The first two articles in this series covered the financial considerations of migrating to a cloud model as well as what channel partners should consider when selling cloud solutions. Part three of the series will address how marketing has changed and identify best practices to maximize the benefits of a good strategy.
What has changed and why won't the current marketing strategy work for a cloud-first model? It's simple. Marketers today distribute more content through more channels than ever before. A good marketer has to make sure its products and solutions stand out in a sea of clutter. To do that, it is important to establish a brand through thought leadership and a strategy that can reach potential customers with targeted messaging that relates specifically to their business need. But most of all, the marketing department needs to understand the larger role it plays in the sales process.
With all the research available on the Internet – reviews, comments, and yes, complaints crisscrossing the social media channels, buyers are more educated and clearly in a position of power. No longer can sales shape the prospect's mind on technology purchases – the customer has already done its homework and might know as much as the sales manager sitting across the table from them.
Changing the Dialogue
"To be successful, first and foremost, marketers have to present a cloud first message. The message must convey that we can do this faster, we can do this better, and we have everything ready to go because the cloud is our focus," said Pierce. "Cloud marketing is about long term relationship building, rather than short-term engagement to drive prospects into a sales cycle. The organization should be promoting the promise of a service going forward, rather than a piece of software delivered, and the support stops there."
Successful solution providers are changing their dialog; they are demonstrating their cloud solutions experience with educational content and thought leadership positioning. They have revamped their value proposition, tactics and the execution of those tactics to reflect a more modern and digital marketing strategy. To accomplish this, marketing needs to have a better understanding of the sales and delivery cycle than ever before. Targeted and educationally-focused messaging reinforces the trust factor necessary for relationship building. In order to accomplish this, the marketing team will need to work closely together with sales and will ultimately play a more comprehensive role than just lead generation.
Pierce added, "Really understanding who your customers and prospects are and positioning your organization as the expert provider is critical and supports the growth of those long-term relationships. It demonstrates that you not only know your cloud business, but more importantly, you know specifically what is important and how it impacts your customer.
The key is to provide something valuable and not just a blanket sales offer. Crafting the right message to the right audience ensures prospects come in to your organization well informed with accurate messaging and the "new" marketing team will be able to hand off higher quality leads than ever before.
Read the rest of the posts in this series: