XChange 2016: How A Solution Provider Used Branding To Turn Itself Around

When Jason Wright joined the Techcess Group in 2008, the Houston-based managed service provider had been hit hard by the financial crisis. Ahead of the curve on offering managed services in its region, the company had seen tremendous growth in earlier years, but had recently lost 40 percent of its revenue and was getting beaten out by competitors copying its model.

The problem, Wright realized at the time, was that the company wasn't differentiated in the marketplace.

"It was a pivotal moment early in our branding position, saying, 'We don't differentiate' -- I didn't know what we needed, but we needed something different," Wright said.

[Related: XChange Panel: Strategic Service Provider Model Is Reshaping The Channel Landscape]

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The company decided to take the plunge to revamp its brand, spending $150,000 on a branding consultant, BrandExtract, to help it change the business and differentiate its message in the market.

Techcess pinpointed the issues it faced: the financial crisis, lost clients, increasing competition, the proliferation of social media, an aging brand and website, immature operations, inconsistent financials and a lack of measurement systems to help it improve. It discovered these issues by surveying its clients on where it was missing the mark for meeting their technology needs. From there, the company had a baseline from which to make changes, he said.

One of the major changes Techcess made was its go-to-market model, Wright said. Jonathan Fisher, chairman and founding partner at BrandExtract, helped the company build a more simplified offering -- one, all-inclusive managed services offering, instead of the same three-tiered one offered by the competition. This change was made based on comments from customers that they didn't want to pay for consulting on top of managed services, but would be willing to pay more per seat for an all-in-one approach.

The company also revitalized its brand, shifting its messaging from "we take care of IT" to "leverage IT with confidence." Fisher said this messaging shift was key, as a more strategic message -- rather than a tactical one -- presents a strong value proposition to customers. The company redid its office, painting the new message on the walls.

Techcess also developed what it called a "playbook," which outlined the MSP's strategic value to customers and could provide talking points for salespeople on pain points the customer might have. Wright said this tool allowed the company to focus on identifying and addressing customer needs, rather than just selling a product or service.

In the beginning of this process, Wright estimated that it would take nine months for the company to get a return on its investment and could drive growth as high as 40 percent -- but figured growth would be closer to 25 percent.

The company blew those expectations out of the water and, with 44 percent growth, was named one of Houston's fastest-growing companies. EBITDA went up 24 percent and gross margins went up 55 percent. With its new sales approach, Techcess was also able to raise its price for managed services four times, from $90 per seat to $125 per seat.

Ultimately, that led to the company's acquisition by All Covered in April of last year. The refreshed brand and acceleration in its market were big factors in that success, Wright said.

"We did do some really good strategic things that really helped improve our brand, and position it in the marketplace and sales process," Wright said.