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Be a Great Independent Film, Not a Summer Blockbuster

Be a Great Independent Film, Not a Summer Blockbuster

The Toronto Film Festival recently wrapped up. I read about some of the films that the cinephiles loved, and it occurred to me that I’ve never heard of most of them and probably won’t see most of them. We hear about the blockbusters—massive films designed to appeal to everyone. Some blockbusters are darn good. I really liked The Avengers, and it made $1.5 billion! Of course, they cost so much to make that grossing $200 million barely generates a profit.

The most profitable movies are rarely blockbusters, if you look at return on investment (ROI). Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris cost just $17 million and grossed $145 million - an ROI of 8.5. Compare that with The Dark Knight Rises. With a budget of $250 million, its $1.1 billion take results in an ROI of just 4.3.

The key to an independent film’s profitability is not that they are bigger or more Oscar-worthy than everyone else. Rather, successful independent films understand their niche. They have a very specific understanding of who their audience is and what they want to see.  They can make huge profits by being fantastic examples of what their specific audience wants.

This is a lesson that Hollywood often forgets, but it’s also relevant to IT and Cloud Services. Amazon and Rackspace are huge. Chances are, no MSP is going to become the next huge, national cloud provider. What they CAN and SHOULD do is think like an independent filmmaker. Know who your client base is, what they need, and deliver it better than any massive service could.

MSPs need to communicate that “as-a-Service”—whether it’s infrastructure, storage, software, backup and recovery, or development platforms—is about more than technical details. It’s about the whole package of customer service. It’s about customization, responsiveness and a personal touch. It’s about expertise in the issues facing a particular industry, location or business type. THAT’S what MSPs can do that the huge providers can’t.

Show your clients how your service understands their needs and can give them exactly what they want better than anyone else. Before you approach them, be sure that your conversations and proposals keep these things in mind (if you don’t know, find out):

  • How tech savvy is the client – what level of personal service and support will they need?
  • What does the business climate look like in their area?
  • What issues are currently impacting their industry and how is the business coping with that?
  • What does the client think they want and what do they really need?
  • What are the most cost effective options for them?

Then, make sure you partner with solution providers and technology vendors who can provide the capabilities you need at a competitive price, so that you can achieve high margins while offering cost-effective services.

As your business grows, you can expand with it.  After all, Joss Whedon started out as a writer on Roseanne before creating Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and only then moved on to The Avengers. But he still remembers his independent days – after The Avengers, he made Much Ado About Nothing in just 12 days at his own house on a micro-budget; it made $4.3 million.


John McCallum is Vice President of Sales at Zenith Infotech. Zenith Infotech specializes in delivering enterprise-class IT solutions for virtualization, storage, and business continuity for IT providers. Zenith’s TigerCloud multi-tenant converged infrastructure enables partners to deliver hosted infrastructure. Zenith DRaaS, powered by the BDR-G14, supports onsite and offsite backup and recovery. Learn more at or email [email protected].

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