It was only matter of time before some of the “big boys” who traditionally serve Tier I clients started discovering the opportunity SMBs represent. Communications services provider Comcast, which has an established $2 billion managed services business for companies with 20 or fewer employees, is now focusing attention on slightly larger SMBs with 250 t0 500 employees.

ZDNet reports Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis told attendees at a recent investment conference that his company will provide managed services such as Ethernet and voice systems to SMBs of this size, with a potential market size he estimates at $10 billion or more.

Comcast does not operate in a vacuum, and undoubtedly other large service providers will also decide they would not mind pursuing SMB customers for a potential multibillion dollar payoff. So what can MSPs who already specialize in the SMB market do to protect their turf? Here are a few suggestions.

Remind SMBs You Know Them

Large service providers offer many amenities that smaller MSPs cannot match, but one area where smaller MSPs have an untouchable advantage is personalized service. A big company like Comcast simply does not have time to devote to getting to know the ins and outs of an SMB when Tier I clients are demanding undivided attention.

Remind SMBs you know them through actions as well as words – make personalized recommendations for service improvements based on your daily observations and interactions, or even throw in a small free upgrade because you noticed it was needed. These thoughtful actions will go a long way when one of the Big Boys comes knocking on their door.

Stay on the Ball

SMBs will not realistically expect a small provider to offer as many bells and whistles as a multibillion dollar company like Comcast, but if a small provider is significantly behind the current trends in managed services, it will be a major reason to switch. If you aren’t already, make sure you are up to date with the latest developments in areas such as mobile technology and cloud computing so you can at least compete on the same general playing field.

Work Harder

A small provider can simply outwork a larger competitor. Despite vastly smaller staff and resources, a small provider also has far fewer distractions, especially compared to a company like Comcast that has so many different sides to its business. Be ready to put in the extra effort to prove you are more valuable than the Big Boys. Bigger is not always better, and 2012 will be the year for MSPs who specialize in the SMB market to prove it.