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Marketing and selling through resellers and partners other than direct customers [PODCAST]


PreneurCast is a business podcast. Each week, author and marketer Pete Williams and digital media producer Dom Goucher discuss entrepreneurship, business, internet marketing and productivity.

What do you do when people start publically criticizing your advertising?

Get straight on the front foot, reach out with dignity, share your thought process, and the results!

… and that’s exactly that the team at Xero.com did with me recently after I wrote a blog post and had a little dig at a marketing campaign they are running.

So on today’s show, Penny Elmslie from Xero’s marketing team joins me to talk about this recent marketing campaign, and share how they deal with the unique challenges of marketing and selling via a community of resellers and partners, rather than direct to the end customer.

We cover a lot of ground in this conversation:

  • begining with how they justify their “street billboard campaign”,
  • how they define their path to market,
  • how to deal with two types of customers/audiences,
  • and most importantly, how to build a global (software SaaS) through resellers.

Pete and Dom talk to Steve about Read It For Me and how he turns his notes into reviews

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Episode 125:
The Challenge of Indirect Marketing

Dom Goucher:      Hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s PreneurCast with me Dom Goucher, and him Pete Williams.

Pete Williams:      Howdy ho. How are you?

Dom:                         Very well, sir. Very well. This week, folks, stay tuned — where you can hear Pete give some lessons in marketing after insulting somebody on his blog.

Pete:                         Very interesting conversation.

Dom:                         It’s great. So, what have you been working on this week, Pete?

Pete:                         A couple of things, really. I’m in between Half Ironman races. I have one here in Melbourne last Sunday, and I have one in Geelong next Sunday. Doing two back-to-back, which is interesting. That’s been the crazy shenanigans of my week this week. Mixed in with working on a new podcast. That’s exciting.

Dom:                         Yep, I’ve been helping you out with the technical side of that. It’s quite an exciting project actually.

Pete:                         Yeah, it’s going to be pretty cool. There’s a whole bunch of other stuff wrapped around it too. But if you’ve been following the blog, PreneurMarketing.com, you’ve probably seen that there’s been a couple of recent posts in a related but slightly different direction. But the podcast is going to be right into that topic. So, check out the site, and see if you can play detective and figure it out. But we will be announcing it in a much more official way, probably in a couple of weeks.

Dom:                         This, folks, is an example of what we make sure we try and tell you guys to do, which is pick an audience and make sure you speak directly to them. And what Pete’s working on right now, it’s not core PreneurCast audience stuff. So, he made the decision to spin off and create this focused podcast to speak directly to that audience. I’m not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing (depending on which comments you read on the podcast), but I’m not on this show. That said, moving swiftly on…

As we always talk about, Pete, as well as your over-energetic, in between Ironman stuff that you do every week and all your training, you very often are listening to something while you’re training, which is picking stuff up that you’ve been sent by publishers. What’s on the Book of the Week list this week?

Pete:                         In terms of the Audible Book of the Week (which is a great sponsor of ours), Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition [by T. Colin Campbell] has been the book that I’ve been listening to at training this week. It’s about plant-based nutrition and all about the health benefits and the lifestyle benefits. I’m really loving that plant-powered stuff. We can blame Rich Roll (who’s on the show a while ago now) and also Matt Frazier from NoMeatAthlete.com (again, on the show recently) who pushed that in me. That’s been awesome.

If you want to get a copy of that book, AudibleTrial.com/PreneurCast is where you can go and grab yourself a free copy of the audiobook. Whole is this week’s recommendation.

Dom:                         Can I just ask on that point?

Pete:                         Sure.

Dom:                         I know you have your Ironman tattoo.

Pete:                         Yes.

Dom:                         Are you going to get the No Meat Athlete little carrot as well?

Pete:                         No, I don’t think I’ll go that far. I think Matt and I did talk about that on the show. But yeah, no, I’m not going to go that far with that sort of tattoo.

Dom:                         Cool. I’ll be keeping eye on that.

Pete:                         The other book that hit my desk this week, which is exciting, is Get Rich Slow [Start Now, Start Small to Achieve Real Wealth] by Sarah Riegelhuth. A great book by an Australian entrepreneur about the finance game. She’s in the finance game and helps a lot of people in that space. The book’s a very different approach to ‘get rich quick’. It’s been an interesting flick, an interesting read, and we’ll probably get Sarah on the show in a couple of weeks’ time as well.

Dom:                         Yeah, and then you can ask her how to pronounce her name.

Pete:                         Yes, I should do that, shouldn’t I?

