Marketing the Business of Tech (CompTIA Volley)
Unknown: Hey everybody, welcome to the latest edition of volley. I'm Carolyn April, and as always looking for my good buddy out there, Seth Robinson, Seth. Hey, how are you doing? I'm doing okay. You, you probably know this already, because I did talk to you. But I'm kind of I'm on the upswing from from a COVID. Case. So that's been a fun way to spend my week. Yeah. And finally found you. It did find me and I don't leave the house
that often. But I've got other people that I think it was brought into your house, it was brought into my home. So yeah, COVID COVID really does spawn a lot of blame gaming. Who gave this to me? gave this to me, who's the germ person in the house? But yeah, it was. I wish it were one and done. So I hope I never get it again. But I'm told from the doctor now that I
should be pretty bulletproof for a while. So that's good to see how long, only silver lining What did he say? How long did he or she said it months. So I shouldn't have to worry. for like three to six months, which is an exam. Eternity. But yeah. So fun, fun, fun. So
well. I'm glad glad you're on your feet. Yeah, I know. It's been a bumpy week. And we had technical difficulties getting this thing started. But here we are, finally made it. So we're good. So we have a guest today. I'm excited because she's a good friend of both of ours and has been for quite some time now. And it's been too long since we've seen each other in person. So we want to welcome a rework. Who is the owner and all
things awesome of white fox marketing, Murray, how you doing? I'm great. It's nice to see you guys. I can't wait to see you in person. I know. Way too long, how are things going for you? Things are good in Idaho and joining four seasons. And you
know, helping people make sense of marketing for their business helping the partners out, it's been a great, it's just been a it's been a great even though we've had this lull, it's really been a great time of focus. So we've seen a lot of MSPs really roll up their sleeves and get into marketing. And that's been great. So I'm really, really excited about this year. Well, that's great news. That's what we want to talk about. And I'd love to hear that I've heard actually for more than one person now that this law is you put it that we've had with with the pandemic. One of the one of the good things about it has been if
there are any good things about it is that it has given people an opportunity to kind of do a gut check with their business, and start thinking strategically about things that they might not have been thinking if they were in, you know, in high growth mode or just really overly busy mode. So they're able to kind of say, Hey, this is something we've been thinking about doing and dusted off in the corner. So that's good news. No, absolutely. And there has been a lot of folks in hyper growth mode, because they had to make, you know, make those changes overnight. But it has given them an opportunity to really understand their value, because they've become the MSPs become the MVP, right? So now they've got this whole value creation in their head, about why am I here? What's my purpose, and they've got to see that purpose play out over the last, you know, two years, you know, and it's been really wonderful for them, I think giving them the confidence to go forward and communicate their brand and be really competent in their differentiation. Yeah, that's good. It's I know, it's changed a lot of things for
the whole ecosystem. So both vendors who have to now deal with, they've got a crop of MSPs, that are all starting to, for the first time in some cases get behind marketing as a strategic thing that they've got to be doing. And traditionally, as you well know, Murray, that a lot of a lot of the marketing might came from the vendors themselves, you know, the assistance, whether that's MDF funding, or just in general MSPs and other solution providers would go to market based on the vendors brand versus their own. And that's all changing now in a cloud world. It's so much more about the brand and reputation
of the of the partner themselves. Which to get back to my original point kind of shakes things up for vendors and how they how do they deal with the marketing benefits that they're trying to provide in the marketing, training and assistance that they want to provide for their customers today? So the vendors have have really taken a partner led approach. You hear that a lot, right? But the actions are now matching up to the narrative. So they're giving the partners the MDF and saying you know you do you you put it down on paper, you tell me how you're going to use this and show me the ROI. So they're freeing up the marketing dollars to spend it where the partner might see the most benefit that could be directly on their brand, doing some refinements to their brand, maybe fixing their website consolidating it down because we don't need these big long drawn out websites anymore. They just had to be this you
know, this is exactly who I am. This is what I'm here to help you do. And so they're giving them flexibilities to do events to do marketing to do brands. To date, you know, to have
different types of talks with their ecosystem to maybe introduce WebEx is so the vendors have become more flexible, and they've been more actionable, they've been getting a lot more action tied to those narratives that they've been putting out there saying partner led, now it matches up, right. And I think the partners that really understand that are gathering the best from all of their vendors aligning their business models, solving for outcomes and going to market together. But it's the partner in front to your point. So now it's the partner brand. And that's, that is different, but it's a beautiful thing. And it's great for the great for the
partners, and it's great for the end user, or the vendors really doing more to help them then other than just changing the way that the funds can be used or tying outcomes. Like I think there are a lot of MSPs out there that want to do marketing, they maybe want to do their own marketing, and advance their own brand. But they don't exactly know how to and I think we'll talk more about that. But just from a vendor perspective, is there more that's happening in terms of giving assistance to their partners? In training them what marketing looks like? Or? Or what types of things they should be doing that would get some some of that investment that they're looking for? The answer is yes, they are definitely doing more, they are expecting more as well, though. So there's a you know, that loyalty factors coming into play a lot here, if we're going to invest in you, we need this mutual success moving forward.
