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Defining a Cloud Marketing Strategy? Here Are Some Tips
There’s no doubt that you need a good cloud marketing strategy if you plan to sell cloud services to your clients successfully.
The cloud services market is becoming quite saturated nowadays, with even the more traditional IT service providers waking up to the benefits of selling (or reselling) cloud services, particularly in relation to the ongoing commission streams that the latter can provide.
Here are five tips to help you define your cloud marketing strategy:
1. Find a niche
The cloud services marketplace is a busy one. And every cloud service provider is competing with both small independent providers, and big names like Microsoft, complete with their huge marketing budgets .
As such, the best strategy is to find yourself a niche. What exactly are you providing? Are you specializing in particular cloud services or looking to market an “all in one” solution? Whatever you do, try to find a unique selling point of some kind to help you stand out from the pack.
2. Decide on your target market
You won’t conduct your cloud marketing effectively if you don’t know who you are marketing to! So, you need a specific objective.
The nature of cloud services means you can market them to anyone, anywhere, but this doesn’t mean that a “scattergun” marketing effort will win you results. You need to define your target market , perhaps by focusing on a vertical market, or simply by concentrating your efforts on offering personal service to businesses in your local area.
3. Highlight cost benefits
Cloud services are almost always sold on a subscription-based, “as a service” model, which usually gives you the ability to advertise a temptingly low “from” price. However, smart business people are also wise to the total cost of ownership (TCO), so do your math and make sure that your cloud services really do offer cost benefits over “on-premise” systems when worked out over a sensible timescale.
4. Choose your initial marketing methods
The key part of defining your marketing strategy is ascertaining what marketing methods you’re going to use. You can always experiment and change things as you go along, but you must decide what to do first, and what to spend your initial marketing budget on. Give this the time and thought it deserves.
5. Be ready to address objections
Not everyone is convinced that cloud services are the way forward. Some people are still traditional in their technical thinking and need convincing.
It makes sense to pre-empt some of these objections and have good answers ready. You could perhaps even build an FAQ section on your company website that addresses these objections in advance. These days, people will want strong reassurances about privacy and data security. If you give them these before they even ask for them, you will already be one step ahead.
And if you want to level up on your marketing strategy for cloud SaaS and IaaS, be sure to enroll now in our free 7-day eCourse: Go-to-Market Strategy 101 for B2B SaaS Startups and Scaleups .
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What Is a Cloud Go-To-Market Strategy?
- 1. What Is a Go-To-Market Strategy?
- 2. Best Go-To-Market Channels
- 3. How to Create a Go-To-Market Strategy: 8 Step Framework
- 4. B2B Go-To-Market Strategy
- 5. B2C Go-To-Market Strategy
- 6. Building a Go-To-Market Team
- 7. Go-To-Market Tools & Software
- 8. Go-To-Market Strategy for Startups
- 9. Most Important Go-To-Market Metrics
- 10. FAQ
- 11. Glossary
Designing a winning go-to-market strategy is essential for an organization that operates in a dynamic marketplace like cloud services.
As demand for cloud services continues to explode, companies are seeking inventive ways to stand out in an increasingly competitive market.
Crafting an innovative cloud go-to-market strategy is critical to attracting customers, building relationships, and growing revenues. Let’s find out how to create a successful cloud go-to-market strategy.
Cloud go-to-market strategy definition
Cloud refers to a business model in which companies run applications, services, or software on the internet. A cloud go-to-market strategy is an organized plan to deliver a company's cloud services to its target audience.
By deploying a cloud GTM strategy, organizations can deliver their unique value proposition, service their customers, and achieve revenue goals.
Tips for creating an effective cloud go-to-market strategy
Consider these tips and best practices to create a successful cloud go-to-market strategy for your company.
Build continuous customer relationships
Having a project mindset will not work in today's highly competitive marketplace. It is important to be a strategic business partner for your prospective clients to achieve a sustainable business model.