Dom:                         On that, this is a complete aside and a slight detour. I was watching the Wimbledon last year. One of the sportscasters on there made this amazing suggestion that made totally amazing sense. It makes more sense to somebody like me with a weird name, than somebody like you with an ordinary name.

He said, everybody who’s got anything to do with being in the public eye ought to have, as part of their press kit, a little video of them saying their name properly. Because the number of times, especially in things like tennis or sports, there’s all kinds of names all over that. So yeah, you should maybe mention that to Sarah.

Pete:                         Yeah, that’s great. We could have that in our conversation. I’ll try and insult somebody else. It seems to work really well.

Dom:                         It is working really well, which is an awesome segue. That is an awesome segue into our topic for this week. Genuinely, this really happened, didn’t it? You wrote a post on your blog recently, basically slapping somebody’s marketing, questioning their sanity.

Pete:                         Yes.

Dom:                         And they got back to you about that, didn’t they?

Pete:                         Yeah, we talked about it in the conversation here with Penny [Elmslie] from Xero. Xero is, I’ve talked about in the interview, one of the most amazing pieces of software. It was an award-winner in our last week’s show, the annual PreneurCast Awards, which we suggest you check out.

But yeah, Xero is a great software for managing your accounting and bits and pieces. It’s a bit of a boring kind of topic generally, but they do make it beautiful, which you’ll understand that link as you listen to the conversation with Penny. They did some stuff recently, which I wasn’t a fan of and couldn’t really justify in our direct-response, Preneur-style marketing approach to business.

I called them out on it on a blog post. Then their CEO saw that blog post, reached out to me on Twitter, very politely said, “Well, actually, we’re tracking it because it’s different to what we normally do as well. It was successful.” I said, okay, come on, let’s go, prove it. Let’s duke it out on an episode of PreneurCast. And he handballed that responsibility to Penny who is their marketing manager.

And yeah, we had a big conversation about how they are going about marketing their business. They’re doing an exceptionally good job because their share price or their stock price is up 300% or 400% in the last 12 months. They’re absolutely killing it on some level. It’s interesting to see how they’re marketing their software, how they’re taking a slightly different approach to reaching the end users through partners and the network, as opposed to direct to the user itself. It’s a very cool conversation touching on a whole bunch of stuff that I think we can all take away and think about how we can apply this in our own business and our own projects.

Dom:                         Just before we hand over to that, because it is a really interesting perspective on marketing in their particular situation, I think it’s applicable (we’ll talk about it later). But one thing I will emphasize with this is even though Xero is a small-business accounting package, by Penny’s own admission, she’s not an accountant. There’s barely a mention of credits and debits. This is an all-marketing conversation.

Pete:                         Yes, very true.

Dom:                         Cool. With that, folks, again, loads of value in this. So listen carefully as Pete talks to Penny from Xero software.

[Pete’s conversation with Penny Elmslie starts]

Pete:                         Penny, thank you so much for joining us. Really appreciate it.

Penny Elmslie:      Thanks, Pete. Good to be here.

Pete:                         As I mentioned earlier in the introduction, this conversation came out of me publicly berating Xero. So, I really appreciate you taking the time. What happened was, Xero Personal is one of the product suites that you’ve had at Xero for people to manage their personal finances, which I love and use myself, and is the main core element of Xero for a number of businesses and projects that I’m involved with. When Xero announced that you were going to cancel the Personal element of the product suite, I got disappointed and wrote a blog post about alternatives after doing some investigation and speaking with people I knew.

As the introduction of that blog post started, I had a bit of a go at Xero’s marketing team about street posters that you guys did around Melbourne. Now, a lot of people are probably familiar, particularly if you’re in Melbourne, one of the really cool cultural things I find about Melbourne as a city is the street posters that have been a thing, a staple of particularly the music scene here. It is quite prevalent. Bands and theater shows do a lot of street posters and put them all around Melbourne.

You guys did a campaign with that, which is very rare to see — a business doing a campaign like that. I thought it was ballsy and good. But the ads were like just a green poster that had doors open, then the Xero logo. No call to action, no conversation about what Xero was. I was very bemused about why you would do that if you can’t really necessarily track it with no clear call to action. I’m very much a direct response-type guy.

What I loved was the CEO, Rod [Drury], saw my post on Twitter (with some good social media management, no doubt), saw the tweet about the post, read the post, and tweeted me back saying that the local campaigns have performed very well, that it was not a natural thing for you to do so you monitored them closely. I thought it was amazing for him to reach out — know that the post was up there, reach out and give me some feedback, and then through a bit of conversation, suggested that he probably wasn’t the best person to speak about the marketing of Xero, and just talked about what you guys were doing in general.

