6 Best Ways To Differentiate and Make Your Competition Irrelevant


Not many would argue that technology is ever evolving, and the MSP business is always changing!

In my MSP, I was so grateful for everyone who shared their smarts, for the networking groups, and for some of the best vendor events ever.  

In the MSP community, we teach one another how to package our offerings and how to charge.  Gray areas?  Never.  Adds, moves and changes.  Hmm.  We select our tech and our vendors, purchase software for ticketing, monitoring, documenting, metrics, quoting, billing, on and on.  

We grow awesome MSP’s.  But, we look alike to most prospects and create commodities that have us competing on price.

Well, it’s time to differentiate your MSP.  And, I don’t mean when we boast of our service, smart techs, our “all you can eat” plans, backups, monitoring, patching, on-call service, or our friendly help desk.  Since we’re professionals, those are expectations.

So, Here are a Few of My Favorite Ways to Differentiate Your Business!

Become the Perfect Match for a Target Market

To be the expert in a certain industry or vertical is a great way to go.  As the “obvious choice,” you’ll reduce your competition, boost your close rate, and maybe even raise your service rates.  When you understand your client so well that you can address their pains better than most anyone, you’re in a winning position.

That’s not to say you must support one or two industries in lieu of all others.  However, give those select group(s) special focus.  Consider becoming a member of their networking groups, attending and sponsoring events, and learning their unique needs and troubles.  Before long, you’ll be ready to add targeted landing pages to your website, and set a marketing strategy to nurture new clients to your business.  Ratchet things up a notch with a special interest in that niche’s software.  You may be amazed by what happens.

Make “IT” Simple

With the complexity of IT and cyber security, prospects are ready for an all-around simple, user-friendly IT service.  

Consider an easy pricing plan for your MSP packages, one that prospects can calculate on their own, if you don’t have one already.  How about simple contracts and electronic signatures?  (Simple, but safe on the contracts.)

It’s finally time to remove the gray areas from those support plans, too.  “We can remove your old computer and install your new one at no additional charge … except if Y or during Z.”  I may be exaggerating a little, but I’ll bet you’ve seen those lines.  One thing for sure, not much stirs clients or worries prospects more than unexpected invoices.

Everything from easy client onboarding with an orientation program, to special hours and loaner computers, may apply here … as long as it’s simple.

Differentiate Your MSP by Educating Your Clients and Prospects

With websites, email, social media, and so many other outlets, we have a tremendous platform to educate our clients and prospects.  Teaching builds authority and trust, and transparency makes it happen even faster.  

Standardizing education can move your MSP up the stack to where there’s less competition and higher prices.  If your team can bridge the gap between technology and business, it may be time to take advantage. 

Creating educational content for all to see is also a terrific tactic to be found on the web.  Commit to a video or text blog.  Answer the technical questions and provide how-to’s, but don’t forget to address the “tough questions,” too.  That’s a differentiator in itself, but as your collection of unique articles grows, more people will find your MSP higher up in the search engine results.

Consider addressing topics like, when break/fix may be better, when on-premise is the best solution (and vice versa), and even tackling the cost of managed services, if only in a ballpark sort of way.  Remember, it’s Google’s goal to provide the best answers in search results, and the fewer people answering these questions, the better for you.

It’s true that you may occasionally deter a prospect with a transparent answer, but those are the wrong prospects so that’s okay.  You won’t have a misfitting client, and they can move on to find their perfect provider.  Better, though, this process works just as well in reverse.  Your future clients will be an awesome match!

Remember, Marketing Is The New Sales

Spend time on Reddit, LinkedIn, Facebook and the other social channels.  Answer questions and form relationships.  Be as helpful as you can, people helping people.  This a great way to start no pressure conversations that may progress into sales opportunities.  The more you participate, the more your prospects will know, like and trust you.  

This may be my favorite way to differentiate your business.  If you’re familiar with Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, you may have heard, “It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.”

Differentiate Your Business with a Great Service Guarantee

Why not implement a terrific service guarantee (of course assuming your service level is ready).  Guarantees lower the bar to purchasing.  There are so many types to choose from: money back, try before you buy, results-oriented, make things right, response time, and so forth.  Harvard Business Review considers a good service guarantee to be:

  • Unconditional
  • Easy to understand and communicate
  • Meaningful
  • Easy (and painless) to invoke
  • Easy and quick to collect on

Analyze The Competition

No discussion on differentiating your MSP would be complete without a competitor review.

If you’re not sure who your competitors are, search Google for the keyword: Managed Services in (Your Home Town).  Google will display local MSP’s and a map in the “Local Pack” section of the search results, about one-third of the way down the page.  

See our blog article: Local SEO: Get Noticed Online By Your Local Prospects and our Local Edge Program for much more information on how to stand out and get more leads!

While there on the search page, read each competitor’s reviews.  They’re often a goldmine for competitive insight and differentiators. 

Then, visit their websites for service and product offerings, the “about us” page, testimonials (another treasure trove), awards, partner logos and other trust signals.

Up for a Good Book?

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Steve Miller, marketing expert and author of Uncopyable: How to Create an Unfair Advantage Over Your Competition, at his speaking engagement.  Steve was telling the story of his father who was a co-inventor of the 8-track tape player.  It was a complete game-changer, but was soon overtaken by the more convenient cassette tape.  Steve makes the point, it’s not enough to be better, you must be Uncopyable.  It’s a favorite of mine!