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New Continuum Program To Make Marketing Automatic for MSPs

Continuum brought on Mark Zahar last August to make a difference for its MSP partners.

"A number of our partners expressed a critical need for help in marketing and sales to help them scale their business," said Steve Ricketts, vice president of marketing at the Boston-based MSP-solution provider company.

Zahar, who had spent the previous decade helping build an online marketing company called Prospectiv, joined Continuum in August, but he didn't come in with a to-do list. He spent months talking to partners and the SMB customers who buy Continuum partners' services.

"We went out and not only talked to MSPs on how they sell, but we spent a lot of time with SMBs on how they buy SMB services. It was an important part of the process," said Zahar, vice president of channel marketing and community development at Continuum.

In that time Zahar found out a few things about SMB customers. "They don't really understand technology. What these SMBs understand is, 'How do I make sure my technology is running at top speed?' They don't want their customers to have an issue," he said.

At the same time, the MSP partners are pulled in many different directions and usually break a fundamental maxim of marketing, which is a steady stream of effort. "They realize they need to do a lot more around marketing, but they're dealing with mission-critical systems, hiring, employee issues, clients. It doesn't leave them a lot of time to do sales and marketing," Zahar said. "They put one bullet in the gun. They take one shot, and they miss, and they don't do it again."

A lot of vendors provide their channel partners with collateral that those partners can tweak with their own brand. Zahar found that customizable collateral is actually another marketing stumbling block. The requirement to go in and change the materials just puts it in the pile of things that partners, especially some of the lean MSPs that serve the SMB market, don't find time to do.

Continuum's new approach is Marketing Advantage, a program that will launch on April 23. The program requires a brief onboarding process that involves loading a company logo and color scheme into Continuum's system, along with the company's information. Partners also upload their customer and prospect lists into Continuum's database, although Zahar said that information is partitioned and will not be used by Continuum except to send out campaigns on the partner's behalf.

From there, Continuum's system starts sending out information on a regular basis to SMB prospects -- a steady drip of business-relevant information that keeps the partner's name in front of the prospect. "We're talking to an owner of a business about things that are relevant to them. What we're not doing is sending a message around 'Why RMM' or 'Why BDR' or 'Why help desk,'" Zahar said.

Meanwhile, the steady stream of information ensures the partner is top of mind for the customer when their system goes down, which is the time that SMBs "pull the trigger" on MSP-related purchases, Zahar said.

The system also routes inbound information requests and integrates with social media and CRM systems, including Microsoft Dynamics. Continuum is charging partners $500 a month to participate with a six-month commitment. As part of the onboarding process, Continuum works with a telemarketing firm to collect 100 pre-qualified leads on behalf of the MSP to help populate the database.

"The reason that we're doing this is to help our partners scale and grow," Ricketts said.

Posted by Scott Bekker on April 17, 2013 at 11:58 AM


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