The last year taught marketers a lot. One lesson that really stands out is the importance of community service, and this is no different for managed service providers (MSPs).

As an MSP, our clients are the businesses in our communities and surrounding areas. We must support them as they support us. Not only is supporting our community an act of kindness, but people take note of organizations that step up in challenging times.

What does an MSP supporting their community look like?

Supporting your community can be done in a variety of ways:

Donations. A donation is likely a way of showing support that you are most familiar with. While this one doesn’t involve any planning or doing much on your end, it is more financially driven than other ways of being there for your community. A donation is great when you don’t have time or personnel to take on more responsibilities. Plus, your donation won’t go unnoticed in the age of social media, your MSP is sure to get recognition via a social post from the business you are helping out, or even a story in your local newspaper.

Volunteering. A common form of community service is volunteering. This can be done as a team with your entire staff, or by allowing your staff certain days off throughout the year to volunteer at an organization of their choice. Not only is this great for your community, but your staffs’ morale as well.

Not to mention, employees are your best advocates for your business and effortlessly increasing your organic reach on social media is a marketer’s dream. This can be achieved when employees share pictures of how much they enjoyed their volunteer day, or tell others how awesome the MSP they work for is because it gives them time to volunteer in the community.

Partnerships. Rather than sponsoring an event or volunteering at one, take it a step further by partnering with a local business to host an event. Putting on an event together could spur a new relationship, build trust, and open up doors for a partnership as an MSP and client. While hosting an event is the most involved and time-consuming way to support your community, it an make a lasting impact for months and years down the road.

Sponsorships. If there are any events or sports teams in your area, consider a sponsorship. This is a great way to get your name out in your community whether it be on a banner at the event, your name and logo on some apparel, or being present at an event to interact with attendees. Sponsorships are a low-effort way to gain good publicity for your MSP.

Lending a helping hand. This one is simple yet packs a powerful punch when you can help someone else without expecting anything in return. However, there is still a return. Word of mouth. No marketing is better than a verbal referral from a genuine source. An MSP can lend a helping hand for example, to a local non-profit in their by running an audit of their network security for free, installing equipment for them, offering advice, or helping out with a problem.

The many benefits of community service

One of the many benefits of getting involved with your community, whether it is a donation, volunteer work, or hosting an event with another business, is the increases the awareness of your brand. This is important as many people in your area may be unfamiliar with what your business does, let alone that your business exists.

By completing community service, you have all these new people and potential clients that will become familiar with your MSP. And even if the organization you are supporting is not your target clientele, it still gets people talking, which can lead to them mentioning your services to a business they know in need. Other benefits include:

Establishes trust. Would you enter a partnership with someone you don’t know? The chances are unlikely without getting to know them first and building a relationship. The same is true for consumers buying from a brand, they often go with familiarity. So, getting your MSP’s name out there is the first step as mentioned above with brand awareness. Next is establishing trust and building relationships.

Fortunately, you can initiate a relationship and build trust by being there for your neighbors. Showing you care about those around you and are not just money hungry. Again, if businesses in your community are not doing well, adding on IT expenses are likely to be in the very back of their mind as they are just trying to keep their business afloat.

Further, when you show your support at nearby events, use this time to talk to other business owners, see how they are doing, have a casual conversation without the sales pitch. No spiel or sly sales tactics thrown in, just a neighborly conversation. Now, you are on your way to building a relationship and establishing that trust.

Opens new doors. You never know who you are going to meet at any given time. Or what possibilities an event as simple as a trash pickup day could bring you. It all really goes back to the saying, “You won’t know until you try.”

Say you sponsored a local sports team, and one of the kid’s parents owned a business entering the managed service market. Who do you think they are going to go with? You have a pretty good chance that you’ve got your competition beat on this one simply because your MSP showed interest in something familiar to the potential client.

Community service goes beyond the immediate positive results of your giving and the PR bonus of being recognized by those around you. It fosters a positive feeling of partnership that local businesses will reciprocate with your MSP when looking for IT services to help their business in its daily operations.

Photo: Dmytro Zinkevych / Shutterstock

Monica Gordon

Posted by Monica Gordon

Monica Gordon is the Marketing Specialist at Omega Computer Services (OCS), Michigan’s premier outsourced I.T. provider. OCS specializes in building custom I.T. solutions that align with your business goals, putting you at the heart of everything technology. You can read more from Monica on OCS’s Blog or check out the tech-y podcast she is a part of, The Geek Freaks Podcast.

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