Why You Should Create a Unique Managed Services Brand
Concept Synonymous Branding
MSP business models would do well to consider that some people equate an entire brand with a singular concept. As an example, consider a likely episode from your own daily grind. You're parched, it's lunchtime. Do you say, "let's get a carbonated beverage"? Do you say, "I could really do with a soda-pop?" Or do you say, "Let's go get a Coke?" Or, "I need to grab a Pepsi"? When you do get to the soda machine, do you grab a Coca-Cola? Do you grab a Pepsi-Cola? Or do you get Mountain Dew, or Dr. Pepper? Do you push the Mr. PiBB button?
Sometimes even if you say, "I'm gonna grab a coke", really you mean, "I'm gonna grab whatever carbonated beverage tweaks my mental tastebuds when I look at the options on the machine". In your mind, the concept of a carbonated, sugary beverage has become epitomized by a singular brand -- in America, that's usually Coke or Pepsi. Other places have other proclivities, however; and concept-synonymous branding isn't restricted to soft-drinks. When you think "whiskey", do you think Jack Daniels? When you think Vodka, do you think "Skyy"? When you think "truck", do "Ford" or "Dodge" pop into your head? Concept-synonymous branding stretches across the board; from food to utilities and beyond. Additionally, this psychological outcome is deliberately designed by branding agencies.
You want to have concept synonymous branding define your MSP business locally. While this is an attainable goal, it's going to require concerted effort, and it likely won't happen overnight. Tips to get your brand at such a level include:
- Make your business continuously relevant to the local community.
- Get involved with sponsorship events.
- Quid pro quo advertisement; a company gets "free" service so long as they mention yours.
- General marketing -- television, radio, SEO, etc.
- Cross-promotional advertisement.
- Product placement.
There are always political events happening in LA. If you really want to tap into ROI-rich marketing, jump on the bandwagon with some of them. Granted, you want those -- with whom you jump on the bandwagon -- to be the kind of folks whom your clientele would approve of. I.E., if your primary clients are in the tech industry, it might not be a wise idea for you to provide technical support for an anti-Internet rally -- ironic as the need for that support at such a rally may be. But you would want to sponsor a technology expo if you were able to get such an opportunity. And then you'd want to take the quid pro quo approach, where those who used your services mention as much to the gathered crowd.
Additionally, you're going to need some presence in realms of traditional advertisement, but if you can go the cross-promotional angle, you'll save money here. Your MSP may provide a certain kind of service, and there may be a certain kind of computer that is most amenable to your purposes. So work with the manufacturers of that computer, and see if you can't get some packaged deals arranged which automatically include your services with their hardware, or vice versa.
Lastly, LA is a powder-keg of advertisement potentiality. Films have been using product placement for decades. The thing to consider here is that it isn't cheap; but choose the right motion picture vehicle and you stand to have very successful returns based on your investment.
Think Outside The Box
To get your MSP brand synonymous with the services you provide is an exploit that will take a lot of time and a lot of effort. But it is something which has been done, can be done, and is worth doing. The best way to get people into colloquially referencing your brand is voluntarily. Your MSP business must be so well-received that people just use its name as a summary for the products/support provided. If you want to be successful in this endeavor, you'll have to think outside the box. Traditional methods of branding can be useful, but expanding beyond them will more organically encourage free association between potential clients. So find where your clients congregate, and affect them directly in a way that is unobtrusive, but simultaneously beyond denial.
About the author
Brent Whitfield is CEO of DCG Technical Solutions, Inc. providing IT Support in the Los Angeles area since 1993. He started DCG as a results-oriented IT solutions company for small businesses in 1990, and built it into a company that was recognized among the Top 10 Fastest Growing MSPs in North America by MSP mentor. Brent has been featured in Fast Company, CNBC, Network Computing, Reuters, and Yahoo Business.