Transcends

Set it and (don’t!) forget it: Why cloud marketplaces need marketing

This post was originally published by Fast Company

Let’s say you’re an independent software vendor and you’ve had the innovative foresight to create an evergreen digital footprint in one of the big cloud marketplaces—Microsoft, Google Cloud, or AWS, to name three. Perhaps you worked with a third-party platform such as Tackle to streamline and expedite this complex process, or perhaps your team redirected product roadmaps and invested the dedicated development cycles required for a marketplace launch. Now you have a fully transactable software as a service that your customers can conveniently click and consume. Great work; you showed up to the party. But now what?

SHOWING UP IN MARKETPLACE ISN’T ENOUGH

You want to strut that red carpet, Dior gown flowing, “Partner of the Year” trophy in hand. You want to transform from being available in an online marketplace to being in demand and winning meaningful revenue that digitally innovates your business even in uncertain economic environments. You don’t want to just win a deal; you want to build a new channel with the clouds.

Demand for cloud solutions is resilient, and cloud spend is estimated to surpass $1 trillion by 2025, even as major layoffs are happening across the tech industry. Cloud marketplaces are outpacing cloud growth by nearly three times, Tackle shared in its 2022 State of Cloud Marketplaces report. “In this financial environment where budgets are going to get tight, the place you’re going to find your dollars to close sales… [is in the allocated] cloud budgets that got committed [over the past few years] when the economy was healthy and everybody was betting heavy,” said Tackle’s Chief Cloud Officer Sanjay Mehta in a recent webinar.

BUILDING YOUR CLOUD GO-TO-MARKET FLYWHEEL

If you are new to cloud marketplaces, chances are you’re eager to see a return on your marketplace investment. If you are still building an active marketing strategy to promote your offers and your marketplace-specific pre-sales activities are still settling into the sales process, then you may be seeing co-sell revenue at less than 5% of total revenue. But fear not!

Something I have found to be essential to cloud partnership success is cloud go-to-market, a flywheel for success that, according to the State of Cloud Marketplaces report, encompasses:

  • Data: Leveraging data to identify the right buyers
  • Co-selling: Growing relationships with the cloud providers through an active field sales motion and new functionality with private offers
  • Speed: Accelerating deal closes through marketplace
  • Revenue: Grow total revenue from access to new global markets
  • GTM: Invest in cloud GTM execution (some of my tactical tips are below)

MARKETPLACES NEED MARKETING

As a channel marketing agency, my team works with hundreds of ISVs from high-growth startups to Fortune 500s on their cloud marketplace strategy and promotion. With an estimated $4 billion now transacting through these virtual commerce sites and growing, what tech companies want to know is: How do they actually sell through this channel? And even better, how do they sell at scale?


FOUR TACTICS FOR AN EFFECTIVE CLOUD GO-TO-MARKET

Let’s get into the actionable nitty-gritty with four tried and true tactics:

1. Better together: Have your joint value proposition dialled. Who shops in marketplaces besides your direct customers? The sales teams of big cloud vendors need to hit their ambitious co-sell targets. Have you told an effective story for this resale channel so that the account executive intimately understands the “what’s in it for me” in jointly selling your solution? Have you spelled out the Azure consumption and licensing impact?

A tool I like is the customer value proposition canvas from Strategyzer for persona mapping.

2. The enterprise agreement has innovated—are you eligible? The major cloud vendors know that marketplaces need two parties: buyers and sellers. Both Microsoft and AWS are leveraging the contractual mechanism of an enterprise agreement with their customers to incentivize them to purchase in the marketplace.

At Microsoft, this is referred to as a Microsoft Azure Consumption Commitment (full disclosure: Transcends Marketing is a preferred supplier of marketing services to Microsoft and their partners). If you have a “MACC Eligible” offer in the Microsoft commercial marketplace, customers that have a MACC agreement can retire their committed cloud spend by purchasing your solution. Some rules apply, of course, so get familiar with them. Capture those pre-committed cloud budgets!

3. All hail the mighty email signature. What goes out on every piece of email communication sent from your company and is so benign that its ubiquity renders it forgotten by most marketers? The email signature. Get your marketplace badges on there now using a tool like Letsignit, which will also make email signatures centrally manageable from a single point of contact within your organization. While you’re at it, make sure to include marketplace badges on your website and key pieces of collateral.

4. Marketplaces need marketing—actively generate demand. Once you’ve identified who the right marketplace buyers are (you can do this with a data discovery tool like Tackle Prospect), be proactive in generating marketing qualified leads for your solution. I’m a big fan of an account-based marketing approach, where purpose-built private marketplace offers are the call to action for a flow of social ads, Google remarketing, and email nurture. Pro tip: Market to and with your cloud provider partners too.


WHAT’S COMING IN 2023 WITH CLOUD MARKETPLACES

In the cloud, it’s all up. Budgets are growing steadily and cloud marketplaces have become a new route to market for software sellers with use cases for accessing new global markets and engaging industry-specific customers. With more than a third of sellers reporting that less than 5% of their sales teams have been adequately trained to transact through marketplace, this is just the beginning of cloud sales.


Ashleigh Vogstad is the Founder & CEO of Transcends Marketing.

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