Two areas of business quickly differentiate great channel partners from the rest — Customer Service and Brand Recognition. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos once said: “In the old world, you devoted 30 percent of your time to building a great service and 70 percent of your time to shouting about it. In the new world, that inverts.” This statement is true for most companies, but it doesn’t represent the reality VARs and MSPs are facing.
Great channel partners have always focused on delivering exceptional service. It’s part of their DNA and core differentiation. Yet, for many, building the company’s brand — much less shouting about it — has never been a priority, until recently.
A new frontier
In response to new technologies, tools, trends, and increased competition, more and more VARs and MSPs are investing in building their own brand while enhancing their service levels. For many, the marketing frontier marks a more business-minded era for the company and the start of an exit strategy — Brand it and build it so others will want to buy it. For others, it is about re-energizing the existing brand and growing the business organically or through acquisition. Either way, growth is a common denominator, as is increased market awareness of their value and specialization.
As a channel PR and marketing guide, it’s rewarding to see the days where channel partners relied on the vendor brand go dark and be replaced with differentiated brand promises that stick. There’s no question the channel has evolved. Business needs are different, and the conversation has changed. IT is a critical part of business strategy and the solution to many of today’s toughest challenges. And the best news is no one is better positioned to capitalize on that than a service-minded, specialized channel partner with a killer brand and the right relationships to make it all happen.
Time to take action
If you’re a VAR or MSP sitting on the fence about whether or not to invest in marketing and refresh or rebrand your company, stop contemplating. Your time is now. Your value is building in the eyes of decision makers and business owners, and your expertise is in high demand.
If you’re looking for some pointers on how to get started, check out this post from Agency Ingram Micro VP of Marketing Jennifer Anaya. We presented at CompTIA recently on the topic of branding on a budget. The takeaway was this: Be true to what you deliver, be proud of who you are, and learn how to use the mediums available to you to generate awareness, thought leadership, and demand.
Your brand is your promise. It defines and differentiates you. As Bezos famously said, it’s "what others say when you’re not in the room." So be authentic. Be bold. And be consistent. Take your legacy of customer service and specialization and shout about it to an audience that wants to hear you in a voice they can relate to and a medium that makes sense. Your service excellence and sincerity is what the new world wants and what the old world misses. Turn up the volume on your value and keep investing in your service-oriented culture.
About the Author: As president and founder of WhiteFox Marketing & Communications, Marie Rourke is recognized throughout the IT channel for her straightforward, business-minded approach to channel marketing, PR and communications. With more than 15 years of experience in the IT channel, she is a friendly face at industry events and a respected advisor and colleague to many of the channel’s most innovative companies and business partners. Marie launched WhiteFox in 2005 with the vision of bringing channel relationships, marketing, PR and communications to the forefront of companies’ business growth strategies and tactics.