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How to Differentiate Your MSP: 3 Steps to Success

A client asks why they should hire you over your competitor. What do you say? Every business owner should have the answer to this question, but in some industries, such as managed services, many businesses have similar offerings.

Author: Joshua Lambert, technical competitive intelligence manager, Datto Inc.

In this article, we’re going to highlight some tactics you can use to stay competitive in the channel.

1. Self Audit Before You Look at Your Competition

When the topic of differentiation comes up, companies often focus on their competitors. They look to compare what they offer versus others in their market. However, it’s more beneficial to look inwards first. Audit your services, products, and the value you bring to your clients. Review the feedback you have from your current clients and decide how you can update and improve what you currently offer to provide better value to those you serve. What is your current roadmap for more services or offerings?

This exercise establishes a baseline of what value you can offer to clients. Once you have that baseline established, then and only then, you can look at what the competition is doing.

Tip: Don’t get lost in a product and feature comparison while you’re talking to your potential clients. This shifts the focus from the value that you bring to a direct comparison between you and your competitors. Focus on where you excel, not where your competitors falter.

2. Be Strategic In Your Competitive Analysis

Go to your local chamber of commerce and other business networking events and talk to others in your geographic area, in your industry, in the verticals you serve. Do research about your clients, the verticals they are in and the adjacent verticals. These tactics will give you a chance to learn more about the opportunities available to your business. Just remember:

  • Don’t compare yourself to competitors that are in the exact same verticals as you are. Doing so may stall your innovation and cause you to simply copy the path of your direct competitors. Instead, take a look at companies that are in similar verticals but may serve markets that you don’t or provide services you haven’t explored yet. You’ll see how their services differ and it may help you expand your service offerings and your roadmap for the future.
  • Look at your origin story. How did you get your start in the business? Did you work in one of the verticals that you currently serve? Do you bring insights to the table, due to your previous experience, that are desirable to your clients? Your origin story is another great way to differentiate yourself.
  • Remember that you may be able to differentiate yourself based on location. Are you involved in your community? Do you know the challenges the companies in your area face and the opportunities they might be able to take advantage of? Having these insights into the situation your clients are in because you are located in the same area is definitely a point of differentiation.

3. Educate Your Team On Your Company’s Unique Value

Once you gather the intelligence  discussed above take time to synthesize it into a set of clear messages that can be used in almost any situation to illustrate what differentiates your company. Package your messaging in a variety of mediums that can be easily accessed and used by your team in conversations with potential clients. In addition, to ensure this messaging remains up to date, create a routine cadence for reviewing your intelligence and updating your communications materials.

This is truly just the tip of the iceberg. Check out our State of the Channel podcast episode on this topic for more details and insights on how you can successfully differentiate your business.


Josh Lambert is technical competitive intelligence manager at Datto Inc. Read more Datto blogs here.

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