You’ve engaged with a partner to offer new services, now what?
Sit back and reap the rewards? Not quite that simple, although that is a part of what to expect. Any partnership requires care and nurture. That typically means a program and continual feedback loop of service delivery and service improvement. Hopefully, you have already identified your target market and marketing strategy for rolling out the new service, or your partner is helping you to do that. Ideally, a Program Manager heads a small team to develop the operational model, to oversee the partnership and provide the oversight management. Processes need to be defined outlining how both parties interact. Which party will interact with the customer in a pre-sales, post-sales, and delivery environment? Who has the final say when there is a conflict? Is there a fixed agreement on pricing or will each of the efforts be handled independently? Who will develop the Statement of Work or is there a predefined contract that will be used to cover all services to the end client? When the service is ready to morph, how is the adjustment handled? Many of these will be discussed in advance of the agreement, but the odds are the details will not all be worked out, unless both parties are very familiar with this type of engagement. The great answer is that because the service is likely delivered to multiple customers and you have implemented a continual improvement process, any mistake made with one client doesn’t have to impact every subsequent customer.
From a company who has implemented a number of branded professional services, here are a few suggestions: Agree what the breakout of profits will be in advance of moving forward with any contract, even if your customer is demanding it quickly. If it costs your company money, you may just want to introduce your customer to a “trusted partner”. Because the white label company is the most familiar with the service, they will likely be needed to help with the sales process and develop the SoW by editing customer level idiosyncrasies. Take the lead from the white label provider as they should know their marketplace: how to adjust services, development of market-based pricing, add additional services, etc.
As business closes, who will handle the project management of the service delivery? Whether it is short term or long term, someone must engage with the client as the Project Manager and your company should be the one handling project management (or potentially program management depending on the depth of the engagement). This allows you to retain a foothold with the client, ensure your company is being represented appropriately, and identify additional areas of support your customer may need, further enabling the sales process.
What to do in terms of marketing?
Typically, if you have engaged in a branded professional services agreement, you have already identified the need for the service. Now, how do you get to a marketplace that isn’t aware that you offer this service, and develop a go-to-market strategy if you are already there? Often times, companies such as Nike work 12-18 months out from the launch of a new shoe or a new shirt. Odds are you have a couple of weeks or a month at most. So, where to start? There should be internal communications about the new offering. Sales people need to be aware before the customer asks so there needs to be a basic training module/PPT delivered via a webinar. No one has to be an expert, they just need to be aware of the basics. The experts are the white label company you have partnered with (and the more they know about your internal processes, the better everyone will be) and your Project Manager. With this training should be developed some form of collateral, both internal and external. The internal collateral will define who the target market is, the buzz words, and scenarios to listen for with some basic processes to engage pre-sales support and potentially an order process, or at least where to go to find one. The external collateral will be used by the sales teams to provide clients with information about the service and should include case studies, service description, and options with additional information available on documented web pages.
There are technical tools which can be used to create additional interest in, and recognition of, the new service offering. Some of those tools are used to initiate a lead generation effort using email. The tools will enable you to send emails to multiple addresses with complete tracking of the recipient’s interaction; did they open it, click on a link, or simply delete it? Other tools include purchasing advertising space on various search engines ensuring that potential clients who actually express an interest in that service are shown your offering. A very effective method is also to optimize the company website and specifically the web pages related to the new offering, using search engine optimization or SEO. By optimizing the service web page(s), the search engines will be more likely to showcase the product on the first page of the search results, which is where the best results are obtained.
Are white label / branded professional services always beneficial? Is partnering always a good idea?
While branded professional services are a great way to deliver services outside the core business of the company, they are not for everyone. Instead of relying on an unknown partner, companies may decide to take on the responsibility and deliver new services themselves. However, companies need to ask themselves whether they have the bandwidth to manage this kind of project and execute on all the areas that are tied into a new offering?
