Marketing is essential for any business, regardless of the industry. With so many different channels available to us today, it can be difficult to to navigate the heavy traffic and get your message in front of your target audience. Not to mention, smaller office equipment dealers and business solutions providers typically don’t have the resources or manpower to develop and sustain a marketing strategy to promote their brand. Hannah Erb, Director of Sales at Collabrance LLC, a subsidiary company of GreatAmerica Financial Services, was kind enough to share her unique insight on marketing a dealership and other subjects during an ITEX 365 Q&A session.

Hannah Erb, Director of Sales at Collabrance

What are the most effective ways dealers can market themselves?
“The most effective way office equipment dealers can market themselves is by creating content that answers their customer’s questions and proactively sharing them online. Collabrance read “They Ask, You Answer” by Marcus Sheridan and it has changed our marketing approach in an extremely positive way. Marcus advocates making the answers to your customer’s questions visible and easily accessible. Collabrance does this by generating a list of common MSP questions, answering them, and then sharing the content on our website so anyone interested in learning more about us as a Master MSP can easily find answers to their questions before ever reaching out to us. The results have been extremely impressive and allowed us to have conversations with already qualified MSP prospects or warm leads. I would highly recommend that everyone gets a copy of this book and starts implementing Marcus’s best practices today. Click here for more information on how to build trust and win more customers.”

How can dealers differentiate themselves from the competition?
“The biggest way office equipment dealers can differentiate themselves from their competition is by performing a technical and business discovery. Before proposing your managed IT solution, most competitors will simply install a discovery tool, generate the results, and base their proposal on these findings. This is an easy way find yourself in a price war. If you aren’t showing the end-user customer the value of your managed IT offering, then you will constantly be fighting the price. Our partners have seen success in performing their typical technical discovery while also having their SME perform a business discovery. This consists of interviewing all key employees to understand how you can make them more efficient and effective in their business. This will allow you quantify your managed IT prospect’s pain points, and show them how your managed IT solution will make them more profitable and productive. The value will then easily justify your cost. Click here to tips on how you can focus on the value, not the price of your managed services offering.”

How can traditional OEDs easily transition to offer Managed IT?
“Traditional OEDs have the option to build, buy, or partner when getting into managed IT services. Every business and business owner is different, and each business owner needs to spend the time to think about what managed IT services model is best for them. The fastest, most cost-effective way to get into the managed IT business is to partner with a Master MSP who has already built the platform, can share proven processes, provide tools, and help you resell their managed IT services solutions. The benefits of partnering with a Master MSP are that it requires a much smaller upfront investment, and you can go to market much faster with fewer risks. IT Service Providers can use a MSP platform and standardize technology stack that has already been proven versus trying to build their own, and can save loads of time by not having to worry as much about staffing, noise, and vendor management. In addition, Master MSPs have built very effective and efficient back-end systems that a business can use immediately versus building their own managed IT solution. This means a business can have a useful tech stack and extensive IT resources at their disposal. With the partnership option, make sure the Master MSP has a culture that aligns with yours, and learn as much as you can about how the Master MSP will treat your end-user customers. Choosing the wrong partner as an extension of your team can be detrimental if they are not a good fit, and that could reflect poorly on your customers and business. Click here for more information about your options to build, buy or partner.”

When attending a trade show like ITEX, how can dealers meet the optimal amount of prospects in the shortest amount of time?
“When attending a trade show like ITEX, office equipment dealers can meet the optimal amount of prospects in the shortest amount of time by separating from your group and going out to meet new people! Networking events offer so many different opportunities to interact with those around you-so take advantage of this! You could even give out some bottled water from Custom Water to potential clients and businesses, to help get your company seen. Trade shows are a great place to show off your brand! Participate in the office equipment industry events, whether that means staying up past your bedtime to enjoy a sponsored happy hour, or waking up early to participate in a group training session. These are excellent opportunities to engage with your peers in a comfortable setting. Click here for networking tips for your next tradeshow event!”

Where do you see the industry heading? What services are dealers likely to offer within the next decade?
“I see the office equipment industry heading to an increase in outsourcing. Whether that is with a technical provider you use, your IT security offering, or sales training, there will be an uptick. The exciting part is this will create an opportunity for all of us to look inside our business and determine how we can make ourselves more productive and efficient to grow.

Advanced security will become one of the biggest trends in services dealers are likely to offer within the next decade. With all of the data breaches and viruses headlining the news, companies are going to be looking to IT service providers to educate and keep them safe. Those service providers who do not jump on this “Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP)” opportunity will slowly begin getting beat by their competition. Check out our blog for our upcoming podcast on the Collabrance 2019 predictions. Hint: one is security!”

Collabrance LLC builds strategic, long term, mutually beneficial partnerships with progressive Service Providers of business technology solutions committed to providing exceptional Managed IT Services, or Managed Network Services, to their customers. You maintain ownership of the customer, while we deliver service excellence through a comprehensive suite of IT solutions and behind-the-scenes customer support.