Companies may offer the full life cycle of cloud services through value-added capabilities, productized offerings, or including managed services in their overall portfolio.
Highlight unique technical capabilities
Showcasing the on-demand solution capability of a cloud provider over traditional on-premises versions will not help launch your solution.
Companies also need to demonstrate how they can create seamless online experiences to serve small and medium businesses. Think beyond implementation support to deliver personalized and value-driven digital experiences for your customers.
Get the hiring right to demonstrate domain expertise
Address client challenges by closely reviewing their market dynamics and industry-specific needs.
Get the right professionals on board to support clients’ needs and position them as vertical market experts and cloud solution providers.
Continue online engagement methods
With the onset of COVID-19, the world moved from physical to virtual. The field of customer engagement was no different.
Virtual engagement is the new normal for many decision-makers. To gain their attention, cloud companies will need to set up marketing campaigns, tweak their positioning, and optimize resources to boost their performance.
Grow multi-cloud capabilities
The number of cloud service providers has proliferated to create a buyer's market. As competition grows, gaining customer attention is becoming more challenging.
Setting up business partnerships can be instrumental in increasing growth opportunities. Differentiate your company by adding value to your prospective client’s multi-cloud atmosphere. It demonstrates that you are invested in its success and its customers’ success.
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Although cloud computing depends on ever-evolving technology, it is a revolutionary operational model that is changing the way information technology (IT) is managed and delivered.
Despite that disruption, companies are beginning to see the benefits—or, at least, trying to plan for the inevitable transition to the cloud—which is, essentially, a metaphor for the Internet.
Successfully marketing the cloud requires understanding the nature of this new technology and taking new approaches to communicating its benefits to prospects.
The fast growth of cloud computing is causing organizations to seriously consider what it could mean for their business. They are trying to understand the cloud model and how it could affect their company, customers, vendors, and service providers.
Cloud Computing: What's the Big Deal?
Everyone loves the idea of the cloud. Imagine this utility model: You pay only for what you use; data, platforms, and IT systems are situated offsite; and system management is handled by someone else—ready to be tapped into, as needed. The cloud model is liberating: Companies can now focus on their core business strengths and differentiation.
In addition, the economic model means the cloud is here to stay. A recent study found that the cost savings of cloud infrastructure relative to midsize companies is better than a factor of seven across hardware, facilities, and personnel. Such clear financial incentives mean that everyone has to reconcile with the cloud-based IT future and figure out how to best harness its capability.
Even at this early stage of cloud adoption, the enterprise will change as the business, revenue, and service models of almost every player in the IT delivery chain adjusts. As cloud marketers, we must explain the landscape of change, and the opportunities presented, so customers can see the benefits and move beyond the fear of the unknown.
The Disruptive Cloud
The cloud is not a new technology; it is a new operational model. The enabling technologies are myriad, but the practicality of the cloud hinges on technology that abstracts the user from the actual hardware, and from the access layer that manages the security, availability, administration, and workflows of cloud resources. This new operational model changes the way IT organizations deliver services to every tier of their business and their supply and value chains.
The primary response to this kind of disruptive model is, in a word, fear. As IT marketers, we need to confront and transform the fears of the stakeholders. People have a standard operating procedure (SOP) that allows their business and career to thrive. If you want to enable your clients to change that SOP, you have to communicate how the cloud will enhance both career paths and pocketbooks.
The Challenges of Marketing the Cloud
Allaying the fear of new business disruptions is the overriding challenge of marketing the cloud. That fear affects everyone up and down the management ladder. Executives have to worry about the strategic balance between cost benefits versus control, service, and security. Personnel within the organization, especially IT, may feel threatened by the paradigm shift that could remove their raison d’être within their companies. And that's not to say anything about how the cloud model can affect relationships with partners, vendors, and customers.
The number-one concern for businesses, however, is security. Owners and IT managers worry about ceding their data and transactions to an outside service. It's an obvious human reaction to be concerned when you're not in direct control of your most valuable, differentiable, and competitive assets—your data.
