Friday, 19 September 2008

Hey Microsoft - SBS Marketing Ideas for us Canucks and others

Most of us small business I.T. shops have a pretty established way of marketing our business:
  1. Reputation: A solution based on our client's industry and redundancy requirements.
  2. Word of Mouth: Our reputation does indeed precede us.
  3. The occasional ad in the local phone books or newspapers.
  4. Online.
For us, the first two and the last are the big ones. Our clients have grown to know us as a resource for the I.T. solution needs. We are not a hardware or software vendor to them. We are an organization that can assess their given business circumstances with an understanding of how their particular industry impacts their I.T. needs.

For us Canucks, the SMB market represents about 97% of all businesses. Yes, 97% of all registered businesses in Canada are SMB! Other countries probably have their economies driven in the same manner.

Okay, so the Cloud will help to some degree with the under 3-5 seat crowd, but there are a lot of perceptions small business owners have about the Cloud and their data that need to be addressed first.

So, that begs the question: Where is Microsoft's marketing strategy for this market segment?

We have seen the ads for Windows with Mr. Gates and Seinfeld which I personally liked. Now, we are beginning to see the "I am PC" ads which may or may not turn people's cranks.

The reality is actually quite simple to us here: Market the SBS product's abilities! For us, it wins the sale virtually every time when we demonstrate SBS' Remote Web Workplace among other SBS features.

Most small business owners have never seen the Remote Web Workplace in action! In fact, many SMB focused I.T. "consultants" do not even know it exists!

Getting a business owner's brain juices flowing will follow a 15 or 30 second spot that shows, repeatedly, a user accessing their various network resources via RWW. Each resource: RDP, SharePoint, Outlook Web Access, and others could be featured in a spot. That would provide an awesome foundation to build out from for further campaigns.

One direction: Windows Mobile 6 integration ... and for us I.T. shops: who needs the headaches of installing the other fruit's Exchange integrated server!

Something to keep in mind when it comes to small business owners: They, like us, wear many hats. ROI may be somewhere up there in the grey matter, but the nuts and bolts of their daily business needs tend to be right before their eyes.

Seen a video of the new Cadillac CTS-V yet? The car is amazing and there are a lot of people just itching to get their hands on one. Why? Because the product just sells itself ... it is unbridled American ingenuity and muscle incorporating elegance all in one package ... and it just hauls! :D

The linked site has a couple of really good CTS-V related videos.

SBS 2008 has the ability to be marketed in the same manner ... the product has so many absolutely kewl features that just rock for the small business owner. Those features, the muscle and ingenuity of the SBS product, would absolutely kill in the marketplace ... if people knew about them!

Secure remote access is one of the killer apps for both the SBS and EBS product line. Prior to EBS, how many of us in small consultancies, or SMB focused I.T. service companies, can remember the, "Holy *insert expletive here*" when demonstrating RWW to our Enterprise employed friends, industry peers, or other I.T. acquaintances?

And finally: Where is the Microsoft Small Business Specialist logo in all of this? Why did we not see a link to finding one in the new SBS Console under the Community Links section? We get the logo if we click through to the Microsoft Small Business Center in the US. But, how many small business owners actually know what the logo means?

An opportunity to tie in MSBS with SBS 2008 is ripe for the picking. Again, marketing MSBS to the masses to make sure they understand that those companies that hold the certification have demonstrated a dedication to SMB I.T. solutions, their clients, and the industry by getting certified.

As far as we can tell, MSBS has been marketed to us Microsoft Partners, but not necessarily to the business folks out there. The MSBS logo near the top right of the MS Small Business Center (US) just does not cut it. Heh ... go to the Canadian SBC and the logo is nowhere to be found. :(

Folks, we are sitting on the CTS-V of server products in SBS/EBS ... and the engine is MSBS ... how about we market them as such?

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

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