But what they're doing differently is they're giving them portals and access to stuff they can actually brand and use in the field. So before it was very much, you know, a vendor branded asset, and now it's now it's actually we don't even need to be on there necessarily are very small print, they've recognized the importance of the partner being on there, they've also gone out of their way to give them business acumen. So to really help the health of the channel, they're training them in different ways, not just on the technology, the technology is the easy part. Yeah, right. It's all these other elements of the business that may not have been, you know, right there. And foundational into that, you know, executives mind, when he started the company, he might have just started the company, because he was tired of where he was at as an engineer, and decided to jump in there. And so he has all this business acumen
and sales, training and marketing that he needs assistance with. And so the really smart vendors are getting on top of that, and they're giving them more than just the technology. So you said, you know, it's a two way street, though, they're expecting, you know, if we're going to give you these resources, we expect some sort of outcome here a good outcome, hopefully. But metrics for these sorts of things have always been really hard to be really tough for partners to do. And then for then for vendors at the at the level behind them to, to also keep on top of so how do we measure the ROI on all of these different campaigns resource in you know, resources that are being given to partners? And like you said you do you? Well, how do we measure if you do you is bringing anything to the table? Really? Sure. So the partner has to know their numbers out the gate,
right? They have to understand their business to start Where's where's their growth? Where's what's happening in their business? Where do their percentages at today, and then they can show the difference? The hockey stick, if you will, based on the marketing efforts. Now, will that be one to one, maybe not, but one to many? Absolutely. So you've got to have that benchmark start of where my revenues are today, where my profitability is today, where's my lead funnel today, let them know where you're going to go hunt. But also recognize that you have to market to your known your known audience is where the bulk of your new build is likely to come from. And
that's going to give you your accelerators to understand best practices to understand what's working from a marketing standpoint, and then replicate that. So the CompTIA had a great marketing tool kit that I took a look at, it's 96 pages of marketing. So it's a little intimidating. But I went down and drill down and the downloads are great, the content is great. It helps you with the math, it helps you make sense of how to go forward and maybe instruct a marketing person that you bring on staff, because that's also a hurdle for these guys, is they just don't know how to guide the marketing person. They, they
think, Okay, I'm going to do this. But now what do I do with this person? Like, you know, I don't I don't know how to measure their success. And you guys have given them a great toolkit that helps them kind of direct that and understand that kind of Cliff Notes, if you will, and 96 pages, but cliff notes, and it's, it's a great, it's a great download. And I think that's where, again, you have to know your numbers, know your map, know your starting point so that you can measure that hockey stick and again, may not be one to one, but one to many of you saying all these things I'm doing now my revenues are ticking up here and you're not gonna see it overnight. It's an investment that takes many months and won't take moons, but it'll take many months. Yeah, and we'll definitely link to that marketing toolkit in the show notes here. So maybe shifting gears a little bit
marine and focusing more on like the MSP and DT hatching it a little bit from the vendor, I'm interested in how that's evolving, because I think we're moving into a world where like you said at the beginning, the MSP is beginning to realize their value to the client, aside from their attachment to the vendor, and I think that's happening in even in traditional models, you know, where they're just doing, you know, kind of reselling, or standing up, you know, installations and, and then monitoring those things. But then there's also this, this aspect where a technology firm, maybe building some of their own IP, you know, and really adding, you know, value into the solution. So, either way that goes, I mean, are you seeing both of those models out there, where people are still following kind of more of a traditional model, and it's obviously very healthy for them. And then you see some people starting to branch into actually building some of their own stuff. When you're talking about staff, you mean their own assets spend on marketing assets, I'm talking about their own technology solutions, you know, so maybe they're maybe they're writing, you know, some of their own software to do some customization on top of what the vendor might be providing, or, or, you know, whatever their special sauce might be, you know, do they have how many MSPs out there are actually building some special sauce of their own, that they could mark it, and then how many, you know, are just kind of following a traditional model, but could still market themselves as having value in the chain. You know, I don't know that the that that's, that's special ingredients matters, right? I mean, I'm Italian, I make pasta, I use the Prego right to start. And then I add all my stuff on
