Can Verizon Small Business Advisor Attract SMBs?

The market for providing managed services to SMBs keeps getting more crowded and competitive. The increased attention large IT vendors and service providers are focusing on SMBs has been well documented. However, telco giant Verizon is making a major play to obtain SMB managed mobile services business with a new online widget called the Small Business Advisor.

The Small Business Advisor collects data from SMBs, such as their industry, mobile OS, desired mobile tasks and overall business needs. Analyzing this data, the widget then provides the user a condensed profile of logical mobile solutions they can then purchase or download via QR code. There is no charge for using the Small Business Advisor and users are under no obligation to make any recommended purchases.

In and of itself, the Small Business Advisor will probably not alter the basic competitive landscape of the SMB managed services market, and it remains to be seen how successful Verizon is at converting users to customers. However, this free tool combines convenience and a valuable free service, two features bound to attract the interest of SMBs who tend to be short on both time and money.

In addition, Verizon will also collect priceless data about the IT and business needs of numerous SMBs which the company can leverage for future targeted promotions and also for fine-tuning its SMB managed service offerings.

Fight Fire with Fire

Obviously, Verizon can much more easily afford to develop this type of free tool and then provide what amounts to a free consultation than a typical MSP specializing in SMB clientele. Nonetheless, in order to stave off this encroachment on their SMB turf, MSPs need to fight fire with fire.

Naturally, most MSPs are not in a position to create an interactive tool based on advanced analytics and then provide it to SMBs via mobile device. But MSPs can make the effort to provide detailed free consultations. By providing these consultations on a personal basis, rather than through an automated tool, MSPs can promote areas of their services other than price, where Verizon will probably beat them. And certainly MSPs can collect data from these consultations for use in follow-up promotions and for fine-tuning their service offerings.

Also MSPs need to keep in mind that Verizon is literally everywhere, and can reach any SMB any time at any mobile touchpoint. While MSPs cannot match this ubiquitous market presence, they can make efforts to provide consultations to SMBs with maximum convenience. Communication tools such as Skype enable low-cost interaction with SMBs at a time and place that is good for them, without excessive demands on MSPs’ limited time. There are certain things large companies like Verizon can do better than MSPs, make sure reaching out to customers isn’t one of them.
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