Business-Leader Lessons From Knott's Berry Farm

As an MSP, there are definitely lessons to be learned here.

Channel Partners

December 12, 2016

4 Min Read
Business-Leader Lessons From Knott's Berry Farm

David WalterBy David Walter

MSP business models would do well to learn from history, especially in regard to multinational exploits stemming from innovative ideas and their finest application. Consider Knott’s Berry Farm, as an example.

Knott’s represented one of the first “theme” parks in America. You may not be familiar with it today, unless you’re a big fan of the comic strip “Peanuts,” or if you live in southern California. But Knott’s Berry Farm would historically play a big part in what we all know today as Disneyland and related entertainment enterprises. Walt Disney himself visited Knott’s and appropriated some of the better ideas of the attraction for his own enterprises. Audio-animatronic implementation is known throughout Disney attractions — you know, the singing robots representing animated characters. Yet even this was a seed planted in Walt’s mind through something he saw at Knott’s Berry Farm.

As an MSP, there are definitely lessons to be learned here. Walt Disney took a burgeoning trend and improved on it in a way that ended up being ultimately lucrative across the board. And he didn’t have to destroy Knott’s in order to do so, either; the company still exists today.


The lesson to be learned here is that being first to market with an idea does not equate to complete market dominance in a perpetual way. It will give you an advantage, but – and especially if what you do is good – that advantage will be tempered by competitors. Now, if your business model isn’t designed to handle that kind of competition, you might want to get that figured out before you actually hit the market. On the other hand, if you’re a provider of services and have yet to truly capture that raison d’etre giving your business a central core, it’s not a bad idea to look at other successful providers and see where their practices can be legally appropriated in your own business. It’s not wrong to employ basic knowledge in operations; and if another MSP is doing it better than you, find out why, and if their ability to enhance services is something your organization can also do, following through makes sound business sense.

This is all said to make a specific point: if you’re late to the cloud-computing party, that doesn’t mean you’re without any hope; n fact, you could actually have a bit of an advantage, and using that advantage likely won’t put your pre-existing competitors out of business. Consider that those who have blazed the trail before you know what you’ll be up against. They’ve made mistakes that you can avoid, and they’ve found success in a way that you can likewise tap into much more quickly.

The Importance of Marketing

Where many MSP business exploits end up ultimately failing is on the marketing angle. Many just don’t realize the advantages cloud computing makes available for them, so they don’t pursue this new and lucrative innovative avenue. Successful MSPs are likely going to have a solid, recognizable cloud marketing strategy.

There are quite a few different applications of cloud computing technology that could be used to draw in a variety of diverse clients:

  • Personal application

  • Corporate application

  • Big data

  • Hybrid solutions

  • Public cloud options

  • Private cloud options

Cloud computing is used by individuals to back up their hard drives and other data. Smartphones and the like benefit greatly from cloud services, and companies like Verizon often give customers a complimentary five gigabytes right out the gate. In a corporate setting, cloud computing is usually tied up in things like big data, which use advanced computing power to effectively process terabytes of data in real time. A multinational corporation like Walmart stands to save millions – even billions – on a regular basis through big-data metrics being applied to shipping lines, regional sales and the like. But, with a big organization like Walmart, it doesn’t make sense to completely host cloud solutions on a public server. While cloud-computing security is second to none, it makes sense to be a little paranoid when literally billions are on the line. As a result, many big-ticket organizations go with a hybrid cloud solution, which combines public options with private options to ultimately produce the greatest utility.

Applying What You’ve Learned

An MSP business getting into the cloud-computing game needs to provide solutions for all these markets, and it needs to effectively advertise itself such that buyers in such markets are cognizant of its offerings. So look at what other cloud providers are giving clients, see what clients like, see what they don’t like, and see what is affordable to implement on your end. A considered approach built on existing data of this kind is sure to yield lucratively over time. Remember Knott’s Berry Farm and Walt Disney, who capitalized on Knott’s successful business model.

David Walter has 16 years of experience in MSP marketing for the IT industry, including his current position as marketing director at MSP SEO Factory. He also speaks at trade shows, is a sales trainer for major IT companies, and is a published author with an upcoming book titled “Stratospheric Marketing Secrets for Generating Sales Leads.”

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