I attended the Parallels Summit last week. http://www.parallels.com/summit/2012/ (For background please see below under “original post”. ) It was fantastic! Below are marketing insights that you, as a small business can take away and apply TODAY!
- Put your best foot forward: I started this post giving you a background of the summit-facts & figures. I stopped and started over. Why? Because, I was reminded at the summit that you have to start with the best part first. The part that your customers want most. The organizers of the event did this by having the first keynote delivered by Guy Kawasaki. It was BRILLIANT! Guy is an expert at marketing to SMBs and that is what that audience cared about. He is an excellent speaker and his presentation was a home run. Why is starting with the best so effective? Because you immediately engage your audience (customers). It shows you care about helping solve their problems and their needs. It shows that you understand them and share their worldview–their values and beliefs. This is very important because it sets the tone for the rest of your interactions with them. You as a small business have the power to be in control of how you are perceived by your customers and the market. A lot of small businesses give this power away without even realizing it. By having an industry expert and legend open the summit, the company set a positive tone and made a great impression on the audience (their customers).
- Make a variety of friends: The leadership team at Parallels has always been great at creating partnerships and making friends. Early on, Sergeui Beloussov (now the company’s Executive Chairman) had the foresight to have a diverse set of companies become partners. Sergeui is a visionary and was able to understand that it takes a village to grow a company. In other words, if you want your company to grow, you need to create a diverse ecosystem with varied resources. At the summit, Parallels continued to promote this philosophy by giving participants the opportunity to meet each other and network. This is crucial for a small business. I am a small business myself and I went to the summit to find partners–I took every opportunity at the summit to network. The result: I found partners. Parallels is also providing tools for their partners and customers to extend their own ecosystems through their APS program (details in original post.)
- Get social NOW: It still blows me away to think that small businesses are not using social media. The conversation is already happening—join the conversation! Parallels has done this incredibly well and has a great social media guru(s) handling @parallelscloud twitter account. The person/people handling the account interacted with me months before the event even started and encouraged me to attend. They engaged me and kept the conversation alive. They were responsive but most importantly, they were authentic. That is what social media is about. It brings your brand to life. It makes your company accessible and more “human”. Your customers are humans and want to connect with your company/brand on that level. @parallelscloud also monitored the hashtag #parallelscloud and was extremely responsive. The activity on the hashtag showed that people were engaged and actively discussing the event. I used the hashtag to monitor attendees. If I saw a company that was interesting and fit my partner profile, I started a conversation. Small businesses today need to use all the tools available to start and continue conversations. Oh yeah, remember the partners I told you I met earlier in the post? Guess how I first reached out to them? That’s right, twitter.
Original Post: Background, facts & figures
Last week, I attended Parallels Summit 2012, a conference aimed at helping service providers (such as hosting companies) launch new services in the cloud. A side note for non-techies, you probably already use cloud services–on the internet, such as email, collaboration tools, website builders and other marketing automation tools.
As some of you know, I worked at Parallels before it was Parallels. In fact, I was part of the marketing team that put together the first summit. I had not been back to the conference since I helped organize it and I was definitely curious to attend the summit.
I was impressed with everything about the summit. It was well organized and the key notes were fantastic. The first key note was Guy Kawasaki, who spoke about the art of changing hearts, minds and actions. Really great speaker and made some noteworthy points which I will cover in a separate post this coming week.
Next, came Birger Steen, CEO of Parallels. He shared some impressive stats with us. Did you know that:
- There are over 5,000 Parallels service providers and re-sellers
- Parallels tech power more than 12 million small and medium businesses (SMBs)
- $1 Trillion is the amount of money spent by SMBs on IT and Telecomm
The next day, Serguei Beloussov, Executive Chairman of Parallels, gave his key note. In it, he looks towards the future and how cloud computing will change in the next ten years. Serguei is truly a visionary. I have known him for many years and he has always had a knack for understanding where technology is headed.
Something that I am very interested in is Parallels efforts to expand its partners ecosystem through their Application Packaging Standard (APS).