Articulating the Value
Although security concerns remain prevalent among IT managers, uneasiness about the disruption of longstanding business models plagues each level of the channel—including OEMs, SIs, VARs, and ISVs. All players in the IT world, from manufacturers, to vendors, administrators, and users, should be asking themselves: What am I doing to adapt to this new services-delivery model?
The value that marketers can bring to the cloud ecosystem is clarity and conciseness about the benefits provided to each business role in the organization, from end user all the way to CIO.
Among those benefits are the following.
1. Lower Total Cost of Ownership
As service providers typically charge on a per-use basis (much like an energy utility), customers pay only for what they use. In addition, implementation costs are greatly reduced at scale.
Vendors' compute resources provide access to a level of scalability previously unavailable to many end users, particularly smaller players that experience usage spikes. Such elasticity combines with utility pricing to give smaller players opportunities to play in businesses where they couldn't even enter the game previously. 3. Easy Access
The cloud is available wherever users can get online, offering great flexibility in how they access and use their resources.
4. Offloading IT
Without the worry of maintaining hardware investments, upgrading software releases, and storing large amounts of data onsite, organizations that use the cloud can focus on their core competencies, aiding the differentiation of their businesses.
5. Communicating the Cloud to Your Prospects
The leading responses to the disruptive operations model of the cloud (as with every business-oriented technological advancement) are these:
- I don't get it.
- I get the idea, but I don't know what to do next.
- I get it, and I have a plan to move ahead.
The challenge of the first answer lies in having to help prospects "get" cloud computing as a necessary first step. As the cloud moves into the mainstream, overall understanding of the structure and benefits of cloud computing will become more prevalent. As a cloud vendor, you have an interest in providing educational information to inform and accelerate prospects' acceptance.
The second response is typical of many Fortune 1000 companies. For those marketing the cloud, these companies are "low-hanging fruit," ready to learn what the cloud can do for them. This is where the competitive opportunity is most attractive.
The third answer is where we find the forward-thinking companies that have been looking into the cloud for some time and are ready to move forward with testing or adoption. This environment is very competitive, and reaching your prospects requires clearly demonstrating the value of, and differentiating, your cloud capabilities.
* * * There is no cookie-cutter model to solve the algorithm of marketing cloud solutions. At this adolescent phase of the cloud, we need to address the uneasiness and uncertainty surrounding it.
No matter what the game looks like two, five, or ten years out, marketers now need to describe the value of the cloud to every level of industry and transform their customers' fear of the cloud into peace of mind. And the way to do that is to assure them that they are making the best possible strategic decisions for their business.
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7 Steps for Success With Your Cloud Go-To-Market Strategy
In the early days of the cloud, companies could easily hook customers ready to try it by simply offering them access. However, i n today’s maturing cloud market, providing cloud access is no t e nough of a competitive advantage for companies to sustain or grow their market share.
A fully realized go-to-market strategy is pivotal to capturing market share, building partnerships, and sustaining revenue. Whether you entered the cloud game early and want to remain competitive or your company is putting together its first cloud program, you will benefit from taking a client and partner-centered approach with your cloud go-to-market strategy.
How the economics of cloud sales affects your go-to-market strategy
When considering your cloud program’s go-to-market strategy, remember that cloud offers a different revenue strategy than traditional software sales. Under traditional software sales, a customer buys a software license for one hundred employees at a set price per user and receives the software they need to run their business, while the cloud provider receive s the dollar amount for the sale.
With cloud, companies often start new contracts at a loss, then recoup expenses months after converting a client. On average, i t takes nine to ten months for a cloud contract to become profitable for the provider. Yet , once the cloud contract reaches profitability, it can offer you exponentially more revenue than a single product sale.
With an effective cloud go-to-market strategy, partner relationships must focus on the longtail payoff rather than the transactional sale. This mindset s hift is easily comprehendible , yet challenging to implement with partners.
