I work in marketing (I think? Or I did and nobody has told me otherwise) for a Software Company. They provide software to help run IT Companies, or as they seem to be known (in some cases) Managed Service Providers!
Previously, however, I was an IT Guy and formed one of these IT Companies and ran it up to a good size, well liked by its customers and trouble for its competitors.
When I was running my IT Company, what I didn’t do, was read all the blurb sent to me by hardware and software vendors pitching for me to sell their kit. What I did do, was listen to what MY customers wanted to do with their business, then go and research how I could put together something which met their needs.
I only needed to know (roughly) what hardware & software vendors are out there, and what they were good at. Sending, and getting me to read, any more information than that was a waste because I wasn’t listening and I was tossing brochures in the bin before I read them. If I read anything, it was likely to be the odd Distributors Brochure, where I could see a whole range of equipment and what various manufacturers are up to.
I only went looking for vendors when my customers asked me to do something. More often than not I plumbed something like “Network Attached Storage Review” into Google, got the top ranked product and then checked them out on a trusted review site. Perhaps, I’d do some further research on the winner and obtain pricing, etc, then I’d go back to my customer with a proposal.
Over time, I’d built up a ‘rolling’ picture of what fits and what didn’t, what I liked and what I didn’t. And what’s more, once I was happy with something, it took a very good reason for me to change because I’d have invested considerable time in researching, evaluating, learning to use and installing, configuring or integrating the widget.
Here’s the rub… that ‘purchasing behaviour’ applied only when the game was the same as it was the day before. Every now and again, the game changes or is changed. And so it is with ‘Managed Services’.
I like to think of ‘Managed Services’ as a brand-new game, one which really works because it suits both customers and suppliers involved, assuming you can strike an equitable bargain and deliver on that bargain. I think the game theory term for this is a ‘positive sum game’ or in business jargon a ‘win-win’.
And, as I used to say to the guys who worked for me back at the IT company, “think of it like this; you’re actually doing work for your customer’s customers. So in a way, we’re building people’s house, selling cars, delivering healthcare, involved in the judicial system, doing drug research, manufacturing tyres, writing computer games, selling nice furniture and on and on and on”. All socially important stuff, which I liked.
So my note to myself as a guy involved in marketing a tool for something which changes the game for IT Co’s – GFI MAX™ helps IT companies to stop chasing their tails and to gear up for delivering their services in a faster, more efficient and more scalable fashion – for their benefit, their customers benefit, and then the really important bit, for their customer’s customers benefit.
So I feel good about that, it’s much easier to market something that you truly believe is important.