An Interview with Robert Gibbons
In this episode, Richard talks to Robert Gibbons, business development manager of CARA Technology, a Macclesfield based MSP and a leading provider of support solutions to businesses in the North West of England. He explains why personal branding led to new opportunities for him.
Robert is the former partner area lead (or PAL) for the Microsoft Small Business Specialist Community and he’s also the group lead for The Tech Tribe Northwest England peer group.
Social Media Tactics for MSPs
Rob has worked hard in the last few years to build up a social media presence for himself, and uses all the major platforms. He knows that people are often nervous about using video, but you have to be brave and go for it.
“Pre-pandemic, you’d go and pitch to an MD you’d never met before, so what’ the difference between that and being on camera? You can retake a video until you’re happy but you only get one shot to pitch.”
To succeed with LinkedIn, Rob says to be original and be yourself. There’s a lot of information out there, so try to put your own spin on what you read. Don’t just copy and paste tech news – do something with it. Be humorous if you can. And share pictures of yourself instead of stock images.
The Benefits of Personal Branding
Because he’d spent years on social media, Rob was able to build up his personal branding. People got to know him well through his content. Many MSP owners don’t even think about brand. But Rob believes his willingness to be in front of the camera contributed to him being headhunted by CARA Technology.
Rob’s personal branding efforts have benefited him personally and helped the business to win new clients and contracts. “People get to know your style and what you’d be like to work with before they even get in touch.”
Peer Communities and Personal Branding
Robert says that when he started his MSP back in 2006, he was struggling to get help from Microsoft on using the tool. “They were only interested in helping you if you were one of their registered partners.”
He explained that after meeting a couple of local Microsoft Partners, he was introduced to SBSC Northwest, a peer support group. He met people with the same problems, and everyone talked about them openly.
“It was fantastic to know I had these contacts I could ring up and they’d help me. I was introduced to vendors, I learned about marketing, contracts, quoting tools.
“It was like the golden chalice. The community helped me drive the business forward a good couple of years in a very short period.”
Having the opportunity to learn and grow from his peers also helped Rob to develop a clearer personal branding approach, which contributed to his business successes.
Why Robert Cultivates Vendor Relationships
Robert explains that he spends time with vendors so he can get the most out of the products they offer. Most people only use a small percentage of the features in a tool or software. He believes if you pay for something, you should learn how to use it.
“They often have courses, so technicians should do those to learn more. And if you get stuck, a good relationship with a vendor means you can contact them for help.”
Vendors also have access to Marketing and Development Funds (MDF) which MSPs can tap into to help them grow. “Yes, the vendor will want to upsell to you sometimes, but we upsell to our clients too. But on the other hand, they’ll let you know about new releases ahead of everyone else.”
Choosing the Right Tools
MSPs should take time to look at the tools they use in their business and assess if they’re still right. “Imagine you’re setting up a new business. What would you use? Who are the suppliers? Where could you have monthly subscriptions instead of three-year licences?”
Be aware of mergers and acquisitions so you can start to consolidate your tools. Many new companies have come and gone – already been replaced on the market. Identify two or three key vendors who can supply you with the tools you need. You don’t need multiple suppliers, Rob says.
How to Connect with Robert Gibbons
- CARA Technology
- Follow CARA Technology on LinkedIn
- Email Robert
- Connect with Robert on LinkedIn
- Follow Robert on Instagram
- Follow Robert on Twitter
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