Your local expertise is your competitive MSP advantage. Lean into it.
One of the things I enjoy the most about my job as the CEO of a marketing agency that caters specifically to MSPs is that I get to see a bird's eye view of the trends happening in the industry.
Illustration: Karthikeyan Ganesh
Entering 2021, one trend that shows no signs of slowing down is something that a lot of you are probably familiar with: MSPs operate in an increasingly competitive market. So really, I don't blame those who choose to rely on their technical strengths as their competitive advantage — it's just that in my opinion, they usually end up overlooking something even more important because of it.
Far too many MSPs assume that the only way to attract more customers is to tout the strength of their services. But IT decision-makers don't just want to know what you do — they want to know how you do it and why you do it. They also want to know where you're operating.
Related reading: 8 tips for launching a managed services business in 2021
There's a reason why Google has reported a 900% increase in "near me" searches over the past few years — people want local because local means personal. Local means intimate. Local means that they've found someone who understands their business inside and out and who, worst-case scenario, is just a short drive away if you need to meet face-to-face.
That's why your local expertise is absolutely a key competitive advantage and you should do whatever it takes to make 2021 the year you finally lean into it.
Now, I'd like to talk a little bit more about how.
Play up the value of on-site visits
Yes, it's absolutely true that we're still firmly entrenched in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. On-site visits may not be possible for the foreseeable future if they're even possible in your area right now. But that's okay because someday soon they'll be back on the table again and they're absolutely something you can use to separate yourself from your competitors.
Sure, you can probably fix the majority of issues remotely these days, but in that rare situation where something particularly challenging does crop up, an MSP located halfway across the country isn't going to hop in the car and ride over. They're not going to be available at odd hours to get everything back up and running again. They're not going to be able to go above and beyond to make sure that the job gets done.
But you are.
Likewise, you can also occasionally take people out to dinner or invite them to your company holiday party — also things that your non-local "competitors" won't be able to match.
Beat the drum of those important local issues
Along the same lines, you really want to show off your local expertise by reiterating that you understand the location-specific challenges that people are facing. If you live in an area that is particularly prone to heavy flooding during the summer, for example, don't just say that you offer a business continuity strategy. Explain why your business continuity strategy is uniquely suited and effective against natural disasters like flooding because that's ultimately one of the things that your potential customers will be most concerned about.
Not only does this show people that you understand the very real (and sometimes specific) challenges that they themselves are thinking about, but it also reiterates that you have a plan in place to help people address them. But more than that, it shows your local audience that you actually care about their success which is one of the major things that will get them to pick up the phone and give you a call.
Cater to the local industries and businesses
Finally, to really turn your local expertise into one of your most powerful competitive advantages, make sure that you're setting up your business to serve the most common types of local businesses in the first place.
Most MSPs will say that they "provide custom solutions that were designed with your business in mind." But you need to make sure that those businesses actually operate in the geographic area that you do. This means that if you're in an area with a heavy manufacturing presence, you'd better believe you should talk about "custom solutions" with specific language that speaks to the heart of these organizations. The same is true if you have a lot of agricultural businesses or organizations that are operating in the financial sector.
If you can make it crystal clear that your "custom solutions" are backed by legitimate, industry-specific experience, you'll immediately separate yourself from your competitors in a way that also establishes a tremendous amount of authority at the exact same time. That authority will breed confidence, which is an excellent starting position for any MSP to be in - but you'll only be able to get to that point if you cater to the businesses around you.
Which direction will your MSP go in?
In the end, what you really need to do is make your target customers believe that you're someone worth paying attention to - not because you have X number of clients all across the country, but because you live, eat and work in the same area they do. If you're able to do that, you'll be able to do something that your competitors never can - and you'll enjoy a tremendous amount of success as a result.
I've seen MSPs leverage their local expertise to generate hundreds of leads so far this year alone – could your business see the same benefit? At Tech Pro Marketing, we're happy to help you find out. Schedule a strategy call with our MSP marketing experts to help you figure out the next big move your MSP needs to make to take advantage of your competitive advantage.
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