Apple Store Inspires ConnectWise Executives

Where do you go for inspiration? Before you answer, consider the situation at ConnectWise. Roughly two months ago, ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini and COO Santo Cannone shared an "ah-ha" moment at an Apple Store in Tampa, Fla. As customers visited the Apple Genius Bar and interacted with Apple representatives, Bellini and Cannone discussed where to take ConnectWise next.

As we spoke more and more about Apple's strategy, it was clear Bellini had done his homework. He's particularly impressed with Apple's ProCare strategy. Ultimately, Bellini says, ConnectWise decided to invest $3 million in customer education and related services -- including ConnectWise University. The reason: Bellini says wants ConnectWise partners to feel the same type of passion and loyalty that Apple customers feel.

"I remember telling Santo 'this is what I want for ConnectWise,' " says Bellini. "Apple has it right."

I tend to agree. MSPmentor and its parent, Nine Lives Media Inc., depend heavily on Apple Store service.

The University education and customer care theme are increasingly common across the managed services market.  For example, N-able CEO Gavin Garbutt in April described his company's new online training program to me.

What's In Store

Still, sometimes a short trip to a local retail store can sharpen a company's vision. In addition to the ConnectWise-Apple Store example, consider a similar situation at Lenovo.

After Lenovo acquired IBM's PC business and the ThinkPad laptop portfolio, some ThinkPad executives were unsure of the company's core mission and brand essence. So David Hill, who heads up corporate brand and identity for the ThinkPad line, took a few Lenovo executives to the local Harley-Davidson showroom in Raleigh, N.C., for inspiration.

In the book "The Race for Perfect," author Steve Hamm summarizes Lenovo's ah-ha moment as follows:
Hill thought the dealership would be an inspiring setting, since Harley's powerful brand, quality engineering, and design traditions had kept the company successful decade after decade. ThinkPad had the same type of tradition,and [Hill] wanted to make the similarities between the Harley and ThinkPad brands crystal clear.
It sounds like Bellini and Cannone had a similar "ah-ha" moment when they stepped in the Apple Store.

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