With a compound annual growth rate of 24 % , the cloud market is projected to be worth $ 411 billion by the end of 2020 . According to the State of the Cloud Report 20 20 , the cloud industry is expected to grow over several decades , and the COVID-19 outbreak will potentially driv e a significant increase in public cloud spending.
Your 7 s teps for s uccess
To create a robust cloud offering, cement partnerships, and garner market share , you must have an effective strategy. To find success in today’s maturing cloud market, we recommend the following 7-step go-to-market strategy.
Clarify your cloud strategy
Determine the partner relationship structure , analyze the ecosystem and identify potential partnerships .
- Create a cloud offering
Pilot your cloud program
- Launch official cloud program
Evaluate the program and adjust the partnership
Accordin g to our research, l ate adopters and enthusiastic clients , who are eager to upgrade services , are expected to make up 85% of cloud demand. As late adopters flock to the cloud or scale up, they will exhibit different needs. At this stage of market maturity, you will gain stability by identifying the market you can best serve, then clarifying your cloud strategy to best suit the market’s needs.
When you r approach ha s clarity , you can target the right customers and guide your partners accordingly. Your program will not be able to meet everyone’s needs , but by focusing on a clear strategy, you can market to the right customers and find your niche.
When identifying a cloud partner, it is critical to define your objectives and strategy at the outset. This will allow your company to identify the right partners for deployment. Keep in mind the long -term opportunities for profitability when developing your cloud strategy. For instance, cloud programs typically have a higher sales and marketing cost compared to other products , and the cost to acquire a client is often front-loaded .
When clients come on board, they may start small and scale over time. In a partnership model, this adds up to several to u chpoints that require more service over time. Acknowledging this at the outset will allow you to develop a strategy t o best support your partners and clients through the extended transition. A mindful cloud strategy can also help you get to the payoff point sooner by ensuring clients have positive partner experiences .
One common mistake with cloud go-to-market execution is failing to understand the inherent needs of partner relationships, which differ fundamentally in a cloud deployment. In the cloud environment, sometimes partners should work together fluidly to continually ensure needs are met. Yet too often, companies wind up treating cloud partners the way they would treat those in an on-premise relationship, companies and partners are misaligned, not accounting for the differences and causing frustration.
You have several options for monetizing the cloud offering that not only increases profits , but accurately meets evolving partner n eeds :
- Resell : In a resell model, partners take a referral fee for each sale. These partners may find it less appealing to earn a smaller payout for reselling a cloud service , as compared to the larger cut of a licensing fee. However, the resell model can still work with cloud.
- Sell-thru : In a sell-thru approach, cloud partners retain ownership of relationships and billing while selling your service.
- Upsell : In the upsell approach, cloud partners grow the sale through complimentary services. Since upsell ing provides a way to offset customer churn, some see it as a more reliable way to structure cloud partnerships.
Any of these monetizing strategies can work for a successful cloud partnership, so determine the right relationship struc ture for your enterprise needs upfront and build consensus before continuing with your cloud go-to-market strategy.
Once you know the type of partnership you want to target, you can start identifying potential partners. Partners all have their own value-add and business model s , so some may naturally align better with your objectives. Knowing ahead of time wh ich relationship model you can offer will help you select the strongest potential partners for a mutually beneficial relationship.
Once you clarif y your strategy and determine the relationship structure of your partnerships, you can move forward with partner s election . This stage often represents winnowing down your existing partners to determine which players will deliver the most value with cl oud sales . In some cases, none of your existing partners may be the right players for this initiative.
The 5 Cs method provides a useful lens for your analysis of partners : contribution, consumption, coverage, capability, and commitment . E xamining these different attributes will help create a well-rounded partnership network to support your program.
Spur Reply has written extensively on the 5 Cs:
- Contribution : C ontribution assesses not only revenue, but the frequency, reach, and yield of sales. More frequent sales indicate a partner prioritizes you, while occasional sales suggest opportunistic transactions. Remember, with cloud as a scalable solution, avoid focusing on big-ticket sales, rather the scope of adoption. Therefore, the frequency may be more important than yield.
