In this new episode of our MSP Growth Talk Show we interviewed Carrie Reber, Technology Marketing & Content Leader for SolarWinds. Carrie's expertise is focused in raising company profiles and and establishing industry presence to accelerate customer acquisition and support revenue growth.
1:30 - 3:02
Carrie: so my career in marketing has been almost entirely in software that are used by IT departments, infrastructure software. A few years ago I joined Condado, there I really learned about the Managed Service Providers part of the market, it was really a great thing to learn about, because I understood that there are a lot people with IT expertise who want to go into bussines for themselves, so this is a great way for them to get something that makes their life better, and I’m hoping small businesses that really can’t afford in-house IT person.
I think that’s why it’s grown so much, they are really filling a market need and, where I am today is SolarWinds and I’m specifically Product Marketing Manager for SolarWinds BackUp, which is a backup and data protection service that SolarWinds offers thats specifically geared towards Managed Service Providers it's a multi-tenant management console, it's all web-based, the data is all stored in the cloud, so it’s really lightweight, nice, easy to use solution, it also integrates in the SolarWinds remote monitoring management platform so it's a sweet MSP product the one that I work on this backup.
Because of that you know I'm interested in MSP's, in helping them out, and understanding what they need. I love talking to our customers, and almost every time I talk with one of our MSPs customers they mention that sales and marketing is a real challenge for them, that's part of why I reached out to you, Derek, on LinkedIn, because I think you are really feeling a need that people have.
3:03 - 3:52
Derek: yeah, we hope so, that's the idea. As you know I have this marketing and sales background, and I’m still getting my mind around all the different vendors and partners MSPs can have in technology, so I wonder if, in addition to the other points you’re gonna mention, if you could talk at some point of what you do for SolarWinds in marketing specifically, because of this crowded nature of technology in space I find it confusing sometimes myself you know... Which MSP's working with which backup and what not? I think that would be an interesting component of some of your comments here.
3:53 - 4:38
Carrie: yeah definitely, definitely so actually we take our own advice and so the things I wanna recommend here for MSPs to consider are definitely things we do ourselves.
The first most basic thing, they need to understand who they’re own target customer is. You know, understand their sweetspot, if there is a particular vertical industry that they know well, or a particular type of service that they’re really well suited to offer, or a particular company size that best fits their capabilities and their aspirations. Some MSPs really all they wanna do is provide a job for themselves and they'll be happy with that, others have aspirations to grow, hire a team and really build a business. I think they need to first start by understanding their own goals and what kind of customers they want to serve.
4:39 - 7:43
Derek: absolutely, that’s exactly how we always talk to MSPs, starting with "how many net new accounts or clients contracts, MRRS you want to close for the year?" We start there, before we get into marketing or anything like that we wanna know where you wanna go?
Carrie: yeah yeah , and so you know I always think about sales as if it's about relationships. My husband actually is in sales as well, and he always says "people buy from people they like" and I think that’s very true specially in small businesses where they’re hiring someone they rely on so much for their IT environment and for protection of their data, they wanna have someone who they trust and that they like, so it's definitely a long-term relationship.
I see marketing as the introduction, marketing is the way that you get introduced and then, you take the relationship from there, this is kind of how I think of it.
You know a lot of people think "I have to draw these customers to me" and I find it more effective to go where they already are and offer them something of value.
I know you talked a lot about the power of inbound marketing and being there when they’re doing Google searches, I absolutely agree with that but, I would even take it another step further and say you should also go where your customers are in the actual physical world. That can sound intimidating, especially you know some IT people are not the most extroverted and they may not be super comfortable walking into a room full of people and trying to network.
So good way to do that, is to look at where your perspective customers are in terms of community organization, maybe it’s a chamber of commerce for your area, your suburb, or your town, maybe it’s a rotary club, maybe it’s some other service organization that a lot of small business owners are members of, and if you would go to that organization and offer to be a guest speaker -specifically on the topic of ransomware, that’s the one I recommend and it serves a lot of purposes- you know your are helping them with their need to have a guest speaker and it’s a topic that small business owners are a little bit nervous about because they all read in the headlines about ransonware, and businesses been you know stucked back on paper and pencil when their computer system goes down you know. So, if I am a small business owner I would love that IT expertise, that’s pretty scary prospect, so they’re going to want to hear about it. So if you go to this event and you give a little presentation, you give them some tips may be a leave-behind sheet, you've provided something of value and you’re actually helping them and, at the same time you are instantly the expert on this topic and now as they all already have a little bit of trust in you, they’re more likely come up to you afterwards and say "Hey, I’m looking for some help with my computers, do you think I can talk to you?", and even if they don’t do that, you could follow up with them and say "Hey, it was a pleasure seeing you at last night's chamber of commerce meeting. Here are five more tips". I think that’s a really nice warm introduction.
