Jola Cloud Solutions' Blog

Cherie Howlett

Cherie has over 15 years’ experience in IT marketing and was promoted to Head of Marketing for MDNX post purchase of Griffin. She was Marketing Manager for 5 years and Head of Marketing for Griffin for 2 years setting up a marketing department and strategy for connectivity, data networks and cloud-hosted solutions. During her time at Griffin, the company won 7 Channel ISP of the year awards, 5 Sunday Times Tech Track 100 awards, 2 Deloitte Fast 500 EMEA awards, 1 Deloitte Fast 50 award and 1 Channel Expo award. Cherie built brand awareness in the channel from 0% to 95% using an integrated strategy consisting of online, print, electronic and face to face marketing. Cherie had previously spent 2 years in a Marketing Manager’s role at Pipemedia before it sold to Business Serve in 2006. At Pipemedia she built a VoIP brand called PipeCall using a combination of PR, direct marketing and an online ordering and provisioning portal with plug and play hardware and electronic point of sale units. Cherie’s early career was in International Marketing working for software house AceCad Software and IBM in the European sales division.

Recent Posts

Balancing the ‘new’ with the tried and tested

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 19-Sep-2018 14:23:31

The challenge for marketing teams in the channel is to continually promote their USPs to win new business, without becoming predictable. As marketers, we plan our strategy to deliver on objectives. Overtime we develop messaging and campaigns that work and we know which buttons to press to get results. We need to balance new copy with existing key messages, to stay on track.

Business owners are often focussed on the ‘next big idea’ and can influence copy. Some companies change their brand, their messaging and their offer regularly to stay fresh, but can lose brand identity and enthusiasm for the campaign, if it doesn’t deliver expected results.

As marketers, we know that prospects don’t absorb every key message the first time they see it. It takes time and several touch points to attract their attention, engage with them and convert them. We also know the importance of key messages and layouts to differentiate ourselves and build a recognisable brand.

Don’t be tempted to throw out what is working in favour of the next new idea. Try to incorporate the new idea into existing templates, that contain key messages and USPs. This way the copy can be regularly updated to meet changing demands of the market, without losing your brand identity and key messages.

Reporting is key. By analysing engagement, conversions and order value, you can see if the new campaign is working and make necessary changes.

For more marketing tips, read our blog.

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Topics: marketing

Who should I partner with for internet connectivity?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 19-Sep-2018 14:05:44

Most suppliers have a quoting tool and say they have the best pricing and support, so how do you choose between them?

Choose someone you know and trust with experience managing multiple carriers and overcoming common issues.

Find someone interconnected with all the major operators, who has a simple tool you can enter a postcode and receive all the options quickly.

Consider someone with an easy ordering platform, which keeps you in the loop automatically, so you can keep your customers informed on order progress.

How can they help you differentiate your services from the competition?

Jola

As a team, we have over 70 years’ experience selling white label internet connectivity to the channel. Even if you are an accomplished reseller, it is useful to have someone on your side that really understands the technologies available, who can help to quote custom solutions and overcome common problems.

By partnering with Jola, you can offer a wide range of internet services, can quote customers onsite and provide unique 4G back-up solutions, you can’t buy from anyone else.

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Topics: Internet, Leased line, Broadband

Should we be doing exhibitions?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 05-Sep-2018 09:17:47

For some partners attending and sponsoring exhibitions is part of their marketing strategy and multiple events are booked every year. For others, investing in an exhibition is a big decision, with many internal discussions around investment and potential return. Often the Sales Director makes the final decision and organises it. These partners sometimes turn to suppliers for help and support to maximise their success. There are three key factors to consider when planning an exhibition.

Research your market

Who attends your event? Who attended last year? Are these the types of prospects you are targeting? If so, think about your approach. How do you plan to interact with these prospects?

Many will take an exhibition package, giving them either space for their own stand and materials or a pre-built stand package, branded with their corporate logos. Whatever option you choose, think about your shop window, how your image will compare to your competitors and factor in any additional costs such as broadband and electrics. Ensure you have the ability to demonstrate and promote your services in the most effective way.

Attract your audience

Think about how you will attract prospects to your stand. You don’t have to spend thousands on bill boards outside the event, videos at the entrance hall and internal signage to get attention. You can invite prospects to your stand beforehand but be aware they may also visit your competitors. You can advertise yourself in the show guide and work the stand to ensure that every prospect that passes your stand is approached and qualified.

