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Your Cloud Solution Won't Sell Here: How geographic differences are significant to marketing

By May 31, 2011Article

I recently sat down with Raghu, VP of Product Management and Marketing for Cloud Solutions, at one of our clients. We discussed some problems he is having gaining widespread acceptance of his solution.
“I get a lot of feedback from our field and partners on what’s working and what’s not working, and yet, it’s more confusing than helpful. The feedback is quite different, depending on where they are. It’s hard to make sense of it all,” Raghu said.
I see this issue in many of our clients. Whether your product management / product marketing teams are in the US, Japan, Europe or elsewhere, they bring with them an understandable bias to their home market.
Many companies fail to consider – or are simply stumped by –
the different requirements other regions have. This oversight significantly impedes the expansion of products internationally and reduces global sales opportunities. What can companies do to incorporate geographic differences?
This issue is particularly acute with the emerging field of cloud solutions. Let’s look at some of the regional differences that are driving Raghu crazy:

  • Europe: Privacy is always an area of concern (see ”Security is Imperative for Cloud Computing”). In particular, areas of Europe (think Switzerland and the EU) have particularly strict data privacy laws. These regions are far more likely to adopt private cloud solutions verses public in the near-term. Something to watch for is, should the EU decide to leverage a pan-EU data security platform, this could create more demand across Europe, with the more conservative countries following after the early adopters test out solutions.
  • Japan: The Japanese market is heavily dependent on outsourcers, which are currently slow to adopt cloud offerings. However, once they develop proven cloud offerings, adoption of cloud solutions should accelerate rapidly due to the comfort and dependency on outsourcers.
  • Asia: In China, government regulations greatly reduce the potential for public cloud solutions. Piracy also plays a role in reducing demand for any product that isn’t free, so the cloud solution should not attempt to compete with free options. In addition, most Chinese companies prefer on-premise solutions. Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia appear to be aggressively planning hybrid cloud adoption strategies.
  • Developing regions: In most developing countries, one would think their lack of legacy investments would make it easier for them to adopt cloud. However, the lack of a strong partner ecosystem is a deterrent to more rapid adoption.

Vive la difference
So, the question Raghu asked me is – “What do I do with all of these differences”? I said to Raghu that the first step is to not get overwhelmed with data, but instead, to start performing some simple research and develop a prioritized global marketing plan.

  • Research: The first step is to conduct some research on market segmentation. Educate your team on the different approaches regional markets have to implementing cloud technology — how they will use it, how they will understand it and how they will purchase it. Once you’ve done your homework, prioritize the information based on what your research has identified as the most important market segments for you. From your list, what can you add to your MRD list now, and what can be targeted for a later date?
  • Adaptable value propositions: The second step is to create a global value propositions that represents your overarching solution benefits that fit everywhere. What makes your product unique and differentiated to customers globally? There are some value props that are indeed universal, and your marketing messages should naturally include those universal values.
    Once your global positioning is done, you can step into segment-specific and/or geographic-specific positioning. Now that you know what’s important to your most important segments, provide them with the value propositions that resonate specifically with them. Do this not just from a sales perspective, but with you local marketing as well.

  • Partner relationships: The third step is to consider the “whole solution,” which includes your partners. Don’t think you have to build the whole thing for each and every market you want a presence in. That’s what Partners bring to the table. They can educate both users and developers and help build a strong partner ecosystem.
    In fact, partners can assist you with all three of these steps – with education, helping to prioritize regional value propositions, and establishing a partner-based relationship in specific regions.
    Partner programs that make use of regional VARs and system integrators will be very useful in any cloud marketing strategy. They will have a closer connection to the regional audience, and a better understanding of how they do business, which makes them a great liaison between you the provider of cloud technology, and the global consumers of it. (For more, see Channel Program Modeling.)

Raghu agreed that these steps would help him not only define and build better solutions, but will also enable him to position his cloud solution more effectively in all of his key markets.
Glenn Gow is CEO of Crimson Consulting Group, a strategic marketing consultancy focused on B2B clients, with a particular strength in technology marketing.
This blog post was originally published on Crimson Consulting Group’s blog, Active Market Leadership.

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