Bob MacIntyre and Steve Thompson of NetEx recently took the time to chat with us about how, as an emerging player, they use TechValidate to differentiate their offering and showcase their value in a highly competitive landscape. NetEx’s HyperIP WAN Optimization virtual appliance dramatically improves the performance of storage replication, backup and vMotion applications across existing IP WANs.
Q: From your experience, how has the marketing landscape changed over the last 10 years?
Steve Thompson: We’ve seen a major departure from the marketing techniques and tactics that worked 5-10 years ago. The old days of doing press releases, sending them over the wire, responding to some analysts and doing tours about company wins are no longer effective. You have to be much more creative and leverage new approaches, like social media, in your marketing campaigns.
For us, we’ve had to go to market differently than our competition. We aren’t a big established name that Gartner recognizes and endorses. Since we don’t satisfy all the criteria that Gartner mandates to be on their magic quadrant we’re doing it our own way. We have to show our prospects 3rd party validation and proof that our technology works. That is how we compete and win.
Bob MacIntyre: It’s a brand new world. With the internet, social media and third-party products like TechValidate, we’re now able to get our message out there to people who are not used to seeing our brand. Ten years ago it took forever for us to get brand recognition. Now it’s done in a matter of months or less.
Q: As an emerging vendor in the WAN optimization space, what are the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
Bob: We’re a small company, without the presence or deep pockets of the big guys in the space. Without a big marketing budget, we have to judiciously leverage innovative solutions and maximize awareness with each marketing activity.
HyperIP is the best thing since sliced bread, but we need to effectively communicate that differentiation. It makes a huge difference when we can show that we are beginning to take business away from Bluecoat, Riverbed and other major players.
It’s very important to get evidence from our customers that can truly validate our claims about how effective our software is. TechValidate helps us build that credibility and awareness into all our communications. I truly believe that the TechValidate case studies we’ve been putting out there are making the difference with respect to our credibility in the space.
Steve: I agree. When you’re small and lean, the only thing that gets you in front of larger customers or generates traction is evidence of other wins. It’s huge for us to be able to market around these wins and success stories and gain validation in the market for a reasonable price.
TechValidate’s value proposition for a small company like ours is simple: we can now “swim with the sharks” and win. We do not have to spend the dollars the competition did to educate the marketplace as long as we can prove that we are the best. That’s a huge value from a NetEx perspective.
Q: So let’s talk a little about specifics here. What strategies have you employed when using TechValidate? How has this worked for you?
Bob: From a strategy standpoint; we’re not a big company and we don’t have a huge customer list. So we’ve taken a rifle shot strategy of smaller, targeted TechValidate surveys to collect customer proof from all new accounts that we close. We send a TechValidate survey to all new customer wins. Once a customer has responded to the outreach, it can instantaneously gives us another case study to add to the portfolio.
What we found is that TechValidate is a very non-intrusive way to ask the customers to voluntarily give feedback about our product.
Q: Let’s talk about some of the more surprising testimonials/proof points you’ve gotten with TechValidate.
Bob: The eye-opening thing that comes to my mind is the evidence we’ve received about how much we’re beating the competition – I really had no clue. The fact that customers have reviewed Bluecoat, Riverbed, Cisco and then come back to Hyper IP and purchased based on what we do is fantastic information to market around.
Also the response rate was higher than I expected. That is probably an indicator of the fact that our customers are happy and comfortable with TechValidate.
Steve: We had a distributor that I’ve been working with quite closely on some strategy lately that said, “I didn’t know you optimized this application until I went to the TechValidate page and I went through your case studies. I realized then that there’s an opportunity for me to make money reselling your product!” That to me is an ROI for the TechValidate product. We were able to connect with that reseller who saw the customer pain that we solved using TechValidate. That is what it is all about.
Q: Once you have published content with TechValidate, how do you leverage it and how has it contributed to some of those wins you were referring to?
Bob: We use the content throughout all our marketing and sales communications. First of all, we have links to the TechValidate research on our website that clicks through to the TechValidate website.
You can hit our home page and see TechValidate content. Right now, there is customer proof point talking about how we won a deal against Riverbed front and center on our site.
We also aggressively leverage it in social media. We take the TechValidate content and we broadcast that through Twitter, LinkedIn and all the social media channels. And we actually copy the competitor forums and we put it in the face of all the competition and re-sellers.
We also distribute it heavily to our field salesforce. Internally we say, “Hey check out the latest TechValidate proofpoints and case studies”. Our internal sales folks then propagate that out to our distributors and resellers.
We’ve created our own ecosystem that broadcasts the content detailing those successes. It goes out to everybody and it’s very easy.
Q: Any wisdom to pass on to marketing teams at other companies or people that are considering TechValidate? Best Practices?
Bob: Any size company can leverage TechValidate. Big or small, there’s a place for it.
It’s helpful to have a point person to manage the tool. You have to put a little bit of love into it, but once you do, it will yield significant value. It’s an excellent tool to add to your portfolio for your market strategy.
Q: Do you have a rule of thumb: how much time a new user should budget for using TechValidate?
Steve: It takes a couple of man hours to learn how to build and send the outreach. I really don’t think it’s hard. I probably spend 3 hours total in an entire week.
Once you create a routine, it’s not hard and doesn’t take up that much time, especially when you consider what you get out of it.
If you hit our website, and click through to the TechValidate page it looks like we busted our tail publishing 40 case studies. I can tell you it was nothing to create those 40 case studies, especially compared to the time it used to take to create just one, traditionally.
As a result, I can concentrate on moving product, instead of marketing all the time. Like all small companies, we’re all wearing multiple hats. I do not need to spend all my time on TechValidate. I need it to be a tool that helps me help our field and help our channel. You can quote that anyway you want. Honest to god, it’s a huge time saver for me.
Q: What kind of impact has TechValidate marketing content had on your sales and marketing efforts?
Bob: More times than not, I hear that people have seen our TechValidate content and we’ll often hear prospects say that they have read a case study and that helped them decide to become a customer. That says to me, there is real value to this program.
TechValidate also gives us a vehicle by which we can very quickly disseminate customer content and proof through social media, email or the press. It just gives us lots of ways to increase the awareness we need. We’re also using it to drive deals to close and reduce the time of our sales cycle.
Steve: I’ve had a couple of resellers come back and say they directed a prospect to a case study from a client that fit their profile. And then that prospect became a client. That means that we got a deal based on that case study. TechValidate pays for itself. That’s what it’s all about. I’m in the field working face to face with these guys and I hear that all the time from my resellers.
Many thanks to Steve, Bob and NetEx for sharing their perspectives!
Bob MacIntyre: Vice President of Business Development and Marketing at NetEx.
Steve Thompson: Director, Strategic Accounts/ Director, Technical Marketing/ OEM Business Development on the HyperIP team at NetEx.