- Consumption : Consumption determines how effective the partner is at driving customer adoption and usage. If contribution represents revenue, then consumption is the increase in the average customer’s lifetime value through affiliation with the product or service.
- Coverage : Coverage examines the reach and impact of your partners in a market. With cloud go-to-marke t, you should identify partners that offer early exposure in the market segments where you wish to grow ( for instance , geographically ) or in a particular niche.
- Capability : Capabilities capture the knowledge and effectiveness of a partner . Once you understand the role you want a partner to play, you can look for areas where they can naturally assume this role. This assessment is more subjective than assessing contribution.
- Commitment : Commitment evaluates the loyalty of a partner in terms of how many of their deals to include your offerings. Since cloud is a relatively new offering, the level of commitment matters less than usual.
Frequently, only a handful of partners make the transition , so it’s crucial to quickly identify the ones who are most likely to move forward with your cloud offering. T he t ime you spend working through the 5 Cs now will pay off in the future with a reusable matrix for assess ing partner performance and strategy refinement .
C reate a cloud offering
A robust cloud offering has four components: t raining, monetization, incentives, and benefits. These components help your partners find their footing, provide motivation, and reward success and loyalty. T h ey play a significant role in partner retention.
Training ensures your technical and sales staff can meet customer needs and solve problems, even as their roles change. Training for sales staff should focus on a user experience perspective, so staff can answer questions about the cloud and allay customer concerns. From a technical standpoint, training should also focus on shifting partner roles , which may move away from a technical integration toward something broader.
Monetization thresholds encourage partners to promote the cloud offering and provide goals. Remember, for cloud offerings, the size of the deal matters less than the scope and potential for scaling, so thresholds do not need to be particularly high to be effective.
Incentives spur sales, reward desired behaviors, and keep your partners motivated. They should always be part of your cloud go-to-market strategy. You may offer incentives for new customers, market share, or depth of cloud consumption.
Along with incentives, benefits keep your cloud partners engaged over the long haul through deepen ed relationships.
The best program launches come from tested and refined pilot approaches. Before la u nch ing your cloud program, understand the challenges in the field and those affecting your partners, as well as the best practices that will lead to effective growth.
Familiarity with partner challenges allows you to solve problems and build trust before launch, which can bolster loyalty and sales right away . If you do not take the time to identify field support challenges, you will struggle to overcome market share, momentum, and scale issues. Finally, the pilot phase will help you develop ideal cloud partner profiles — th e partnerships that have a greater chance of success.
Launch official cloud program
Even when it is anticipated, moving to the cloud can be challenging for vendors and partners. As with any business shift, the process can be riddled with anxiety about change and immediate revenue loss as you focus on long-term growth.
Customer service is also essential for success. In the old model, a partner might sell a software license and move on to the next customer without providing ongoing customer support . With cloud services, ongoing customer success is essential for satisfaction and building long-term relationships (and long-term revenue).
To launch with the least amount of anxiety and difficulty, focus on getting your partner enablement activities to get the field ready for this change. Before launch, ensure everyone is trained on the new systems, products, and policies. Clear communication channels that focus on pathways to success and strategies to support clients will help all parties thrive through the cloud shift. When you provide your partners with the tools to keep clients happy, everybody wins.
After the launch, continue to monitor and adjust the program. A strong cloud program evolves as market and client needs change to continually deliver the best service.
At a minimum, use partner performance to see where your strategy needs improvement and which partners are performing well so you can reward them. Then adjust incentives and training to alleviate any gaps and keep partners striving. This will help your cloud partner program grow effectively, further increasing your market share.
