“Building a business with influence” has become a buzzword among today’s entrepreneurs because it works — when done correctly. To prosper over time, every business must not only deliver financial performance but lead with influence. Once you start building your influence in the channel, you are bound to grow multifold and earn respect from your customers and employees alike, which can lead to lucrative partnerships.
The road to building influence in the channel isn’t about sharing your product brochures on social media or doing pitches at trade shows; it’s about leveraging deep industry knowledge to provide valuable education and shine a light on key MSP trends and challenges. Furthermore, it’s about positioning yourself as an expert in the industry by becoming a trusted member of the MSP community—one who contributes to building a healthy industry for everyone.
Build connections via purposeful content
All in all, establishing influence in your industry is about being present and showcasing your expertise through various channels and mediums. Here, I can’t emphasize enough the power of purposeful content creation. Blogging, podcasts, whitepapers, and webinars can humanize your business and, as an extension, your MSP brand. Even when the content you create isn’t directly related to your product offering, it conveys your MSP’s authentic and knowledgeable voice to industry stakeholders.
Be willing to share your knowledge
One of the best ways to leverage your industry experience is to help educate others, whether that be at conferences, through podcasts, during webinars, with CoP, or through mentorship. Whichever avenue you take, be intentional to elicit long-term change. If you ask me personally, getting engaged in the MSP community has been a key to getting the word out about our business and building our influence in the channel. To achieve this, we created Built IT – our education-focused division that includes the annual MSP education conference such as Build IT Live, the online MSP University: Build IT U, and the newest addition – Build IT Communities of Practice. Each element of the Build IT portfolio reflects our passion for excellence – our hallmark of influence within the MSP community for years.
Boost engagement through influencer partnerships
One key strategy in positioning yourself as an industry influencer is partnering with other influencers in the MSP space. For Build IT CoP, we have partnered with influential domain experts such as sales icon Jack Daly and strategy guru David Mitchell. Partnering with The John C. Maxwell Team for leadership and Jeff Henderson, former CMO of Chick-fil-A, for marketing mentorship has helped us extend our influence as a Master MSP. We also work closely with vendor partners, which may seem unusual in a highly competitive industry such as ours. But, as responsible, responsive services providers, we want to make it easy for MSPs to build their successful businesses, and that goes more smoothly when their chosen vendors work together. We create content, share knowledge, and more as we extend our brands together.
Be transparent and honest in everything you do
Having integrity is the ultimate characteristic of any influential business. I’ve seen several MSPs that use manipulative tactics and fear-mongering to sell their customers products they don’t need. An influential MSP practices honesty, and strong principles, and dares to step out of the comfort zone to take a stand as an advocate of strong business ethos. From a marketing campaign to service delivery—keep your commitments and be careful not to make promises, you might not be able to fulfill.
Up your game
Every business is different, and an influential MSP takes the time to understand this. When you understand your clients’ business profiles, you are better equipped to extend tailored IT services that only add to your influence. It is important to recognize business innovation and manpower’s role to sustain your influence as well.
Introduce innovation in everything, right from risk-mitigating technologies, and business practices, to strategies that improve customer satisfaction. Encourage your engineers to pursue as many certifications and qualifications as possible. Pay for or reimburse for continuing professional education and get them trained by industry experts so they can be on top of their game.
We all know that building a great rapport with clients is the key to retaining them, elemental to successfully running an MSP and extending its influence in an industry that is people-driven and customer-obsessed. So, make best customer support practice evident in everything you do – security, disaster recovery planning, business continuity, and risk management.
Apart from offering solutions, forge strong relationships with your existing clients on the backbone of engaging content. Continue educating them through educational emails, webinars, tutorials, and videos showcasing best practices and thought leadership. To engage with them on a personal level, have frequent non-technical meetings.
Final Thought: Do you have any idea how much influence your MSP commands today in the channel and what is your business doing to extend that influence? In a people-driven business landscape such as managed IT, creating your sphere of influence—internally, with customers, and with vendors who share your values—is a great tool to differentiate your MSP from the competition. Establishing internal company culture around clients’ needs and creating meaningful content to educate peers can help you exactly do that.