Mark Petruzzi is the co-author of Selling the Cloud and took some time out to talk with The Industry Leaders about free marketing tactics that any entrepreneur can use to grow their business this year.
What's your industry?
Enterprise and Cloud Software product and services sales
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I am proud to say that I really don’t know how I got to where I am today. I cannot say I had an exact plan, especially since the SaaS industry was not even a thing when I embarked on my career.
What kind of work does your daily role involve?
I in the enviable position of getting the opportunity to listen much more everyday than I speak. And the beauty is, I get to listen to some of the most successful. SAS CROs and CEOs on the planet. I then get to advise and counsel based on my unique experience and mindset.
I am happy to report that most times the perspectives that I share get swiftly put into motion and I get to see firsthand how those ideas and strategies impact company morale, process optimization and ultimately operating results.
What gets you excited about your industry?
It has revolutionalized how software is utilized and leveraged to improve business processes across every industry. It also has significantly increased business valuations due to revenues becoming recurring and reliable to Wall Street.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you on your journey in business?
Focus on Trust-building and always be trustworthy. I had the distinct honor to be involved with Charlie Green, who pretty much coined the phrase “Trusted Advisor” and wrote a book under that name and another, “Trust-based Selling”, right from the beginning of him writing those books. I was a young sales rep at the time, but he treated me as an executive collaborator.
What's been the hardest part about the path you've taken and how would you advise someone facing a similar situation to overcome it?
It has been the hardest, but also the most fun. Staying focused. All I can say here is if your main goals are monetary then staying focused is uniquely important. If you goals, like mine are building a set of skills that are most valuable to companies and most powerful based on its uniqueness, then enjoy the journey and embrace the diversity of your opportunities.
In the current climate especially, many CEOs are looking for ways to cut costs, with marketing budgets usually one of the budgets to be cut. Is that wise?
Oftentimes it’s easy to take a look at your budget and wonder if the money you’re putting into marketing is worth it. Marketing is supposed to be an investment that pays itself back, so if you’re questioning, this probably means it’s not being executed correctly or efficiently. Since marketing is a form of communication, cutting costs can lead to loss of existing and future customers. All in all, cuts would not be wise.
For people thinking of starting businesses in 2023, would you say it's still possible to build a big business with little or no marketing budget?
Yes, it may be harder but it is definitely possible. 20 years ago my answer may have looked different, but with social media and email advancements, you can gain outreach with little to no budget. You first need to understand your target customers’ needs, business goals, and setting realistic success metrics. This will help you when deciding your strategy. My main suggestion would be using social platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram, and Tiktok as your main channels. Through these, you can perform direct outreach via DM or you can choose to run ads for minimal cost. Of course, as you grow and become more profitable, you will be able to run more out-of-home, audio, and streaming/televised advertising. In short, many companies start with a slim marketing budget but if you have a strategy, recognize your capabilities, and use them to your advantage, you can still be successful!
Can you share one or two of your favorite free marketing strategies that a business owner in your industry can use.
As mentioned in my answer above, posting and direct engagement on social media is one of my favorite free strategies. Some tips for engagement would be hashtags, tagging other people/brands, and creating appealing graphics. Additionally, Don’t be afraid to reach out to people and ask for help, the worst they can say is no, but every “no” brings you closer to a “yes”. More recently I have also found that I get a few hits off of email marketing. With mailchimp and other email marketing softwares, you can make a professional looking message and gain some data out of it.
Do you think it's getting easier or harder to create a profitable business in your industry?
I would say easier. With the available data we have today, we know longer have to play a guessing game or rely on intuition. You can physically look at the data and see where you went right or wrong, what’s working and what’s not, and make accurate predictions and effective changes. As mentioned previously, with the technology we have today, it has never been easier to get your product or service out there. There are so many forms of advertising and marketing that can be done from home. Knowing what metrics and platforms to focus on and dedicating your time and effort into it can really yield success in today’s world. I know this may sound cliche but you really have to love what you’re selling and trust your process in order to be sustainable.