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Maximise Microsoft 365 - Four focus strategies for MSPs and VARs to stand out from the crowd

How do you increase customer happiness and set yourself apart from all the other Managed Service Providers and Value Added Resellers in your area offering the same services such as Microsoft 365 and IT security? Mark Grasmayer, Head of Marketing at Workspace 365 and guest lecturer in digital marketing at several universities explores this question.


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How do you stand out from the crowd? 

It’s important to find out with how many MSPs or VARs you are competing and if these potential rivals have the same focus and brand messaging as your business. Mapping this out will give you a clear idea of your real competitors and how you are – or can be – different and better.  

Don’t forget that customers do their own research, so it is sensible for you to do the same. Search for the challenges or keywords that a typical customer would look for and make sure you understand their wishes and needs. 

Is your brand truly unique? 

Being a Microsoft-certified partner, or being “really personal”, is not the best way to stand out if that is the same branding message coming from competing MSP/VARs. What makes you unique if you are saying the same things as everyone else? Mark’s advice is to make an inventory of what your competitors are doing on their websites and socials to differentiate themselves. The object of the exercise is to find something new and different to say, and not to blend in with the crowd by repeating the same phrases. 


How to stand out: 

  1. Vertical focus. Specialise in a specific vertical such as education or healthcare to become the leader in that field.
  2. Technology focus. Deliver AI solutions or cloud technology and hire experts in this area and have them share knowledge. In this way, you position yourself as an expert.
  3. Solution focus. You should offer Microsoft 365 as a matter of course because chances are that most or all of your customers require this. But you can increase your competitive edge by also delivering expertise in a solution not offered by your competitors, such as SAP services or Service Now.
  4. Mission focus. Our goal is to simplify the day-to-day tasks of people who do important work;  everything we do is aimed at accomplishing that. Defining your mission and aligning your organisation around that mission can make you stand out and will also help you steer product development and finetune your messaging. 
Four focus strategies for Microsoft 365 partners

Create a winning culture

We all like to be unique, but we also want to fit in and surround ourselves with people who inspire us.  

A strong and distinct culture sets you apart. For example, the Dutch e-commerce marketplace Coolblue always creates positive and striking adverts that make the company seem playful. This is reflected in its offices, where rooms are decorated individually, and in its customer service, which sends out personal, handwritten cards.

Impact of the rise of SaaS and Office 365

Software as a Service (SaaS) is rapidly transforming the market. Previously, a lot of MSP/VARs implemented CRM-systems, but nowadays organisations can easily purchase a SaaS subscription or buy in such platforms without necessarily needing help from their MSP/VARs to do that.
What is your added value in this new context? How can you connect all these services, so your customers get the most out of them?

In the blog ‘5 steps to becoming a Modern Service Provider,’ we explain how you can stay in business as an MSP by staying relevant to your customers.


How Dutch MSPs differentiate themselves

Workspace 365 is a hybrid digital workspace for remote and frontline workers. Within Workspace 365 you can bring together current and new technologies for your customers. You can help them with their cloud transition as it’s a cloud-based system that unites all their information, communication, documents, and intranet on one platform.
We’ll now look at how Workspace 365 helps MSP/VARs stand out with a vertical, technology, solution or mission focus, as we discussed above. 


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Most successful MSPs in the Netherlands have a vertical focus

In the Netherlands, we’ve noticed that our most successful MSPs create packaged offerings and link them to their speciality. Some of our partners have a focus on educational institutions and have learned how they can create a workspace for students and teachers. They can do this for healthcare and the government as well.

Most successful MSPs

Stand out from others with a technology focus

Some partners chose to focus on the technology, for example by helping customers move from Remote Desk Protocols to the cloud and bringing together all their technology in one place.

Workspace 365 Technology focus

Become an expert in your field with a solution focus

Other partners focus on implementing Microsoft Teams for their customers. They integrate Workspace 365 in Microsoft Teams to enable customers to have an overview of everything they need to easily communicate with colleagues via Teams. As shown in the image below, Workspace 365 is available as an app in Microsoft Teams:

Workspace 365 Teams

Differentiate yourself with a mission focus

The final focus that make our MSPs successful is the mission focus. Workspace365’s mission is to conquer complexity for frontline workers. The MSPs make sure their customers know that we want to simplify their work by allowing them to do their jobs on any device at any time.

So choose one of these approaches to help you differentiate yourself from other MSP/VARs and give your brand its USP. Be critical, be self-critical, and be aware of your competitors to make sure you really stand out.

Workspace 365 Mobile

Workspace 365 for your customers

We think it’s important to work with MSP/VARs to understand the wishes and needs of their customers and what they expect from their digital workspace. That way, we can work with them to develop the ideal digital workspace for each customer, making it easier for MSP/VARs to satisfy all their customers.


Our goals with Workspace 365 in collaboration with MSP/VARs are:

  • To help organisations understand the IT landscape and how they can keep up with technology;
  • To simplify existing and new software solutions to enable people to work more productively and efficiently;
  • To reduce the amount of time that people spend switching between applications, so they can focus on core tasks.


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