Derek: yeah absolutely, it makes a lot of sense. There’s so many other aspects of security that could be brought to a talk, is there some reason why ransomware? You feel like that, just because of the news recently? Or are there other reasons you are thinking that should be like the one topic to bring to an organization?
8:09 - 8:38
Carrie: two reasons actually, the news headlines is definitely one that is an easy thing to find. Every time I’m doing a presentation I look for headlines that I wanna show as examples, I never have trouble finding them, they are always there.
The other reason is, I’m taking my own advice, the product I'm trying to market is a data protection product, so if I get people talking about ransomware that leads more naturally to backup, so that’s part of the reason I like talking about that topic.
8:38 - 10:04
Derek: yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I've thought about these two you know, with my client in Connecticut, he's already a member of a chamber of commerce, and he has some clients who are in the manufacturing industry, so we’ve talked to the folks at the chamber to see if Tom can head over there to do a talk, but it’s been kind of hard to get. Unfortunately harder than we thought, I’m not sure if they are overwhelmed at the moment, but we'll keep pushing that button. I think that’s a good opportunity.
We are so overwhelmed, with email marketing and all the digital stuff that it’s kind of refreshing that someone comes in, face to face, to say "look this is the deal, this is what you need to watch out for, this is how to do it..."
9:31 - 10:04
Carrie: it’s part of the relationship building, absolutely yeah... and then you can follow up, I mean with inbound, with an email you can follow up, keep providing helpful tips, adding value in small pieces during that overtime. Because even if they’re not ready to buy today if you stay top-of-mind eventually they’re probably going to work with someone, and you don’t want to be forgotten, you want them to remember you fondly, and say "Oh yeah! That person was really helpful to me, they've given me some good tips. I think I’m gonna call them first", that’s exactly where you wanna be.
10:06 - 10:24
Derek: right, right, I love that I think we need to go back to the in person, old school kind of mentality in some situations because there's not as much of that happening it’s just like the low-hanging fruit. We’re working with businesses that are neighbors, so that makes a lot of sense.
10:24 - 10:52
Carrie: absolutely, that’s actually you know at SolarWinds, we have a customer success center where we post different resources for our customers. I’m literally working for next week, on a presentation and a takeaway all about ransomware, that we’re going to have on our customer success center so people can use it as a starting point, and tailor it, and customize it, and you know be ready to go without having to spend quite as much time getting ready for it.
10:53 - 11:50
Derek: oh yeah! Is that something that will be out for the public on you website, or do you need to be a client to access customer success center?
Carrie: it is a customer success center but you know, maybe we can work something out.
Derek: that would be great, that would be great
Carrie: I have to finish it first, I'm still working on it.
Derek: ok, yeah.
Carrie: but yeah, I think that’s a good way, thinking about your customers mind-set, what do they care about? what are they afraid of? what might intimidate them about computers? And then offer to help.
Derek: fantastic! Fantastic! Carrie is the anything else? I mean I think that’s a great tip for everyone to absorb, go with that system make a list of all those organizations that are around you, give them a call before you invest a ton of time in making an email campaign, sometimes a call is kind of the best thing.
Carrie: absolutely! or going to a meeting!
11:53 - 13:00
Carrie: years ago a when I wanted to work for a company, I saw that the president of the company was speaking at a local conference, and I just turned up, and went to his presentation and listened to it and walked up to him afterwards and gave him my resume. It was one of the five things I did that got me the job.
Derek: I feel like, you know, marketing is seems like is something that’s complicated because there’s so much technology and there’s so much to know, and so dynamic and changing but at the end of the day it’s a people’s business getting out there and connecting with people, and it doesn't happen enough, so I love this.
Carrie: people are uncomfortable doing that you know, just thinking how you’re adding value you’re giving them something tips, you are giving them information. You’re helping them, and you can think of it that way it's easier to push yourself forward and go do it!
13:00 - 13: 49
Derek: Are there any other points you want to add before we close the show?
Carrie: the only other thing I would suggest is, you know MSP I’m sure they don't forget about the customers they already have because they’re taking care of them every day, but if they can add more services over time to the customers they already have... that’s another way to grow their business, so again, you know selfishly talking about backup, maybe they start out just keeping servers running, or managing email or something like that, if they add data protection as a service then they better serve their customers and, they’re making more money. It’s just good for everyone so in addition to getting new customers, think about how you can grow and mature the customers you already have.