Today, the Cowshed received a small email from an Managed Services Provider (MSP) that required a very large answer:
“What is your advice to small IT companies looking to distinguish themselves in the market?”
So we thought for a bit and then decided to give a few pointers which we felt you might want to ponder on as well.
If you want to stand out, you should start would looking within your business:
Looking on the inside:
- What are the strengths of those who work for the company? i.e. Do you have examples of consistent positive behaviour that your clients and customers have commented on that you could communicate to your prospects?
- Do you outsource your on-site work or is one of your strengths that you only use in-house staff that will therefore offer a consistent level of service that they’ve come to expect from you.
- Do you have skill areas that most of your competitors don’t?
- How many years of business experience do you all collectively have? This is often under played in IT companies but something that business clients appreciate.
- What is the vision of your business – have you shared that with your clients in a way that shows them you’re growing both in terms of size and expertise?
Looking on the outside:
- What are the things that your clients and customers love about you? Is it that you answer the phone personally and/or you regularly check in on them even if there’s nothing wrong?
- Are you geographically situated close to your customers so that you can reach them better or they can visit you?
- Do you have facilities where you can welcome clients along to meet with?
- Do you regularly run training days that will empower your clients and deliver a greater return on their investment with you?
- Are you connected with other businesses that you can strategically partner with both in terms of skill sets and business opportunities?
Remember, you are not unique – there will be at least a thousand other companies of a similar situation promoting similar characteristics. What will make you stand out is how you deliver these messages to your existing and prospective customer base.
This is just a starter for ten but should at least help you think about how to best distinguish yourself. A day’s worth of brainstorming with a whiteboard where ‘anything goes’ is usually really useful in unlocking new ways of achieving this.
This is of course not all you need to think about but it should be generic enough to help you no matter what line of business you are in.
Susanne Dansey is the Managing Director of Purple Cow Ideas Management – an organisation that helps technology organisations redesign their business models to help them build better relationships with their customers. You can follow the team on Twitter and join the conversation on Facebook.