Sr. Director, Marketing
We’ve been highlighting different industries in the Subscription Economy in our Zuora blog over the past few weeks and sharing insights from companies on topics such as the benefits of recurring revenue models, keys to growth and how they stay competitive.
This week we profile cloud storage and related services, which are on the rise. Approximately half of all businesses today have adopted cloud services, driven by benefits of scalable deployment, offsite disaster recovery and cost reduction, according to research highlighted by eWeek, Forbes and others in the past year.
Yet, in an extremely competitive market, how do emerging and mid-sized cloud providers compete with the “big dogs” that already seem to dominate the market? Here is some advice from leaders at several different companies on how they stay competitive and thrive.
Build Customer Relationships
People don’t want just another product, they want to know someone has their back. Building lasting customer relationships is one of the benefits of a subscription model.
Jennifer Walzer, CEO of the cloud service BUMI (Backup My Info), explains how getting to know clients and build sustainable relationships with them helps her company stay on top: We invest the time to get to know every one of our clients, their tech environment and challenges. This enables us to know how to best protect each client, and then obsess over them daily to make sure they (and their backup and recovery operations) are always in good hands.
While this kind of personal attention may take some extra time, it is worth the effort to provide the best customer service and keep clients happy.
Differentiate With Valued Services
Dmitry Davydov is the Chief Marketing Officer of the burgeoning cloud-based collaboration provider, Bitrix24.com, created specifically for mid-sized companies, of which they have over 100,000 signed up to date. Because of the competition from big name storage companies such as Mozy or Google, Davydov points out that simply offering lower prices is not enough.
If you compete based on the storage price, you will lose. This is why Bitrix24 users get not just file storage, but document management, video conferencing, group chat and other features that make collaboration easy. Cloud + tools is a lot better than just cloud.
Offering valued tools and services will sweeten the deal for customers who want something that is simple and convenient.
While service differentiation is critical, price is still an important factor. When shopping for cloud storage, companies want to get the best service for their budget.
Greg Goelz, CEO of Cloudbyte, has over 25 years experience in building and managing storage technology organizations. He shares how Cloudbyte is winning at obtaining and keeping customers.
Cloud storage providers cannot only provide services with more and different functionality than big dog service providers, but also deliver it more cost-effectively than even Amazon. Also, channel partners are taking advantage of our software-based approach, which gives them the flexibility and cost benefits they need to build private cloud environments for their enterprise customers.
A sure way to win in a competitive marketplace, is to offer a unique and differentiated service together with a price that will turn heads and grow your customer and subscriber base.
Keep it Simple
Another good way to attract smaller and emerging customers is to avoid confusing them with overly complicated features that may be targeted for larger enterprise customers.
One company, SoftNAS, decided to create a simple version of their program specifically for small home businesses. Founding and managing partner of SoftNAS Rick Braddy describes why SoftNAS Essentials works.
Many customers find they don’t need all the enterprise-grade features — like cross-site mirroring, replication, failover, or continuous data protection — available in SoftNAS Professional but they still appreciate SoftNAS’ core features and simple administration interface. With SoftNAS Essentials, IT now has an affordable option available to meet rapidly growing storage demands while staying within or below budget.
By offering a simplified version of their software, this company ensures that businesses will get just what they are looking for, and can easily upgrade as they grow.
Security is Peace of Mind
Security is still one of the leading concerns for buyers of cloud services. With all the talk of the NSA and a growing danger of identity theft, security when storing online information is crucial.
Ben Ow, president and chief creative officer at StoAmigo explains how their cloud storage CloudLocker keeps clients data safe.
In light of all the NSA spying and scandals, CloudLocker gives you peace of mind knowing that only you have access to and control of your digital media. Think of it like having a Dropbox or Google Drive server on your premises and completely under your control. You don’t have to worry about engineers or administrators having access to it and being able to look at your files (even if their policy prohibits them from doing so) because they’re not stored on the public cloud.
A sense of privacy and will give customers a peace of mind that is priceless.
Flexible and Reliable Billing System
HOSTING Vice President of Finance and Business Operations, Rick Moore, explains how switching from their rigid, outdated system to Zuora’s enterprise-proven platform that’s purpose built for subscription and recurring revenue management changed everything for his company.
We’re moving to a world where you need to be more flexible with how you price, bill and collect. We’ve been able to leverage the flexible usage model capabilities that Zuora has. We’re not in the billing business. I don’t want our engineers doing that. I want our engineers working on new products and services.
An important part of staying competitive with pricing and delivering great service to your customers is having a flexible and reliable billing system that lets you focus on your core business.
A Winning Formula
Quality can win over size in the cloud storage services market. Offering differentiated and competitively priced services, great customer service, all built on a secure and reliable platform, are sure ways to compete and win. What do you think? Please share your thoughts with us.