Category: , ,  /  May 15th 2014

Cloud services could be the next big thing for small businesses, and for providers. The trouble is, they won’t sell themselves, no matter how compelling the proposition.

So how can you make sure your offering thrives?

Let’s start with the services themselves. By putting a well-curated group of apps together, you’re actually offering people the chance to reboot their business from scratch. That means changing the way they do things, and breaking old habits. No small task. And owners aren’t going to sign up to such a big change, just like that.

First up, you need to understand how the apps answer the needs of those businesses. And translate your findings into a list of highly compelling, relevant benefits that become the basis of all your communications.

Where will you promote this new offering? It’s all about changing behaviour, which means you can’t rely simply on digital channels to get your message across. Have a think about all the ways that you engage with customers: on the phone, in social, by email, online, in branch…

Every one of those touch points is a chance to talk about how these apps can help solve a business’s problems. You won’t have much time, so get to the point quickly. How do you do that? By educating your internal audience and going beyond understanding to the point where they believe in it too. That way they become its biggest fans and want to get customers on board. Each time they have the chance to talk about the service, they’ll know which feature to focus on, and how it will address that business’s needs.

Will you achieve that knowledge and enthusiasm with a single message near launch? No. Your internal and external audience need to be engaged in an ongoing conversation. And in fact many potential apps for your customers are relevant at all points in their business lifecycle. So their promotion is better suited to a business-as-usual approach, rather than single campaign activity.

Keep your cloud service offering front of mind and you’ll see a steady conversion week-on-week, rather than the hero-to-zero rate that campaigns can lead to. After all, the proof of their success is not when customers sign up to these services, but when they start – and keep on – using them.

What does this kind of sales performance require? A significant, ongoing commitment to resource, measurement and management. Your business case needs to look beyond build, launch and campaigns to the ongoing life of the project. For example, you’ll need trainers who’re continually spreading the word and the kind of reports and analytics that’ll help you target your efforts and generate better sales.

In essence, a cloud service package isn’t simply a bolt-on product. And it isn’t something that businesses will buy on a whim. It requires a change in behaviour from you, and your customers. Get that right, and who knows how big the prize will be?


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sabbir ahmed

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