From The Editor | September 15, 2011

Marketing Tips From The Trenches

Webinar: Cloud 101

By Gennifer Biggs, security, storage, and managed services editor

A common question from solutions providers is not technology related, but rather about marketing the products they have ID'd for the portfolio. At the Zenith InfoTech Cloud Summit held in Pittsburgh this week, a group of Zenith partners presented tips and tricks for their peers. That presentation happened as part of a partner-driven series of educational talks generated at the event for Zenith partners in attendance.

The presenting partners covered several points, including marketing tools, ways to identify your target audience, best ways to present to customers, tools for presenting to customers, and more. First and foremost, the group warned, you must know what message you want to deliver. That happens during the initial stages of a launching a marketing initiative — the planning stage. During that first step, you're going to want to plan what kind of marketing activities you do, ID your target audience, determine your message, set a budget and your goals, and the figure out your key indicators of success.

Some of the recommended tools or activities for marketing that were suggested by the group included: emails, hosted events, customer referral plans, online advertising, peer networking groups, direct mail, flyers, case studies or testimonials, telemarketing, and blogging.

The group reminded their peers that marketing it more about educating your audience about your entire business offerings rather than talking about a single product. That often means presentations to customers, which can take dozens of different shapes. To help reinforce those educational conversations, the group suggested a handful of materials that may be helpful once you've set a one-on-one meeting: PowerPoint, a list of Top 5 Reasons To Switch, a customer success story to share, a simple pricing sheet that enables you to quickly estimate costs, a product/solution comparison chart, a handful of references willing to share their experience with new customers, and potentially a demo.