As I’m sure many of you have already seen, we’re really beefing up the ExchangeDefender Essentials lineup before we announce the final move in the 1-2-3 punch that will carry our partners up in 2012. This time, we’re adding an ExchangeDefender LiveArchive-like feature to ExchangeDefender Essentials, our budget-friendly solution.
Now on the corporate blog I have to be friendly and make it seem like sometimes you need to make tough decisions with tight budgets and make calculated compromises.
On here I don’t.
Now that little fact in itself makes some of my friends, employees and partners cringe because they try to imagine what’s it like to be on the receiving end of this. Those folks, fundamentally, do not understand how social media works. The main goal of this blog is not to beat down MSPs. It’s also not to pump up products and webinars. When you do that stuff too much people tune out in the most worthwhile way – they stop talking back. Feedback is the primary reason I write this blog – it gives me the opinion, insight, marketing research and everything else I could ever need to get the perspective needed to run my business. That’s also how we stay ahead of our competitors and why our products find so much success, as if they were built to order. Because on a really fundamental level, they are. Even when they conflict with one another.
So with that in mind, let me explain the Essentials, Emergency, all of ExchangeDefender and how it fits and where it fits and why even bother doing it.
Typical abusive opinion should be written this way:
If you’re an MSP running a clients server without a failover like ExchangeDefender LiveArchive, you’re a fucking moron. Do you really think saving pennies and dimes is going to come even close to the losses you’re about to incur when the Exchange server goes down – and it will go down – and the client blames you – and they will blame you – and ruin both your reputation at worst and your ability to sell them additional products and services at best? Seriously? The business that is sitting there deciding whet her or not they need to be put out of business temporarily or permanently over a few bucks a month is a business that is gambling with it’s existence, do you comprehend the level of risk you are undertaking by trying to play into their nickel and diming games?
Now there are grains of truth in the above paragraph (I’ll get back to them in a moment) and to an aspiring IT industry sociopath writing a blog post like that would be incomprehensible. Oh my god, who would do business with someone that speaks in such a way? Turns out a lot of people – because the fact is that we don’t necessarily do business with people because we like them but because the product fits. When it comes to business all that personal stuff goes out the window.
I wish someone had told me that years ago, it would have saved me a lot of time and grief.
Eventually I figured it out on my own by accident and it’s what’s brought you our cloud services, expanded ExchangeDefender, LiveArchive, Shockey Monkey, Looks Cloudy, etc. In order to be successful you either have to be the best (the odds are against you on this one) or you have to work the hardest (this is really just a matter of choice).
Technically, I held back on approving the buildout of Essentials product for years mostly because the profit margins in the high end product were great and I didn’t have the resources to support more than one product per category. There were also a shitload of problems and scaling issues that took years to resolve, but those are minor details.
Emotionally, I also grew so tired of people who had to sit and think about whether or not a $2 hit to their MSP bottom line would be worth it. I also grew tired of explaining how my $2 product did what my competitors charged double digits for.
Insecurely, I felt that introducing multiple products per category would lead to cannibalization. Surely most people will just switch to the cheaper solution from the more expensive one if they are not using it completely. Right? Right? Wrong. I was wrong about this.
Finally, the essentials product came about because it was a fundamentally different product (even though it is built on the same base with same features at the core) because it appealed to different kinds of partners/clients and it had an entirely different marketplace.
Initially I felt quite dirty about the Essentials product because I felt like partners were selling a product that would ultimately serve as a death trap. I spend millions of dollars building redundancy around redundant systems and really am consumed around making sure things never go down. Yet there were tons of people knocking down my door saying outages were not an issue.
Well, which is it?
Turns out, it’s both. There are just different requirements. And over time the products pick up critical mass and create a profit margin that allows us to include additional features without an overwhelmingly large cost structure associated with it. For example, the Essentials Emergency will cost us less than what it would cost us to sponsor a conference circuit aimed at low end and startup clients. In fact, it will cost less than a half.
Now quick question – what do you think will sell more products: word of mouth and referrals or me in a white suit in a hotel in Baltimore?
The way I see it, ExchangeDefender will continue to appeal to high end partners and MSPs worldwide. The Essentials product will appeal to those who only need the very basics. But with both, our entire team will be able to sleep at night knowing that we’re doing everything in our power to deliver the feature set that backs people up even when they make a decision that doesn’t make sense – because you know what, every software developer feels their features are the most important.
So I’ll introduce you to ExchangeDefender Essentials punch #3 shortly and I guarantee you’re going to like it. My opinion (and that of OWN) is that the MSPs will continue to grow in the cloud – and that the old infrastructure business support services (filtering, security, backups, management) are up for grabs and prone to more consumerisation and consolidation.
For years, I only chose to do my business on the high end. And for years, Postini kicked my ass simply by offering a barebones product for a $1. But if the clients chose a competitive product based on cost, how loyal would they be to it once they could switch to a product to boost their margins? And at what point is a switch no longer worth the effort?
Ah, the fun of running a business. Here is to an awesome 2012!