Do you want to work with a company that cuts corners? Does the fact that they cut corners with their public persona make you wonder how they'll handle your company? Or is it something that can be overlooked?
I come from a competitive intelligence and market analysis background, so I like to know who else is out there in the market, claiming to offer the same services and solutions that Ashton offers. By my most recent count, there are 163 other managed services providers in Northern Ohio, and that doesn't take into account those that don't have websites or an online presence. Almost weekly, I come across another name to add to the list, and that includes today. How many of those are cutting corners when it comes to your network?
Generally speaking, the first thing I do when I come across another peer/competitor is to review their website to determine their service offering, personnel, geography served, etc. In this case, I noticed that the site was built by the same provider who built our current site. They're based in upstate New York, and provide an outstanding service to managed services providers around the country. They will build a site for you, populate it with all of their content, and then offer ongoing marketing solutions (SEO, newsletters, drip marketing, etc.). It's a really great solution, especially for companies that don't have their own marketing people to handle this type of thing. There was a time when we used the canned content for the Ashton site... Then we hired a sales and marketing manager, and the decision was made to create our own content. Again- that solution doesn't make sense for all managed services providers.
The content provided by the web developer is actually pretty good, and it's well optimized for SEO. It's great to have access to the library of content, so as a firm grows and adds new service offerings, one just searches the library for a page on, say, Microsoft Office 365. The content is then copied into the existing site and voila, you're ready to start marketing the new service!
In addition to the service specific offerings, the web developer also offers filler content. Referral program information, blog posts (we actually use that service), industry knowledge, and even letters from the company President. Wait? Canned letters from "the Company President". Yes indeed. Sure, the letter has blanks which are automatically filled in for items like "company name", "area served", "President's name", and "year founded", but everything else is the same. This letter from the company President talks about his 'personal goals', honesty, and loyalty. But it's a form letter used by 354 other managed services providers around the country. 354? Give it a try. Google this block of text and see what happens;
"People ask me, "Aren't you worried about businesses taking advantage of this free service?" I'll admit, it happens, although rarely. Most business owners are honest people who are frustrated with their current IT. They just want someone they can trust to maintain their infrastructure so they can focus on what's really important; driving their business forward."
354 other companies using the same letter from their President, all on a page titled "Our Difference" and using the heading "IT Services Done Differently". Isn't that more than just a little disingenuous? Again, I realize that not all companies have the time or resources to write their own website content, but a letter from the President? Shouldn't that be the real thing? The business in question here has been around since 1995, so clearly they're doing something right. But really, the owner/President can't find 30 minutes to sit down and write a letter introducing himself and telling his visitors why he's in business and how he differs from the competition? If they cut corners on something as simple as this, how are they going to handle your needs, your data, and your security?
In an industry in which everybody has the same basic service offering (security, cloud computing, spam filtering, network monitoring, data backups, etc.) and makes the same claims ("Northeast Ohio's Premier IT Provider", "IT Support Experts", "Proactive Care", etc.), we try to stand out. It's not about the offering... those are all table stakes to be in this industry. It's how the work is done, and who's doing the work. That's what makes Ashton different. We don't cut corners, and we are who we say we are.