Imagine you’re the sales manager for a small colocation data center.
For months, you’ve been struggling to compete against larger, more entrenched competitors.
You wake up one morning and notice a Tweet announcing that SUPERNAP just held a grand opening for its SUPERNAP 9 data center --- and a life-sized robot, named Meta Rebel, actually cut the ribbon.
You think to yourself, holy crap! How the heck do we hold a candle to that?
Find Out if R2-D2 and C-3PO Are Available
How do you even begin to level the playing field?
Maybe invite George Lucas and see if he can bring along R2-D2 and C-3PO?
Heck, why limit the media buzz factor by having a relatively obscure robot named Meta Rebel preside at your ribbon-cutting --when you can recruit the pop culture icons that’ve captured our hearts for decades, ever since the original Star Wars box office sensation in 1977.
But given Lucas’ resume as creator of both the Indiana Jones and Star Wars franchises, and an estimated $5 billion net worth, I suspect emceeing your colocation data center’s next ribbon-cutting ceremony wouldn’t be high on his bucket list – or within the realm of your marketing budget.
So what do you do?
Differentiate By Becoming the Best World-Class Communicators and Teachers on the Planet
At the end of the day, the goal is to grow your data center’s client list and revenue.
Fortunately for the underdog, there are a lot of ways to get there.
For a relatively small colocation provider, it’s really important that you compete by using the width of your brains, rather than the width of your wallet.
And while you certainly can’t outspend the 800-pound gorilla you compete against, you can out-teach your competition -- and out-help your clients and potential clients.
The way to do so is by committing to becoming the best, world-class communicators and teachers about anything and everything related to IT, business, and colocation data centers in your local and regional market.
Attract, Convert, and Dominate the First 70% of the Buyer’s Journey
Content is critical for getting found during the first 70% of the buyer’s journey that happens before potential clients are ready for a conversation with someone from your sales team.
During this stage of the sales cycle, potential clients are looking for resources that help them
- Learn more about their problems (awareness stage content, sometimes called top of the funnel)
- Compare different solutions to their problems (consideration stage content, sometimes called middle of the funnel)
Most colo data centers, big and small, rarely have enough content for early stage prospects and instead concentrate nearly all of their efforts on late-stage prospects that are already deep in the decision making stage, or in the final 30% of the buyer’s journey.
Get There Early Enough or Don’t Bother Trying
There’s a major flaw in this approach, however: You arrive too late in the decision process to matter.
This would almost be like showing up to a wedding reception, an hour after the ceremony has taken place, jumping up during the first dance, a little inebriated, and proclaiming “I object!” – directed towards your high school sweetheart that you haven’t seen in 10 years. The timing’s a little off by a decade or so, don’t you think?
When you fail to have a content strategy and implementation program for that super-critical, formative, first 70% of the buyer’s journey, your best potential clients are learning about their problems and potential solutions from someone else.
That someone else has created amazingly helpful, thought leadership content -- content that’s so freaking remarkable and valuable that in another era, that content could’ve been sold either a la carte as digital downloads or on a subscription basis behind a paywall.
So who exactly is that someone that’s now framed the buyer’s journey for your best potential clients?
That someone else – not at your colo data center -- becomes perceived as the teacher, the professor if you will, and trusted advisor.
No matter how compelling the value proposition of your data center, at the end of the day evaluators and decision makers are people. And people buy from those that they trust.
Build Trust Early and Often
How do we build trust?
By becoming the go-to source for learning resources and education on again -- anything and everything related to IT, business, and data centers in your local and regional market.
How do we know what topics to create content around?
We don’t guess. We ask. And ask some more and more until we find consensus for each kind of ideal buyer that we’re looking to attract, convert, close, and delight.
All of this research gets aggregated into building your buyer personas -- without which, your content results will underperform and in almost all cases, cause a failure to achieve your goals.
Now granted, this isn’t an overnight fix like recruiting the legendary Star Wars droids.
It will take some serious time and resources to get your content strategy up and running, with enough helpful content, and enough reach and distribution, to at least meet your top of the funnel lead generation goals.
Differentiate to Attract the Strangers that Would Make Amazing Clients
However for a smaller colocation data center that’s competing against the likes of SUPERNAP, you need a way to differentiate with those that don’t yet know your data center exists – in other words, strangers.
Because, by default nearly all CEOs and sales directors of data centers, when asked about their differentiation strategies, mention a whole bunch of factors that only matter once someone is already a client or is at least a decision stage sales opportunity – 70% of the way through the decision-making process.
But what about the much larger number of strangers that would make awesome clients, that don’t even know your data center exists?
What’s your plan for attracting the right buyer personas, in the right context, at the right time, and with the right content? And how will you convert those strangers into leads? And, then ultimately into sales-ready leads and opportunities?
These are all issues that must be addressed if your data center is to have a snowball’s chance in the Nevada dessert of competing head to head with much larger players.
What do you do to differentiate and compete with much larger data centers? Is that strategy effective in attracting strangers and transforming them into website visitors? And then ultimately into marketing qualified leads? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.
And if you are the CEO or the sales director of a smaller colo data center that needs to better compete with the big guys to build a healthier sales pipeline, definitely download a copy of our free eBook on “Lead Generation Best Practices for Colocation Data Centers.”
Topics:- Data Center Colocation