Branding 101 for Managed Services Providers

During a keynote at Autotask Community Live this morning, best-selling author Jackie Freiberg delivered a familiar theme to MSPs and VARs. Her key message: Build your brand to differentiate from the competition. The ultimate goal: If you were to close your business tomorrow, customers should miss you.

Many MSP industry leaders have delivered branding keynotes before. But Freiberg is an industry outsider who shared some unique views and twists on the topic of branding and differentiation. "What if you didn't rest your fame on your technical skill?" said Freiberg. "What if you focused on personal transformation, business transformation and industry transformation? Create an experience for your customers."

Some key takeaways...

1. Leaders don't just commit to branding. They get involved and set the standard: "So what are you going to differentiate all the products and services so that I choose you and become loyal and faithful to you?"

2. How big/different are you willing to play?: "These days it's about playing different. Don't talk up or down to people, speak with people and share your business acumen to take the business in a bold new direction." An example is Jenny Allen, a sales associate who sells meeting space in downtown San Diego. When a ski expert came to look at the meeting space, Allen showed up in a ski outfit -- in mid-August -- and explained the property using ski terminology.

3. When Ordinary People Collaborate it Creates An Extra-Ordinary Experience: When a law firm came to look at the property, Allen gathered her co-workers as a "jury" to explain each piece of the business to the client. Freiberg's key point: "Get other people to play ball on your team to create the customer experience."

4. Study Customer Buying Habits: Freiberg explained the business of Harry Rosen, executive chairman of Harry Rosen Inc., a menswear retailer. His success involves "building trust by getting men over the fear of buying for themselves." Freiberg said MSPs and VARs need to do the same, but in the technology industry. When men enter Rosen's stores, sales associates are instructed to learn about the potential customer's background rather than starting with sales-centric questions.

Bottom line: Learn how to celebrate your customers in personal ways to cement your relationship with them.

5. Don't Play Small: You've got product knowledge and technical expertise. "That's not enough," said Freiberg. "That's only 50 percent or 75 percent of the package. You need to complement your technical know-how with a brand that will different you." The goal: Escape from the sea of sameness," said Freiberg. "If your company were to disappear tomorrow would you be missed?"

6. Leaders Focus Forward: "Don't rest on the last deal," said Freiberg. When Tiger Woods was at the top of his game he still reinvented his swing. So why reinvent your brand? "Do it now on your terms before you have to," said Freiberg. "Are you personally equipped to live in a world of constant change?" The answer: Spend more time with your customers to navigate the drastic change. Collaborate, connect and network with customers and your peers, she said.

7. Closing Thoughts...

  • Stand out, play different
  • Keep/be a great company
  • Find a way to wash and wax the car (meaning: be proactive)
  • Feed the Good Wolf (courage, kindness and love) rather than the Bad Wolf (fear, anger and greed). Translation: Encourage team members to focus on the positive rather than dwelling on the negative
  • The world is plentiful... benchmark and share across the industry
  • Network, be interested and interesting
8. Leaders Don't Moan, They Move: That's pretty straightforward.

That's all for now. Back soon with more thoughts from Autotask Community Live.

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TAGS: Marketing
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