not a good fit in the long run due to the culture or personality of the company. But sharing who you are, what you stand for, and what makes you different up front can do wonders. Your goal is to make your business stand out from other IT services companies by developing a relationship from day one. One way to accomplish this is by telling your story.
Some important factors to put together and promote your story:
Make sure you use a catchy headline for your story to draw people in.
Answer questions to develop your story: What is the history of the company? What are the emotional factors that get you up and to work in the morning? What is the culture like at your company? What are the important factors outside of your services?
Strive to make it authentic and interesting. It should capture the essence of what your company is all about, and hopefully engage and align with your target audience.
Share your story on your website, in marketing materials, and in sales presentations.
Find Your Unique Selling Points
As a managed service provider, you need to find your unique selling points (USPs). What are the key factors that make you different from the other guys? If everything else was the same, what one or two points would make a client pick you instead of the other option? Take some time to answer these questions and make sure to share them with your potential clients.
Some possible USPs include:
Experienced staff with industry-specific expertise if you're focused on certain verticals
Longevity of the company with a proven track record of success
Tracking and scoring of robust client service and support that can be quantified
Cutting-edge technology solutions
Partnerships that are outside the norm
A wide range of delivery options that greatly benefit clients
Business or pricing models that counter the run of the mill MSPs
Adding services that most MSPs don't offer
Managed service providers often provide the same services. While this is great for clients to have the pick of the litter when looking for a standard package, it can also make it difficult to standout from the competition. Also, competitors in the space are adding services, to the tune of 59% of MSPs expanding their services in the last 12 months. So, if you're looking to differentiate your MSP, consider providing a service that is different from most MSPs. If you don't have a current awareness about what those services are, potentially spend some time on Competitive Intelligence.
Here are a few tips for coming up with new services:
Find a need and fill it.
If you can find a need that isn’t being met by other MSPs, then you have an opportunity to fill that hole in the market and differentiate yourself from the competition. This can be done by surveying your clients or doing some research online to see what people are looking for. Once you’ve identified a need, you can start developing a service to fill that need.
Expand your Product offerings into service offerings
Review the traditional product offerings you provide and have brainstorming sessions around potential services that could be provided to augment the products.
By packaging services together, you can make it simple and convenient for the customer while also differentiating your business. As you're probably aware, most MSPs offer a menu of services, but they don't usually package them into easy coverage options for clients.
This can be done by teaming up with other businesses that provide services that complement your products. For example, you could team up with a web development company to offer website design and development services to your clients.
When you offer a service that is different from most MSPs, this can be incredibly beneficial for both you and your client. For you, it means that you're able to attract new clients who are looking for a unique service. And for your current clients, it means that they can potentially get all of their IT needs met by a single provider.
Enhancing your Positioning with your Brand Elements
Your branding is one of the most important aspects of differentiating your MSP. It is what sets you apart from your competitors and makes you unique. A strong branding strategy can help you build a loyal customer base and increase profits.
There are many different elements that go into creating a successful brand, such as a powerful logo and colors, effective imagery, and a strong online presence through an up-to-date and professional website. However, one of the most important aspects of branding is creating a consistent message. Your customers need to know what you stand for and what they can expect from your products or services. This of course also aligns with telling your story. With 80% of the B2B buying process now taking place with zero human contact, your branding is more important than ever.
Branding is important for any business, whether it’s a small startup or a large corporation. If you can create a clear and concise brand identity, it will be easier to attract new customers and keep them coming back for more. But the great thing for you is most of your competitors have not developed a clear consistent brand identity, so it can be a wonderful way to differentiate.
Showcase your MSP Differentiators through Marketing & Sales
The differentiators you come up with won't benefit you without actually showcasing what makes you unique through diverse marketing channels, managed services marketing materials and sales. Make sure to use all of the tools at your disposal, including website content, social media marketing, webinars, enhanced educational content, and paid advertising, to trumpet your advantages.
This becomes even more important when your potential clients are in the deal stage, talking with sales. Showcasing your differentiating factors as a part of managed services marketing materials and selling managed services will improve close rates, especially when you think about those deals who are comparing you against a handful of other managed service provider options.
In an ocean of options, it will pay huge dividends to differentiate your MSP in multiple ways. The more unique you are, while still aligning with what your target audiences need and want, the more you'll come out on the winning side of every prospective client's decision making process. Using different avenues like telling your story, finding a unique selling point, adding services most MSPs don't offer, enhancing your positioning with brand elements and showcasing these differentiators through marketing and sales is the key.
Differentiation is a key aspect of how your MSP can achieve growth in relation to your competitors. We put together the Ultimate MSP Brand Differentiator Checklist to help guide you through the steps needed to differentiate. You can download the MSP Brand Differentiation Checklist right here.