top of it, right. And I think a lot of MSPs do the same thing. They pick their platform, they pick their ecosystem, and then they layer that service on top of them. And that's what delivers. So instead of as a service, it's with service,
right? You know, it's them adding that value, and they're marketing that value out to the marketplace. And that's where we're seeing a lot of differentiation is these guys who are taking a genuine approach to understanding and listening to their customers, this is what they want, that's what I'm going to market to them, much like you would with any other consumer brand, right? You know, you've got to market to the need, you got to market to the want, and you got to help them solve. And that's what these guys are really good at. And they're really understanding whether or not it's their own IP, which we are seeing a lot of, you know, IP generated, and then they become a vendor themselves, and they sell to their ecosystem, which is great. But we're also seeing a lot of these guys who are taking a best of breed. And they're taking that to market by putting service on top of that, that is clearly differentiated, they've learned how to nurture the customer, they've learned how to take care of their associates, because that's where the experience starts. And so that's really been a beautiful thing. And for them to be able to
market all that together, has done wonders for their business. I mean, we're seeing a lot of high growth and a lot of the communities that we work with, because they've learned they've learned how to crack the code, if you will, they've learned how to master kind of their own domain here on how to go to market, and how to engage and how to grow. They're known as well as go after that pipeline, as well as hunt. I think it's a good segue to get into the deeper discussion of customer experience in general, we talked about that a lot. Cx and it's kind of the big hype acronym of the day. And marketing obviously, is a huge part of that. And it's one of
the things in our our two recent studies, both managed on managed services and state of the channel that partners say is the number one thing they want to focus on in the year ahead is getting their CX down, they want to be good at customer experience, marketing, again, big piece of that, how would you best advise an MSP or solution provider, whatever they happen to do in the partner sphere today, who's looking to, to elevate the the kind of customer experience that they're able to provide from cradle to grave, if you will. So the marketing part of it is probably more in the beginning. But I believe marketing kind of goes through the entire lifecycle as well.
You know, how can they become good at it? So first of what we advise them to do is if they haven't done it yet, ask the question why, why do you do business with me? Why do you work here, understand from the other side's point of view, what your value is, because that's the value you're going to be marketing and taking that throughout the whole conversation taking that throughout the whole lifecycle, like you said, and then letting them do the talking for you use them just like the vendors would use a partner and the partner speaks to the partner, the voice of the partner is much more powerful than the voice of the vendor than the vendor when you want to do recruitment. And testimonials, same is true for your customers. So when you're out there as an MSP and you've got these customers and they send you a great endorsement or they you know button speaking at an event for you just ask make the asset three seconds of courage right to go in there and say, Hey, can I use your quote on our website? Could I use your quote in our marketing assets? Could I take a quick video, you know, can I get you on stream yard and do it do a conversation with you and have this conversation? It's that voice of the customer that's going to bring in the new folks and and it's I mean, it's still word of mouth is 50% So right, you've got all those touch points, that nurturing points there, and they're gonna carry your brand out to market for you. And when they see a problem and one of their friends or a colleague, they're gonna say, Hey, I know a guy, or hey, I got this lady who runs this IT firm, and she's great, you know, they're gonna bring that introduction to you as a result.
