It has been 65 years since Neil Borden mentioned the term, “marketing mix” in his presidential address to the American Marketing Association and since then, the 4Ps – Product, Place, Price, and Promotion – have become a mainstay in any marketer’s handbook as the fundamental building blocks of a successful marketing strategy.
The 4Ps have served B2C marketing well but a new model has been suggested by Harvard Business Review appropriate for B2B services; the SAVE model: Solution, Access, Value, and Education.
Marketing cloud services is very challenging in today’s competitive environment.
For the uninformed, cloud services are any IT service that is operated and accessed on demand globally via the Internet from a cloud computing provider’s servers. Fully managed by a cloud service provider, they are designed to provide easy, scalable access to applications, resources, and services as opposed to being provided from the on-premise servers of a company.
If there is no existing relationship between your organization and primary decision makers and influencers, then winning over the IT buying committee will be extremely difficult. The big cloud service companies forge strong partnerships with their customers once they have boarded onto their preferred cloud platforms.
For B2B marketers, cloud services have unique challenges when it comes to shifting a customer’s approach to using a cloud service. Using the SAVE model, we can ascertain the kind of marketing strategy needed to market your cloud services in order to uptake and maximize ROI.
With the help of a customer-centric approach, evolve your focus from your cloud service features and functions to the needs that it will meet. For this you need to know the following:
Your customer: Analyze your organization’s lines of business to identify the prime prospects for marketing your cloud services and then understand their business needs.
Your brand: Create a unique brand for your cloud services to raise recognition across the company. With the help of your internal creative teams design a powerful cloud brand that will be able to influence customer perception.
Your USP: Identify the qualities in your cloud service that are advantageous to you. They can be cost, compliance, performance, availability, support, customization or bundling options.
Your competition: Leverage industry models and research on how your competitors are unique to truly understand your business landscape.
Cloud computing has grown exponentially due to mounting storage requirements, automatic software updates and the B2B company’s need for limitless access and maximum flexibility. Without making large capital expenditures, cloud computing allows access to a company’s resources.
Storage of data and running applications need not be a strict decision between cloud vs. in-house. Implementing in-house servers to handle standard traffic and using the cloud for additional storage is another method of implementing cloud services in an organization.
This is where the research conducted in the first ‘Solutions’ stage pays off. Armed with the knowledge of your target customer’s needs you will be able to plan a proper marketing strategy that suits that specific customer; a private, public, or hybrid cloud.
Every business knows that it is vital that ROI is calculated before making any new investments. It helps them understand whether they are doing the right thing and if they are doing them in the right way.
Marketing to B2B decision makers involves calculating and showing them the ROI they will earn if they adopt the cloud. For this, you would need to put the cloud solution into perspective for them.
To calculate ROI, calculate their total costs of ownership for an in-house data center in comparison to using your cloud services. This calculation would include:
- Cost of equipment needed
- Projected lifespan of equipment
- Capital cost (How much the company expects to earn if same money is invested elsewhere)
- Estimated operating costs:
- Floor space
- Staff for server management
- Electricity for equipment
- Auxiliary systems like cooling, security, and backup
Apart from monthly bills, there are a lot of other factors that affect the overall cost of moving to the cloud and these needs to be mentioned to the B2B buyer so that they can have a complete picture of what it means to migrate to the cloud.
Cloud services give a B2B organization a lot of elasticity, but only once the company knows how to monitor their cloud costs and keep them under control.
Effective marketing requires great communication. Your B2B marketing plan should be able to define what information needs to be communicated to your target B2B buyer, and when it will be distributed to which potential prospect. Top things to consider when looking at educating your customers:
Vision: The value proposition of your cloud service for the present and the future needs to be articulated to the target B2B buyer.
Channels: Research and learn more about the different channels that influence your customers. The channels would include social media, emails, company events, etc.
Promotion: With the help of press releases, and blogs you can advertise your cloud service expertise across the various B2B organizations in your targeted line of businesses.
Across all enterprise organizations, the cloud continues to be one of the hottest technology themes. B2B companies have started recognizing the amount of improvement brought by migrating their entire infrastructure and data ecosystems to the cloud.
B2B marketers need to approach cloud service marketing in an objective manner. A solid business case needs to be made to help decision makers break free from outdated IT methods without just relying on financial ROI calculations.