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MSP Difference Maker: Your Website

Posted by Jeff Salanco on Oct 4, 2016 7:00:00 AM

The MSP Difference Maker Series explores how best-in-class managed service providers (MSPs) create differentiation in the market. MSP best practices related to sales, technical support, marketing, operations and leadership are brought to life through workshops, exercises, tools and resources.


A website is a managed service provider’s (MSP’s) digital home. There are many incredible things that you and your organization can accomplish with your website—the biggest of which is to differentiate your business from the competition. 

Oddly enough, the first place many MSPs (or most businesses, for that matter) think to go for ideas on how to update a website is the competition’s website.  It can be easy to fall into the trap of looking at competitors’ websites for ideas, improvements and enhancements. However, this approach can limit progress.  Using your competitors as a benchmark or source of ideas kills any hope of differentiation.

Therefore, the Tech Data Cloud team took a look at company websites in many different industries (as long as they were not MSPs), and here are some of the more interesting themes we found:

Storytelling:  Providing insight into your organization can go a long way to build trust with your existing or potential customers.  A story can help companies interested in partnering with your organization understand what type of “tribe” they will be joining based on your progress, hopes and future aspirations.  What better way to land the connection than to build your website around the purpose of your organization.  Little Bits does a fantastic job of communicating their mission in a bold way, empowering the next generation to have creative confidence and curiosity.




Access:  It should be easy for a user to start a partnership with an organization. Unfortunately, this is a piece of website development that often gets overlooked.  Design is often the first thought and functionality the second; as a result, access gets buried behind a sea of well-intentioned content and selling points. Slack puts access front and center with its “Create New Team” button.  The user simply enters their email address and they are off and running with an incredible collaboration platform! Given the trend towards MSPs exploring development of their own IP to support their customers, the ability to provide baseline access to proprietary services can create instant stickiness.



Enlightenment:  By now, you have probably been exposed to at least one TED Talk. While this organization has an amazing collection of videos in its library, what is arguably even more impressive than their content is how easy it is to find it. A user is exposed to more than 50 videos once on the website, which are all organized in a very consumable way. The design of the website fulfills two very different jobs in a way that is cohesive—it allows a visitor to quickly find something specific or easily browse trending topics and top playlists. The result is a learning experience on subjects the user probably didn’t even realize they would be interested in without feeling educational—nice trick!



Anticipation: Nike’s Jordan brand does a fantastic job of teasing new offerings for its tribe, connecting with followers early in the product cycle. Splash graphics invite visitors to the site to “explore” an upcoming offering and the accompanying landing page provides a behind-the-scenes view of design and development.



And I would be remiss if I didn’t include one from Tech Data:

Visual Journey: Tech Data’s new Internet of Things (IoT) business practice, Smart IoT Solutions by Tech Data, has done a great job of building a website that communicates a feeling of “start-up” (within the context of a Fortune 500 company). The website design intentionally uses points of connection to walk the user through a journey as they progress across the main page of the website.  



So break out of your comfort zone by resisting the urge to use your competitors as a benchmark or source of ideas. Instead, find new sources of website design functionality and differentiation!