Now, just a follow up on that about, it's actually a little bit of a right hand turn on to partner types, because we've seen that changing so dramatically, too. So it used to be we were all in either a reseller bucket, or broader definition solution provider, or an MSP. But today, we hear so much about the ecosystem ecosystem go to one event, and they talk about all of the different flavors of partner today with things like influencers and referral partners, and all of those are beginning to see a lot more prominence in in in our world. And what does marketing look like for that group that isn't actually transactional? Transactional in a way, they're not selling something necessarily. But even from a vendor perspective, you want it you want to harness them those influencers very well, you know, what's marketing mean for them? So I think to back the conversation to where you started with that identity. Yeah, the identity is really what we as as those folks who work with the channel partners want to put on them, a lot of them aren't identifying themselves as an MSP or a VAR, or a solution provider, or an IT pro, that's something that makes it easier for vendors and distributors and influencers to talk about them. But they go out
there as a business partner, though out there as an IT business partner out in the field. So they're out in the wild doing what they do back to the Ubu right conversation, and they may not be identifying themselves as any of those brands. So I think the best practice sticks, regardless of which way right, the fundamentals of marketing, still apply. What's different about marketing today is it's done
with purpose. It's, it's, it's done with sequence, right? It's touchpoints, it's a consistency that we have to have, like, they're still guerilla marketing tactics from big brands are still Super Bowl ads from other guys like that, you know, to push it out into the real world. But we're looking at marketing differently, because we're making it very deliberate, very personal, very much a one to many, you know, aspects, but still feeling one to one, because we have CRM, we've got all these tools that can make us look like we're having these conversations, we've got chatbots now, everything to just kind of be there any way they want to consume the marketing message. So it's really for the partner to start with the
customers figure out what the why with your associates and your you know, your customer base, market that why in a consistent way, it doesn't have to be everywhere, it's just got to be consistently in the right place, at the right time, over and over and over again. So that might be social for you, you know, having a social element, a digital element to this might be really refining your website, looking at your website, making sure that six looking at the cards, looking at your email signatures, simple as that, you know, getting out there in the in the community, you know, putting donations out there looking at how you can help how you can get the brand out there differently. But do it in a way that's going to be consistent, don't do a blitz and then go away. You know, I'd rather see you spend the dollars and use them consistently throughout the year, then just market to an opportunity. Or mark, you know,
instead of just marketing to a budget, you know, market to that business outcome market to that larger goal, look at your company, what do I want to do? And how do I need to get there, and then look where the dollars fall. You're mentioning all the different tools that can be used and the different channels that information might come in through Maria, and it's making me think about all the data that can be collected a lot of what you've been talking about is kind of knowing the right questions to ask, knowing the way to build a campaign knowing you know, maybe some of the the the How to around marketing, but is his data collection and analysis, another skill that a lot of MSPs might need to build up as they're trying to focus on their marketing campaigns. I think we kind of see that maybe not that many MSPs are really tied into like data analytics around their business operations. And I would assume that that kind of ties into their marketing efforts as well. Data definitely plays its part and it's definitely important. And what I what I want to make sure is that we're not telling them to go be a Salesforce, right? We're not telling them there's tools to help them collect that data, right.