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Topics: Jola Cloud Solutions Ltd, marketing

Looking for a good voice and data wholesaler?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 05-Sep-2018 08:40:05

When looking for a new supplier of voice and data services, there are a number of factors to consider. Who has the best pricing? Who offers the widest range of best-of-breed services? Who will give me the best service?

Pricing

Pricing is key. To win business and retain a healthy margin, you need competitive wholesale rates. Rather than going on headline pricing alone, quote a live opportunity to get an understanding of how prospective suppliers stack up against existing suppliers.

Products

To be competitive and win new business, you need to offer a better solution at a reduced price. How can your supplier help you differentiate your proposition? What is unique about their offering and is this of value to your own customers? Having a wide range of options from a single supplier, makes quoting and ordering easier, provisioning more efficient and support more effective. Having products that you can’t buy from anyone else, enhances your own USPs.

Service

How much does your new supplier care about your business? Channel-only suppliers, dedicated to supporting companies like you, better understand the demands placed on you by your customers. They answer calls and emails promptly and resolve issues in enough time for you to hit your own response targets.

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Topics: Jola Cloud Solutions Ltd

Are you winning leased line opportunities?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 20-Aug-2018 14:55:21

The opportunity

Demand for business internet connectivity in the UK is being driven by the availability of faster more reliable, fibre and Ethernet technologies. Leased line pricing has reduced by up to 50% in the last six months, helping to further fuel demand.

Companies are looking for faster, more reliable internet connectivity to access cloud-hosted applications such as CRM, accountancy and telephony applications. Cloud applications tend to be pay per seat per month and come without the investment in servers and internal management.

Businesses are looking to suppliers to advise them on what is available and expect the best possible price, smooth installations and excellent technical support. Are your customers coming to you for leased line quotes? If not, why not?

 

Who to partner with for leased lines?

IT and telecoms providers are looking for suppliers that can offer them the widest choice of carrier services at best possible pricing with tools to make quoting and ordering easy. They are looking for experienced providers who understand the carrier installation processes and potential barriers to sale, such as lead times, wayleave and excess construction charges. Who do you partner with for leased lines? Are they competitive? Do they offer a quick and easy quoting tool?

Quoting Tools

One tool which delivers best pricing from multiple suppliers displaying all technologies available in minutes is useful when quoting solutions. They are fast, accurate and easy to order from. You can quote customers on-site, during a meeting.

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Topics: Leased line

Want to transition from dealer to reseller?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 20-Aug-2018 14:47:51

IT and Telecoms companies can improve ARPU by supplying new products to loyal customers. Research shows that SMEs prefer to buy from existing suppliers, they trust. Until there is sufficient demand to justify investment in support, billing and marketing, the supplier will often partner with a specialist on an introduction and commission basis. Moving from a dealer to a reseller model provides better control and improved margins, however there are challenges along the way.

Forecasts, targets and contract terms

What are the rules? Are there any set targets? Read the partner agreement before you sign and ask to speak to a partner that has made the transition to ensure you are comfortable with the terms and conditions.

Billing

Billing can be problematic for IT companies that want to start reselling fixed, mobile and hosted telephony products. Alongside monthly service charges they will need to process monthly CDRs (Call Data Records), rating each call type and producing itemised bills and variable invoices. It is difficult and risky to try and adapt existing in-house billing systems and purchasing and managing specialist billing software is not always feasible.

There are some good third-party billing products available, however the set-up fees, monthly standing charge and billing percentages mean the reseller often has to take several orders before the margin covers the monthly cost of billing. Some of the more sophisticated suppliers offer white-label billing for their products and will even bill products and services the reseller buys from other suppliers. This can be a cheaper and less risky alternative.

Support

Until you reach a critical mass of customers it is not worth recruiting and training additional support staff. For business-critical products that have 24/7 SLAs, technical support is a particular challenge. There are some very good bureau services available however these come with set-up charges and minimum spends. Often, they will also charge for calls by the minute and per email on tickets. Incidents happen with any technology and a major outage could cost thousands of pounds. If the supplier of the products offers a white label technical support service, then this is the best solution until you can justify hiring your own team. Only the best suppliers will stand by their products by offering a white label technical support product on a fixed-cost basis. They will also help you to train your own support staff when the time is right.

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Topics: Dealer, Jola Cloud Solutions Ltd

Hosted Telephony Facts and Fiction

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 15-Aug-2018 10:23:17

The opportunity

According to Statista in 2017, the European mobile VoIP market was estimated to be worth 10 billion pounds. As SMEs come out of contract with traditional telephony suppliers, they are researching the potential cost savings and benefits of moving to a hosted solution. Often they will turn to trusted IT and telecoms providers for help.

