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A Quick Guide For Cloud Companies That Don’t Understand Marketing
A recent small business cloud survey from Microsoft found that about two-thirds of small businesses relied on a single “IT guy” or small IT consulting company to provide them with most or all of their IT advice. As for the owners and decision makers who didn’t? Most of them did their own Internet research.
This is a big problem for small and medium cloud startups. My anecdotal experience has shown that an awful large number of cloud companies aren’t taking the SMB IT channel seriously. As far as I can tell, they think they can make more money going direct. That may be true on a per-sale basis, but it’s definitely not—at least for most companies—in the aggregate.
Additionally, many cloud companies don’t seem to appreciate that most small business decision makers don’t know what “the cloud” really means. When they go online looking for an answer to their software woes, they just want something that works. By focusing on “cloud,” cloud companies risk going unnoticed by all but the most savvy of decision makers.
Here are few more marketing tips cloud companies might want to consider:
- Develop a serious channel program. Pronto. Don’t be stingy with your margins, and be sure to include promotional and informational materials support, as well as any additional marketing support you can spare. Finding the consulting companies that serve the types of businesses you want to target and call them. Explain exactly how partnering with you is going to grow their businesses. And remember: These are seasoned IT guys, so keep it real.
- Participate in online cloud and IT communities. CloudTweaks, of course! But also places like Spiceworks, VarGuy, SMB Nation, and Redmond Channel Pro. Get involved with conversations and comment on relevant stories and blogs. Besides catching the attention of real people, it can help dramatically with pingbacks, backlinks, and your SEO efforts.
- Keep an active blog. Search engines love new content. Plus, having a constant flow of relevant and interesting content greatly enhances the chances of backlinks and climbing up the Google PageRank ladder.
- Look for guest blogging opportunities. The same sites mentioned in #2 (plus many more) often accept guest posts from IT companies. Publishing companies always need content, so research their audiences, put something together, and pitch! The worst they can say is no—and you can still post it on your own company blog.
- Go to shows and events. Even if your can’t afford a booth, going as an attendee is a great way to meet people and make connections. There are a ton of low cost (or even free) IT and cloud events, so take advantage of them. This may be the Web 2.0 era, but you still can’t afford to be antisocial if you want to succeed in the marketplace, electronic or otherwise.
By Robert Shaw
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