There's there's ways for them to come in and learn more about what they're doing. And they can do that through their distribution partners and their vendors as well, because they're seeing data across the landscape. So learn from those benchmarks, ask for those numbers. Understand your business model as it relates the vendors because a lot of these guys may not have the means to get to the data analytics that you're looking at, but they can do simple things in profiling their own customers and their own employees to again really understand Why they do business with them? What's the value? What are your top three services that everybody's consuming? Right? What are the bottom three that nobody's really consuming, and they're tearing probably at your efficiencies, right. So to
get rid of those three, if you can, or outsource those, you know, do something else with that, if that's not where you're making your money, and you're not seeing the value. So it's really kind of looking through those lenses of the data that you can capture quite easily. And then asking an inquiry, you know, asking these guys, you know, why, again, why are you doing business with us the simple things, and then learning from what services they are consuming, you can look at your PSA tools to help you with understanding that, you know, you can look to your vendors again and your Dusties and have them pull that information to you or push that information to you. Marketing, it seems to me is always sort of a combination of going with your gut. And now Moneyball, right, and doing the
analytics and crunching all the numbers and seeing, you know, a combination of those things. What works best. Okay, so we're wrapping up here. So I'm just going to ask you one last question before we go and Marie. So thinking about with, you know, your history in the channel today, and you've been you have been singing the praises of marketing, and how important it is for all this time. What do you think the
channel is at today, with respect to getting their act together? With marketing, I've been around as long as you have. And all I can say the starting point was pretty low. So we had a very low bar in the beginning, are we getting there? Absolutely, we're hedging up, right? You know, I mean, it's, it's always gonna be a process. The thing about marketing is, it's never done, right. And it's never one thing. So you've got, you've got all these different ways that are coming to market differently than they were before. We didn't have social when we started this, right. So now you've got a different means
to market. And because it's free, people are going, Oh, I gotta get in there. I gotta get involved. And and there's, again, there's a deliverance to marketing that we have to step back and say, What's our goal? What do we need to get to that goal, right. And I think that's where we've got a lot of people focusing on their brand, a lot of people showing up differently, really understanding their value propositions, taking those chicken scratches and making them into a great narrative, building out a really nice logo now, right? You know, because we've simplified a lot of that. So where people can use Canva, they can get their marketing collateral to look the part without having to over invest, right? They can build a web page now without having to over invest in that. I mean, when we started this web pages were 60k.
You know, they were crazy that an E commerce capability and you had to add another six figures to that, right? It was just nuts. So we've got a lot of great tools now that people can do this. But before you start, you got to back up, you got to ask, What do I want to accomplish? Like, what am I going for? What's the net of this? What's the net of this effort? And once you have that kind of, you know, guiding principle, if you will, that guiding foundation of where you want to head to, then you start marketing, then you start investing the dollars. But you just you just have to have that plan. Just like Moneyball, right? They look for the right players, they knew in sequence how they had to put all those guys in the game. And it became it became a lot about the dollars, but it came a lot about the energy. Right? What is it
all produced together? Individually, they weren't hitting the mark. But together, they were able to win. And that's what these guys got to look at, you know, what assets do I need to tie to this message that will get me where I want to go? Yeah, I think that's a great place to wrap up. I you know, as you've been talking, Marie, I've been thinking about, as Carol and I have been doing research over the past few years, and especially looking at the technology, the new technologies that are coming in, it seems like a lot of channel firms are asking, you know, how can I grow by adding technology to my portfolio, and then I don't have to change my business model. And I think we've seen that there are a lot of struggles with that when it comes to technology. But I think that you know, Carolyn
for quite a while has been saying that marketing is maybe you know, not the lowest hanging fruit, but maybe the next one up that you will have to invest a little bit. But you don't have to rehaul your sales model and the way you're doing things, you just kind of have to add marketing. And that might be the next best option if you're trying to grow your business, as opposed to bringing in new skill around emerging technology are really transforming a sales model. So there's a lot to consider here. Like I said, we'll link to comp t as
marketing toolkit here. And once again, it was great to see you. It's great to see you guys too. Thank you so much. I hope to see you. When is it August, but I see you next
is that for Gen Con. Yeah, for Gen Con, unless you're going to be at CCF and, in fact, yeah, you know what, I'm not used to events anymore. So I'm, I'm picking up this play like in June, July, August.
You're like no next month. Yeah, no, I think we're all a little rusty. So it'll be good to see you, Marie. Thank you so much for joining though. You too. Thank you guys so much. Hope you feel better. Oh, thanks. Yeah, and thanks to our producer for daily and Van Wagner and Carolyn I will talk to you next time sounds good buddy