Facts

50% cost saving

SMEs can save up to 50% on their monthly phone bill by moving to a hosted solution. They can avoid up-front costs entirely by paying for the service and devices on a per-seat-per-licence basis. Unlimited calls to both landlines and mobiles are often included and inter-company calls, across multiple sites are free.

45+ features as standard

Many hosted telephony packages come with inclusive features such as auto attendant, busy lamp fields, Office UC (instant messaging, presence and video), Go Integrator, shared call appearance, voicemail, call forwarding, redial, DND, call pickup, hunt groups, hot-desking, call waiting and music-on-hold. Additional features such as call recording, conferencing, screen collaboration, CRM integration, call reporting and real-time statistics can be added on a per month, per extension basis.

Benefits

Hosted telephony systems offer the ability for SMEs to work remotely as if in the office, using other devices as their desk phone. Companies can port their existing numbers to avoid changing their business contact details and can benefit from advanced call routing and management features. Office UC allows employees to use tablets, PCs and mobile phones instead of, and as well as, a traditional handset. They can see who is free to take calls from their directory and make and take video and voice calls, whilst sending IM messages.

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Topics: Hosted telephony

Are you using LinkedIn effectively?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 15-Aug-2018 10:09:21

LinkedIn is the most popular social media platform for business. You may have a LinkedIn page for your company, but are you making the most out of it?

Have a goal

Having a measurable goal is a good way of assessing how well LinkedIn is working for your business. Often businesses will track number of connections or number of likes and comments, however this may not be the right metric to track success. Think about what you want to get from LinkedIn. From a marketing prospective we are trying to attract, engage and convert our prospects into leads. By adding a strong call to action to all your blogs posted on LinkedIn and tracking them overtime against a target can be a good metric.

Build up a mailing list

When you have generated interest from content posted on LinkedIn and they have visited your website, the objective is to generate a lead to convert. This is often a process over time. By adding web prospects from LinkedIn to your mailing lists, with all the appropriate permissions, you can build a list of warmer prospects to send targeted and personalised content to.

Plan multiple contacts

Five contacts over a six month period from blog to email, to webinar, to call, to face to face meetings helps to engage and convert LinkedIn prospects. A joined-up sales and marketing approach is key.

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Topics: Jola Cloud Solutions Ltd, marketing

What happened to my lead?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 15-Aug-2018 09:51:57

One of the biggest frustrations for marketing is good, qualified leads that showed an interest but didn’t go anywhere. Not every lead you generate will convert, however when you have profiled your mailing list, crafted a campaign and generated some great opportunities, it is useful to know what went wrong.

Missed

The most common mistake when following up leads is leaving it too late to reply. With a prospect contacting you, there is a window of the same working day to respond. If you make contact in a timely manner, understand and meet the requirements, you will establish a relationship, which you can build from. By forgetting to respond and being reminded by the prospect, you are on the back foot and may have already given the competition a head start.

Misunderstanding

You have managed to hit the right person at the right time but you have misunderstood the requirement. He contacts you for pricing. If you can’t get hold of the prospect to fully understand his requirements, you may send the wrong information and miss the opportunity. The prospect may not have time to take sales calls, but without properly qualifying his requirement, the opportunity will be lost and the prospect challenging to re-engage with.

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Topics: Jola Cloud Solutions Ltd, marketing

Who is buying pooled data?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 15-Aug-2018 09:43:55

Large Corporates with voice and data SIMs

Corporates typically have a large estate of mobile phones. Many have relationships with the carriers directly and benefit from the latest handsets. Those coming out of contract are looking to compare deals. They don’t want to sign lengthy contracts and are looking to overcome overage charges and billing challenges. They often contract with more than one carrier.

The Solution

By analysing bill data, resellers can understand the mixture of high and low data users and create a compelling proposal. By creating an aggregated pool, resellers can build their pool size by assigning data SIMs to it. Pools and SIM packages are available on 30 day terms. There is a selection of packages and carrier networks to choose from and alerts can be set up to track usage. If usage exceeds pool allowance in any month, resellers can negate overage charges by drawing from their buffer pools, which offer a much more competitive per MB rate.

Multi-sited organisations with 4G back-up

Multi-sited organisations such as supermarkets, retailers, restaurants, gyms and hotels are using internet connectivity to run digital Point of Sale screens and door entry systems amongst other things. These customers want reliable internet connectivity and don’t want to pay huge overage charges when the 4G failover kicks in.

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Topics: Mobile SIMs, Mobile, 4G

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