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March 14, 2023
The secret to brand storytelling success is telling your own story — not your former employer’s or vendor’s.
You left another firm to start your own managed service provider or technology solutions provider company. You had a vision of building something different, something authentic and something that you could run and call your own. Over time, you hired talented engineers and sales people who left other firms to help grow your new company. That’s the entrepreneurial dream, and executed correctly, it can be great. But too often, you and your team can find yourselves telling older stories — stories that really belong to your former employers and your vendors.
That’s a problem for a few reasons.
First, your company’s brand story should sound different from the firm that you just left. You created or joined a new MSP or IT provider for a reason — you wanted to launch or grow a new business, a new practice area, a new region. Why would you slow your success by using a watered-down version of your brand story – or worse – a recomposed version of your former employer’s story?
That’s exactly what happens for too many technology services firms. They rely on older copy, existing message frameworks and old sales battle cards to define themselves. But you are much more than what you can find on your LinkedIn profile, aren’t you? You have a powerful vision for serving your customers and helping them achieve their goals — or you wouldn’t have launched a new business in the first place.
Second, your sales and practice area presentations must be different than your previous employer’s. I can’t tell you how often I have seen a presentation deck from a newly hired practice area director that is really just a copy of the deck he was using at his old company – updated with your company’s logo. That’s not just bad brand storytelling — it’s copyright infringement. If you continue to use materials created by past employers and competitors, you’re going to quickly learn what intellectual property lawyers do for their clients.
Third, your vendors’ copy doesn’t fully explain who you are and what you do. Many technology providers – especially MSPs – rely on vendor marketing development funds (MDFs) to supplement their marketing budgets. They also often rely heavily on vendor-provided marketing portals for marketing collateral, campaigns and emails. While this content is excellent, it doesn’t provide you with a differentiator that tells your customers who you are and why they should work with you.
For example, if you are using a vendor-developed networking product e-book to help you sell into a customer account, you still need to explain why you’re the right choice and what expertise and industry experience you bring to the table. And remember — you are not the only MSP sharing that vendor’s eBook on social media. How many of your competitors have posted a similar social media link to a similar landing page to download the same e-book?
You want to make sure that your brand story isn’t just about what you do; it’s about why you do it and how you will do it better than anyone else in the industry. Your differentiated brand story can help clients as they move through the buyer’s journey — from awareness to consideration to decision, and ultimately to loyalty. Here are five steps for building a solid, repeatable and powerful brand story that is all your own:
Define your unique value proposition. Identify what sets your MSP or technology solutions firm apart from the competition. Your value proposition should be clear, concise and compelling, and it should resonate with your target audience. For example, you may have expertise serving a specific market, such as legal or financial. This can give you insight into exactly what they need – and what they don’t – in their technology stack.
Determine your target audience. Identify your ideal customer, including their needs, pain points and buying habits. While every customer is different, you will identify certain key similarities that you can use as you develop messaging that resonates with them.
Craft your brand messaging. Develop a consistent, cohesive and compelling set of messages that articulates your value proposition and speaks directly to your target audience. Your messaging should be memorable, easy to understand, and differentiate your brand from competitors. And, again, it should be your message alone.
Tell your brand story. Create a narrative that brings your brand to life and connects with your target audience on an emotional level. This is where customer success stories can really play a part in connecting with your prospects. You want to show how your customers haver achieved their goals with your guidance — not the technology that you provided them, but what they were able to accomplish.
Amplify your brand message. Share your brand story through a variety of channels and touchpoints, including your website, social media, content marketing, tradeshows, advertising, public relations and other marketing initiatives. Consistency and repetition are key to building a strong and recognizable brand story.
Building and sharing a strong brand story begins with understanding what you bring to the table and how you’re different than your competitors. Your brand story should be authentic, engaging, and memorable. The “authentic” part is often the toughest — but that’s often why your customers trust you in the first place.
Arthur Germain is the principal and chief brandteller at Brandtelling. He has recently authored a book called "The Art of Brandtelling: Brand Storytelling for Business Success," available in paperback, Kindle and e-book formats. Visit TheArtofBrandtelling.com for information.
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