Let your go-to-market strategy set you apart
Spur Reply believe s fit is key to strong partner relationships and performance, especially with cloud strategies. We developed a proven framework for identifying partnerships using the 5 Cs and a 7-step philosophy for cloud partnership improvement. Our experience demonstrates the most effective cloud providers do not necessarily have a product advantage. What sets them apart is their go-to-market strategy, which includes a mutually beneficial, robust partnership program . Y ou can position yourself for successful growth and meaningful partnerships that mature as your cloud program does.
5 Steps to Future-Proof Your Go-to Market Strategy for Cloud Services
Here’s a number to think about: $1 trillion. That’s the amount of IT spending Gartner says the shift to the cloud will disrupt by 2020. Whether you’re launching your first cloud solution or expanding an existing cloud services portfolio, it’s vital that you nail down your go-to market (GTM) strategy well before the planned rollout. A GTM plan acts as your road map for taking a (small) bite out of the huge cloud services market.
Now, there are tons of resources on how to build an effective go-to market strategy for cloud services, so we won’t be looking into that in this post. Instead, today’s entry talks about a simple 5-step process you can apply to make your GTM plan robust enough to withstand any road bumps you encounter along the way.
Step 1: Make sure you’re looking at a trend, not just a blip.
A go-to market strategy often starts by identifying relevant business drivers. Business drivers are the underlying reasons for developing and launching your new solution. These include revenue goals, customer interests, industry developments–or practically anything that answers why you’re building and selling the product.
You want business drivers that result from long-term trends, not random blips. For example, if you’re rolling out back-end SaaS solutions , the related drivers should include generating recurrent revenue based on your core business as well as sustained demand, not just because you want to keep up with your competitor. Learn from these 5 Lessons From Epic Tech Flops That Will Make You Better At B2B Sales .
Step 2: Know the best target customer for your solution.
Some sources consider a GTM plan as a subsection of a marketing plan. GTM strategies apply to specific products or services, while marketing plans apply to the entire business. It is best to identify the key decision makers for lead generation .
That’s why a good go-to market strategy for cloud services requires you to be more specific about your target users. You want to define what qualities make up the best fit for your solution. Different customer segments oftentimes have widely diverse cloud services adoption and spending rates. Sales and marketing resources should reach only the best opportunities.
Connect with your potential clients. Learn how Callbox Multi-Channel Marketing Strategy can be of help.
Step 3: Go beyond just keeping a close eye on the competition.
Christina DesMarais has an excellent Inc.com article on staying ahead of the competition. The main idea behind the post is that monitoring competitors form only the tip of the competitor research iceberg.
Just because a competitor launches a new solution doesn’t mean you should, too. Instead, she argues, you should proactively seek out the business value behind your competitor’s decisions. How does the new product affect your competitor’s revenues, customer base, profitability, or market share?
Step 4: Gauge your technology partner’s true capabilities.
A 2016 Innotas survey finds that cloud projects have at least a 50% chance of fail ure . While it’s hard to lay the blame on any single factor, one of the reasons why cloud projects fail is that the provider’s technology partner is unable to deliver the needed requirements. As one source puts it, it’s the supporting ecosystem that’s oftentimes behind why cloud projects fail and not the product itself.
The two main qualities in a technology partner that you should look for are integration and flexibility. This helps ensure that the cloud services solution you’re about to launch runs as expected.
Related: How to Clinch that Million-Dollar Sale in the Software Industry
Step 5: Leave room for instinct and gut feeling.
A good go-to market strategy sets the metrics for measuring success, but a future-proof GTM plan leaves ample room for gut instincts as well. As with marketing, not all decisions you make need to be based on data. Some situations call for falling back on your experience and intuition.
For instance, it can be difficult to find the right metrics to quantify something as abstract as the quality of user experience your cloud app delivers. You can track end-user experience with benchmarks like response times, throughput, and invocation time. But you still need to rely on your intuition to get a handle on how everything falls into place.
A future-proof go-to market strategy for cloud services can help you weather the ever-present changes in cloud computing. Don’t just plan for the future, let the future drive your plan.
Related: Cloudy with a Chance of Fog: A Quick Cloud Computing Update
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