Smart MSPs are continuously evaluating their vendor choices. One key decision criteria is whether a vendor partner can deliver a “white-labeled” version of the product or service, enabling an MSP to put their own brand name in front of clients.
While some clients appreciate, trust, and recognize “big name” technology brands such as HP or Cisco, most small businesses simply rely on their MSP to make the technology buying decisions. In these cases, vendor brands may not matter to the end-user client. Moreover, MSPs should at all times try to maximize all the MSP’s own branding opportunities.
Here are five great reasons MSPs should utilize brandable vendor solutions:
1. Make it your own
With a brandable vendor solution, an MSP partner is able to brand various software and service elements in the solution and truly make it their own. Smart MSPs realize that in order to build a thriving practice, clients must perceive that they receive a unique and differentiated service offering that is not easily duplicated by another local competitor. Therefore, branding is vital to establishing preference and loyalty in the mind of the client. The partner should brand splash screens, web portals, periodic reports, email alerts, service notifications, and invoices, all in a consistent fashion. Through repetition and consistency, the whole perceived value of the managed service experience will increase and be less prone to competitive attack.
2. Superior client service
There are many practical reasons for partners to brand a vendor solution. Core to the managed services value proposition is “one throat to choke.” MSPs who deliver outstanding client service want their managed users to come to them first when there is a support incident of some kind. In nearly all cases, clients and their users will receive vastly superior post-sales support from their local partner than from an anonymous vendor on the phone from some far flung call center. By consistently branding MSP service elements, it trains the client to turn to their local partner for help desk, issue resolution, and advice at all times. MSPs should be very deliberate in both branding service elements and educating users on how best to seek assistance and support, be it over the phone, online portal, or via an email initiated ticket.
3. Better bundles
A key element in building a successful managed service offering is intelligent bundling. MSPs can add a lot of value by clearly distinguishing between stand-alone services and those that are merely features in a larger bundled offering. For instance, a firewall in and of itself is neither a product nor service that should be sold in a discrete fashion to an SMB; alone, it is a commodity. Rather, a firewall should be one critical component of an overall managed security offering, alongside gateway security services, deployment, configuration, monitoring, management, alerting, and reporting. Giving partners the ability to brand a vendor product or service helps partners unify a service offering and put together the right combinations for a complete solution for the client.
4. Better pricing power
Price competition and margin erosion is a constant concern for MSPs and solution providers. Vendors that let partners brand their offerings also often give the partner wide latitude in terms of how they price and package the retail service offering. Branding and pricing flexibility protect the partner from being excessively price shopped by clients and prospects. Branding obscures the underlying technology elements and SKUs, again preventing commodification and price erosion. Partners with unique service offerings and branding are able to drive rich price points and more attractive gross margins.
5. More new clients
Branding is a cornerstone of word of mouth marketing. It’s hard for clients to recommend a business to others if they are not sure what the brand is. Partners that build up their own brand name will over time win more client references and positive word of mouth buzz in the communities they serve.
Technology vendors that understand the unique business challenges and opportunities of MSPs should make partner branding a key part of the service value proposition. The success of partners requires that they are able to make unique, differentiated, and high margin services for their clients, while relying on the underlying technology and wholesale services from their vendors.
Ted Hulsy is VP of Marketing at eFolder, a cloud-based file sharing company.