Generally speaking, managed service providers are less dependent on IT vendors than traditional VARs, according to Larry Kesslin, president of 4 Profit, a consulting firm to channel companies. Kesslin shared the observation during Cisco Velocity, a marketing summit for about 200 Cisco partners this week in Miami.

While traditional VARs depend heavily on market development funds and other vendor-sponsored programs, MSPs typically push more aggressively to develop their own brands and to articulate the value of their services. That's a healthy trend, according to Kesslin.

Sure, VARs should have an ongoing dialog with their vendors. But that doesn't mean the vendor's brand should eclipse your own brand, notes Kesslin.

During a workshop at the event, Kesslin also shared the 10 top reasons solutions providers don't invest in marketing. It's an interesting read that will surely benefit MSPs as well.