When an MSP sees you, your co-workers, your website, social channels, or trade show booth, what do they see? How do they perceive you? With clarity or confusion?
Last month, I wrote an article highlighting 6 Strategies to Become a Trusted V.E.N.D.O.R. Using an acronym for the word “vendor,” I highlighted six soft skill strategies to focus on to build trust with an MSP and influence them to become an official partner.
This article goes deeper on the “V” in V.E.N.D.O.R., and specifically on how to make sure that the visuals an MSP sees build brand credibility versus brand confusion.
A Confused Buyer Never Buys
I’ve been in the channel for 25 years and have seen vendors come and go. I eagerly attend industry events in the hopes of building rapport with my existing vendors and learn about new solutions that will help my clients grow.
Inevitably, I walk away from each event feeling frustrated by at least a handful of vendors if not more who didn’t leave me with a complete understanding of who they are and the value of their product or service.
Never mind having a conversation with them, which I’ll talk about in my upcoming “D” for dynamic dialogue article. My frustration begins and ends pretty quickly just by doing a bit of research online and meeting their team members personally.
Often, the sales reps and business owners are the “technical ones” in the business. Is this you? If so, you probably put a stronger emphasis on product development versus human development. Why? Because that is your comfort zone.
You believe that your amazing product will sell itself. And sometimes, if your product is that good, is in high demand, and has little competition, it will. However, in our industry, there are probably several products like yours. So you must gain brand awareness and credibility to make your organization stand out from the sea of sameness.
Don’t Mistake Your Corporate Brand for Your Personal Brand
Your corporate brand is how your business is viewed by others outside of your organization. A strong brand is like a powerful magnet. It attracts customers and partners to your company, media attention, and most importantly brand loyalty.
Focusing on the visual aspects of your corporate brand first, are they memorable or meh? If you don’t know, exercise #1 is to ask your employees and clients for feedback.
Assess these four visual aspects of your corporate brand that your audience observes when they first meet you. Are they clear? Aligned with your corporate mission? Consistently displayed everywhere?
- Corporate Name – When a prospect approaches your booth at an event or finds you online, can they pronounce your corporate name? If it’s unusual, is there a quick tag line that gives the reader an additional clue as to what you do? My MSP was originally called “PC Troubleshooters.” For the first 10 years, that name was perfect and clear. However, as managed services and cybersecurity services grew in our industry, that name was putting us in a silo. Every trade show we attended, someone would ask, “do you just fix PCs? Can you handle my sophisticated needs?” Fast forward to today and my MSP, Secure Future Tech Solutions, has shifted the narrative to prospects asking, “how will you secure my network for the future?” Now that is a question I want to answer!
- Logo – This is the most notable aspect of your corporate brand, also known as your visual identity. For good reason. Core values are what your client experiences; your logo is what your client sees. Make sure it is consistently displayed on your website, invoices, contracts, trade show booth, corporate swag, and social media channels. Your goal is to be as identifiable as the Nike swoosh symbol.
- Corporate Colors – Bonus points if you infuse your corporate colors into everything outward facing that you create, such as PowerPoint slides, social media posts, uniforms for trade shows, and trade show booth colors.
- Social Media Channels – There is nothing more powerful to brand messaging than the use of social media. Be very intentional and strategic about the content you post on your business channels, and your personal ones if you’ve chosen to connect with colleagues there too. What a great opportunity to build brand awareness by sharing your corporate good news with the masses. Show good will by sharing the good news of your clients and community too. As quick as your good news can be shared, though, so too can bad news spread, so be careful not to post negative comments or express ill will here.
Now that your corporate brand is in motion, it is time to take stock in the “human side” of your organization. In the image industry, we call this a “visual signature.” What visual message are you and your team sending? The branding assessment usually begins and ends with your logo and website. Did you know that each employee has a personal brand too? The more influential the brand is, the stronger your corporate brand will grow.
A personal brand has two components. First is executive presence. This is how others perceive you when you walk onto a stage, turn on that Zoom camera, or step into a sales meeting. The second aspect is what your peers, clients, and followers say about you when you are not in the room. The goal is to create raving fans by having a team that can handle any interaction with poise and professionalism!
Often, your personal brand begins to form before you even utter a word. Perception is so powerful. Does your appearance and/or that of your team align with your corporate brand values? Did I just send cold shivers down your spine?
Let me warm you up with these five visual aspects of your personal brand that when polished will build authority and trust.
- Dress for your industry event – The saying goes, “you have no more than seven seconds to make a great first impression.” I say, in today’s distracted world, you have no more than three! I am not insisting on suits here! Rather, focus on wearing an outfit that both aligns with your corporate brand and is appropriate for your day’s events. A great example is this picture of my fabulous Channel Mastered teammates who recently attended ChannelCon in Las Vegas! Their booth “uniform” consisted of red T-shirts and dark wash jeans. The red aligns with our corporate brand colors.
We also gave the perception that we pay attention to detail. This “perception” can translate to a prospect believing that our work will be detailed and thought through as well.
- Groom or Doom – Men: To shave, trim, or brush – that is the question you should address every morning. There is nothing worse than working so hard preparing for an interview or presentation and blowing it because your beard is unruly or the audience on the other end is fixated on a random hair peeking out of your nose!
Ladies: The same holds true for us too. Grooming matters. I always want you to be you. A simple skincare routine of moisturizer and lip balm, along with styled hair, sends an, ‘I take care of myself and respect my brand’ message too.
All: We are all dependent on our keyboards and smartphones for demonstrating products and services. Make sure when your hands are part of the demo that nails are trimmed and clean. Who wants to be remembered for dirt under our nails?
- Posture – If you are meeting someone for the first time who is looking down with forlorn shoulders, (barring any physical limitations) what is your first impression? Shy? Lacking in confidence? Our minds then may shift to other team members over the service itself. Is the rest of the support team shy and lacking in confidence too? Will this impact the support I receive? As a team discussion, ask how you want to posture your brand and then determine the physical posture that will help build confidence and trust.
- Eye Contact and a Smile – Authenticity is seen in the eyes. Open them, look at your audience, and complement your smiling eyes with an upturned, smiling mouth too. What a perfect way to kick off any engagement on a positive, “I’m happy to see you,” note. This will enhance your status and others’ perception of you.
Etiquette Tip: Not sure how long to maintain eye contact? In a 1:1 conversation, look someone in the eye for three to five seconds and then slowly look away for a few seconds. Think about looking just long enough to recognize eye color. Darting your eyes too quickly can make you appear nervous or distracted. In a group conversation, make eye contact with each member in the group for three to five seconds versus focusing on one person. This will help your audience feel like they are engaged in the conversation.
- Turn on your camera – Let your hybrid audience see you! A turned-off camera is truly a distraction to your message. You are making your audience inevitably ask why is their camera off? Did they shower today? Are they multi-tasking while they are talking to me? What are they wearing? Is their office a mess? Insert your thoughts here ______________! Personal brand strategies 1 to 4 apply in the remote environment too. You want to appear interested, confident, and prepared for your meeting.
There is a common saying that “we listen with our eyes.” What message are your corporate and personal brands sending? If you are struggling to build credibility in the MSP community, start by asking yourself, “What do I see?” Are you clearly in focus?
If you are not sure or simply want to take your brand awareness with MSPs even further, reach out to me and the expert team at Channel Mastered. We’d be happy to talk about it.