By not creating the service organically and outsourcing it to a Branded Professional Service Provider, the chance of your company ever creating and delivering the service themselves becomes unlikely and you, therefore, don’t recognize all of the revenue benefits of the offering.
If the answers to the above are that you have the right partner, and the need for the service to build out your portfolio, and that you have no intention of building out the service organically, then branded professional services could be the right answer for you to keep your customers happy, retain their business, and grow your business/revenue.
How your company could benefit from White Label Services?
Many companies spend the majority of their time and resources in providing outstanding service and value to their core portfolio. If a company is in telecommunications, they are focused on data transport, TV, internet access and often all three. If they are a wireless company, they are providing great cellular service or tower buildings or Wi-Fi engineering, etc.
But does your company strive to meet all of your customer’s needs?
What is your company’s reaction if they learn what else customers are looking for in terms of service? What happens when the client wants a service the company has neither the desire nor the ability to deliver?
Although it may not be possible or of strategic value to be the client’s one-stop-shop, there is an opportunity to benefit from additional revenue by exploring White Label Services. Why miss out on further strengthening the customer relationship and reinforcing your company’s value to the client? By not offering some of the additional services that fall in line with the client’s needs and the company’s business, the client will be forced to look elsewhere. The act of looking elsewhere could lead to a competitor offering the client services your business used to cater for and eventually, this could displace your company entirely.
Using White Label Services provides a company with the option to not have to create a service from scratch, which would take time, capital, and focus away from the company’s core offerings. Instead of potentially splitting management focus, using a partner to provide services means managers can keep their focus where it is needed while benefiting from a smooth and fast roll-out of new services. Using a partner with experience in providing these new and complementary services would also remove the needed to invest in further development. Since investment in research and development will already have taken place, this saves the company time and money while benefiting from the partner’s valuable technical support, its skilled experts, and its experience in delivering to the customer’s expectations.
Partners providing White Label Services often offer:
- Tried-and-tested products and services
- Continuously developed and improved products and services
- Fully supported with technical expertise
- Additional support with marketing material and administrative documentation
What is a White Label Service?
A White Label Service is simply explained as, “the offering of a product or service by a primary provider, which is delivered by a third party,” such as Mercury Z. (Mercury Z also refers to White Label Services as Branded Professional Services)
As part of any White Label solution, it is up to the company as to how much the end customer knows who is delivering the service. The arrangement made by the white label provider and the company can be to the point where the provider is completely in the background, or where the customer knows the company is working with a third-party for support, or full disclosure where the customer is completely aware of the relationship.
Why choose a White Label Services provider?
There are many benefits to the company of using a White Label provider to offer additional services to its customers. Working with a partner to develop or deliver additional white label services includes:
- Reduced costs (or none) of development
- Learning new skill sets and market knowledge
- Keeping focus on core offerings
- Adding value to the customer
- Revenue from a new source
A White Label partner is often smaller, more nimble, and/or has a different core focus than the primary company. If the company would like to deliver Security Services, but their core offering is around networks, they won’t already have security experts. Some might argue that they need to build the offering themselves, but the go-to-market process for an in-house offering, often due to red tape and budgets, would likely be months if not over a year. In addition, the service offering is already a proven commodity to the provider, with existing staff, who have the technical experience and the marketing knowledge to deliver effectively.
When a service is in demand from a company’s clients, using a white label offering can be the best way to resolve the gap in a company’s portfolio. By using white label, the company quickly resolves this gap, maintains the close client relationship and adds a valuable solution to other clients in the market.
‘White Label’ is an industry term as defined above, which describes a solution being provided by a 3rd party. Mercury Z has differentiated itself from the market place by providing Branded Professional Services. Mercury Z doesn’t simply create an offering and deliver it to partners, we deliver a complete white label solution. Mercury Z’s comprehensive solution in this instance incorporates the product itself, the training of the partner’s employees on the product, the value-add of the product, the marketing material to support the sale, and a unique mechanism for implementing the solution, as well as sample deliverables – anything the company would need to deliver a complete Branded Professional Service offering.