Microsoft Aims to Launch Azure Stack by Mid-2017

Dell, HPE and Lenovo will deliver pre-configured Azure Stack integrated systems to help speed implementation of Azure in data centers according to an announcement Tuesday at WPC 2016. Microsoft said it will “prioritize delivering Azure Stack to customers via these systems at launch, which is expected in mid-2017.”


Choose Wisely Channel Partners: What to Consider before Selling Cloud-based Solutions

carlos-roman-8x8Carlos Roman, Head of Global Partner Marketing, 8×8, Inc., gives four key pieces of advice for VARs looking to sell in the cloud.

1)  Stick with your core competency.

2)  Look for profitably and proven results. 

3)  Get third-party validation.

4)  Check—and double check—uptime and service reliability.

SolarWinds CEO Explains Acquisition of LOGICnow

headshotkevinthompsoneditIf CEO Kevin B. Thompson is correct, the newly formed SolarWinds MSP will offer the most complete range of IT solutions in the managed services provider (MSP) space.

The new firm is the product of last week’s announced merger between SolarWinds N-able and LOGICnow, creating a services management vendor with more channel partners than all of their top competitors, combined.

Open Letter From ConnectWise to Kaseya

connectwise-logoConnectWise Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer Adam Slutskin calls on Kaseya to tone down rhetoric over the firms’ PSA solutions for the greater good of the IT service provider community.

Upload Email Lists For Google Search, Gmail, YouTube Ad Targeting

google-logo-blue-slant-1920-800x450Google is taking a page from Facebook’s playbook with “Customer Match”, a new feature that allows you to target ads to specific audiences. For example, you could create an Adwords (or any google property) ad offering special discount pricing to current customers of Product A if they upgrade this month.

Another way to look at it is an additional channel to hit your audience with your offer, e.g. email your list inviting them to a live event as well as targeting an Adwords campaign to the same list!

Google is on the cusp of rolling out an anticipated and in-demand product feature in AdWords: the ability to upload and target audiences built from advertiser email lists.

Customer Match will let advertisers bid and create ads tailored to customer segments in search as well as with YouTube Trueview ads and Gmail ads.

Advertisers will be able to upload email lists manually or through the API to AdWords. Emails are matched against Google sign-in emails and anonymized.

Read more: Search Engine Land: Google Announces Customer Match: Upload Email Lists For Search, Gmail, YouTube Ad Targeting

How Content Transforms Salespeople Into Superheroes [Infographic]

social-selling-superheroThere’s no question that the buying process starts online—most likely with Google. Even when your sales team is engaged, a prospect expects and plans to learn more at their own pace (on your website).

There are so many things in this infographic that are exactly on point that I feel obligated to point them out!

So here they are from top to bottom:

  1. Majority of buyers will do most of their research online before contacting you—Absolutely TRUE… except maybe for some early baby boomers.
  2. Buyers choose the first sales rep to add significant value—In the 10+ years I spent selling IT solutions to hundreds of companies I recognized this truth years ago. In fact, I coined my own phrase for my VAR sales team in the early 2000’s, “The first to make the proper diagnosis will be the one to sell the cure.”
  3. The fact is, people make purchasing decisions emotionally and early in the buying process. Don’t try to change or fight this core human drive. Instead, work with it, be a sheppard, enable it with educating content.
  4. Social media now plays a huge roll in B2B sales. Mostly in the form of trusted recommendations and customer feedback. In the IT solutions biz, this means LinkedIn mostly. However, there’s zero reason not to participate on Facebook, Twitter and more—even if you’re just sharing your website blog posts and listening for conversations.
  5. In my view, marketing is the vendor and sales is the customer. It’s unfathomable that a vendor would create solutions for their customers without communicating and collaborating together.
  6. I think it’s safe to say that A.B.C has been replaced with T.A.C (trust, authority, credibility), although it would break Alec Baldwin’s heart!
  7. I’m dying to know if you caught the above reference. Comment and let me know!!

Read More →

What Does a California Roll Have in Common With Managed Services?

sushiThis: People don’t want something truly new, they want the familiar done differently.

The California Roll is a great example of something familiar done differently.

And as a result provided a gateway to traditional Japanese sushi to westerners who were once terrified (and likely disgusted) by the idea of eating raw fish. Now, we can’t stop gobbling it up!

“When people face a behavior that is not routine, then they may not find it simple. In seeking simplicity, people will often stick to their routine, like buying gas at the same station, even if it costs more money or time than other options,” says  BJ Fogg of Stanford’s Persuasive Technology Lab.

Read More →

A Warning to VARs and MSPs About Cloud

cloud_brokerIf you’re a VAR or MSP and you haven’t crossed the chasm to offering cloud services to your customers, the future of your business is in jeopardy—period.

[It’s] bad news for traditional value-added resellers (VARs) and managed services providers (MSPs) that are not transitioning to a cloud-centric world. Observers say they’ll see a significant loss in business if they don’t change their models soon.

Just like voice and data brokers caused revolution, so will the cloud brokers, and for the same reasons.

The cloud services brokerage market will reach $160 billion by 2018, Gartner estimates.

In the hardware world, it was about making sure systems were installed correctly and functioning. In the cloud world, if a customer buys 1,000 licenses for Salesforce, brokers monitor and track those licenses to ensure that at least 90% of the 1,000 are being used, for example.

Reference: Search Cloud Provider | Cloud brokerage: Are cloud brokers ‘tomorrow’s system integrators’?

Audience Targeting: The Keyword Is Still The Undefeated Champ

The keyword that one searches on (whether on an external search engine or within the search function of your website) is a direct window into the intent of that consumer’s online behavior at that time.

In fact, even the way different consumers search for the same content or page can reveal a lot about their current intent and state of mind. The keyword data trigger is at the heart of why paid search marketing has worked so well and dominated digital marketing budgets for more than a decade.

EVERY online marketing program must include keyword research—period. That is, figure out the most popular and relevant search terms your target audience (prospects) are using. There are many paid and free tools, but you should always start with (or at least include) The Google AdWords Keyword Planner

Case in point, a recent customer example

Just yesterday one of our customers reeled in a brand new lead because someone had searched for a term related to email / exchange email encryption and they found exactly what they were looking for:

The prospect then completed a contact form using our marketing automation system, Rainmaker and voila!


Reference: Search Engine Land: 7 Audience Targeting Data Types Versus Search Data (The Keyword Is Still The Undefeated Champ)

Your Best WordPress E-commerce Option Just Got Better!

woocommerceWooCommerce, the most popular (and our favorite) e-commerce plugin for WordPress has been acquired by Automattic, the company behind as well as major contributions to the self-hosted open source version, which we use as a platform for much of our development (including this website).

We think WooCommerce is the best e-commerce choice for WordPress, period.

However… WordPress is not always your best choice for e-commerce.

The entire 55-person Woo team will join Automattic. According to a blog post by CEO and cofounder Matt Mullenweg, this will bring Automattic’s total headcount to 370 people, distributed across 43 countries.

This is awesome news because it means long-term support and investment for one of Wordpress’ weakest points, e-commerce, as well as stronger positioning against the Squarespaces and Wixes of the world.

Can you tell we’re fans of WordPress and its flexible platform?? 😉 Read More →