This Throwback Thursday article is from the Spring 2014 issue of The Partner Channel Magazine. Catch the most current issue for more great sales, marketing, and leadership tips!
VAR marketing: DIY (do it yourself) or ship it out? That is the question of the day. For everyone with the attention span of a rooster on crack, the Twitter answer is ship it out unless you have a lot of money or can afford to hire Anya C (if you have to ask…retire now).
For everyone else, I think the question is not one of DIY versus shipping it out, but rather this: Can you afford to market your business effectively on the web? Or are you just wasting money like back in the trade show days where you attended just because not being there seemed to be worse than the fact that they generated no business.
The marketing and selling of ERP software has changed dramatically, and it is no longer effective to just have a great telemarketing team filling the sales pipeline like in the good old days (when GP was Great Plains and Fargo was a go-to party destination). Today prospects do not want to be contacted until they are ready to buy, and they want to contact you after researching the marketplace with Bing or other less useful search engines (wink wink). Woe be to you if you do not pop up in the top two or three in the organic search results or have a big ad words budget.
Quiz for bonus points: When does research tell us that most prospects are on the web looking for new accounting software? (Answer somewhere below in a shameless attempt to get you to read the entire article).
In their marketing message to Partners, Microsoft stratifies the Microsoft Dynamics sales into volume and enterprise business. The volume folks have to compete in a market space where buyers visit the NetSuite website and buy without ever looking at any other products. And if they do happen to look for a Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, or Microsoft Dynamics NAV solution, the VAR they had better respond quickly because buyers want instant satisfaction. If the Microsoft Dynamics VAR does make it up to bat, then he or she had better be able to counter the NetSuite messaging that typically has the Microsoft Dynamics product line on its heels and playing defense.
On the flip side, the enterprise VARs have the minor problem of competing against the professional sales teams from tier one ERP companies like SAP and Oracle. That is, when they are not busy bashing each other’s brains out against other Microsoft Dynamics AX VARs and selling value (if you don’t get that one you never called the sales desk).
Regardless of the market space that you compete in, you have to have a great web presence to drive traffic to your site and present comprehensive content that proves that you are a legitimate firm. It is axiomatic that “being on the web and being relevant on the web are two completely different concepts”. For a great example, take a look at my website at www.turnondynamics.com/.
The SEO value of that site is high among friends and relatives, and it drives literally tens of page views a year.
In an environment where marketing on the web is king, and SEO is the key to driving traffic to your site, staying one step ahead of your competitors for search engine rankings can mean the difference between a growing or dying practice. In my own long and distinguished VAR sales and marketing career, I have been at both ends of the web design and maintenance spectrum. As a Partner in a national firm, I recall being on multiple conference calls with Partners from around the country debating the relative merits of various fonts and font sizes. That website cost in the six figures to build and a nice house payment per month to maintain, not to mention the medical cost of removing the fork from my eye that I stuck there to ease the pain of the design calls.
On the flip side, my current website was designed and built by myself using a free web design tool that comes free with my web hosting service. That service is less expensive than a grande latte and was selected primarily through extensive research reviewing Super Bowl ads. Did I mention that I am not a programmer?
Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your point of view regarding the VAR industry in general), I now find myself in a position where I need to get back into the game of being relevant on the web. The question, as posed at the start of this discussion, is how to do that most effectively: do it myself or ship it out? With a little bit of research, the answer is pretty clear to me and driven home by an article that I recently read for the “third year in a row”. Take a look at this graphic: http://venturebeat.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/marketing_technology_jan2014.png.
The Venture Beat article (http://venturebeat.com/2014/01/07/947-companies-in-43-categories-the-increasingly-crowded-marketing-technology-landscape) associated with this graphic states that, “The icon-strewn graphic contains a staggering 947 companies that offer mostly web-based software as a service for marketers — yet another indication of the degree to which technology has consumed the marketing industry.”
The story goes on to say that “this graphic is not comprehensive”. Based on that overview, the amount of time and effort required to effectively use the right toolset and drive traffic to your website looks like a daunting full-time job.
This completely reinforces my thought that the question is not DIY or ship it out, but rather how much can you afford to hire the right people in-house or support you on a fractional basis if you have to ship it out? Either way, you can waste a lot of money by being only “half relevant”. When doing a search, have you ever looked at the second page of search results? I know that I personally don’t even want to scroll down on the first page.
It is a huge challenge on a daily, if not hourly, basis to keep your company in front of potential customers by getting ranked in those top two to three organic search results. Spend nothing or not enough and the results are similar…close but no cigar…which only works in horseshoes and hand grenades.
That’s all for today…I have to go change to a new font on my website. My mom thinks it will really drive traffic!
Bonus quiz question answer: The highest volume of search traffic is Sunday night. Evidently that is when business owners and executives are done with their weekend and are dreading another week with their homegrown DOS accounting software, or perhaps they just settled their latest lawsuit with Platinum and are chomping at the bit for a new and improved system. That desire has them cracking a few cold ones and searching for a better solution.
Peter Joeckel (Pjoeckel@turnondynamics.com) is the president and founder of TurnOnDynamics, a Microsoft Dynamics AX and Microsoft Dynamics GP Partner that specializes in manufacturing implementations and transitioning clients that have outgrown Microsoft Dynamics GP to Microsoft Dynamics AX. Additionally, TurnOnDynamics focuses on the strategic concerns of executives and owners with a unique Dynamic CFO Service offering. Learn more at