I think a lot of other stuff you do is really smart. Before we go into the smart stuff, put me back in my box. Tell me to shut up and tell me how this street campaign actually worked really well.

Penny:                      Aww. First of all, thanks to that nice little wrap-up. Essentially, that was just one element of our Do Beautiful Business campaign that we launched in September of last year, 2013. We’ve always promoted ourselves directly to our partners, which are accountants and bookkeepers. That’s been always our clear marketing strategy of promoting ourselves to the channel, and then the channel would then promote themselves to the clients, as in the end users.

One of the things that Xero recognized and obviously we are a fast-paced business, we recognized, and mainly from our partners, they said if our clients, as in the end users, knew more about Xero or even just heard of Xero, half our job would be done. Our partners told us that they really just needed that people understood A) what Xero was, had heard of them — Xero with an X, and B) what do they do. Then they will then be able to talk to their clients as their financial advisers about their product, and why it would work for them, and how it would work together.

So, it really was a response to that. We went out to the market for the very first time, to the end user. We recognized that the first thing we needed to do was to say hello and introduce ourselves. The campaign, which is what we’ve called Phase One, and there are other stages of the campaign which we’re about to roll out, we called the first stage Hello World. It was very much ‘we are Xero.’ The campaign line was Do Beautiful Business because we recognize that people go into small business because they’re passionate about something. They love making pots, they love baking bread, they love making coffee. They’re financial or insurance experts, etcetera. They don’t go into business because they love accounting software.

We enable you to do beautiful business, get on with your business, and we’ll provide a software to you that will actually let you do it and move on — make, sell, or bake. That’s where the tagline came out of. Then the other layer of the campaign as well is, as you’ve already said, Xero is quite different in the way we do things. Although we wanted an above-line campaign, and we used the traditional radio, print, local print, billboards, digital, SEO, we wanted to do something unexpected. And the unexpected was those what I call the rock street posters.

That’s how they came about. That’s pretty well the way we approach all our marketing, is where wouldn’t you expect accounting software and why are we different? Really, that’s our point of difference, is that we are different. Thus, the street posters came from that. They’re quite a small element of an integrated campaign, but they probably got the most amount of social media attention. And I think, as you say, it was because they were, ‘wow, I’m expecting a band poster, and there I’ve got an accounting software. Who would have thought?’ They were good, and we will continue to do stuff like that, going forward. A slight bit of a twist. But yeah, no, we love them.

Pete:                         Very cool. I think in that context, I can see how it works. I love to give people context as well. As you said, you go through a channel, which is the accountants and the financial planners. I would be guessing that your major competitors are MYOB.

Penny:                      In Australia, yes.

Pete:                         Definitely, so. Mint in the US. You’re a New Zealand-based company originally, is that right?

Penny:                      We are, we are. We’ve got offices in New Zealand as a region, and our global office is based in Wellington. We’re in the UK, the US, and Australia. Then we have this other division called Rest of World, and that picks up all the others. I think it was New Zealand and the UK, and Australia was the third region.

Pete:                         Cool. So primarily, and this is what it sounds like from what you said (and please again, correct me if I’m wrong – you’ve put me in my box and my place a lot in this conversation, I think, which is different and good), unlike most of your competitors, you have gone very strategically after the person who controls the end user’s mind when it comes to their finances.

Most small businesses, as you said, they love baking bread, they love fixing cars, they don’t like accounting. So they put all that stuff in a shoebox and annoy the hell out of their accountant or financial planner once a quarter when their BAS is due or their reporting is due. I think by getting those people, those influencers — the accountants and the financial planners to then push on to there, and users saying, “Hey, use Xero. Go and sign up for Xero through us, and it’ll make our lives easier. We’ll be able to do better reporting for you, we’ll be able to do it cheaper for you, we’ll be able to give you better support.” That has been a very smart play on your behalf. You are getting a trusted adviser to almost make the sale for you.

Penny:                      Yeah, it works both ways. Because for the accountant as well, they don’t want to do a lot of that boring stuff as well. The software does the boring stuff, and then the accountants and bookkeepers and advisers, they can get on to advising their clients so they really do add value. It takes that whole layer of admin and tedious time-wasting, number-crunching that both parties don’t want to do but need to do, and give some real-time reporting where they can make real-time decisions that help the business grow.

Pete:                         Yeah, which is very smart. So the campaign you just did with the rock posters and the Phase One saying hello, fundamentally sounds like to really support those salespeople, which is what they are in a quasi sort of way — the financial planners and the accountants. When they are talking to this person about Xero, the end user is not going, “I want to use MYOB because I know what MYOB is. I’ve never heard of this Xero thing. I don’t trust it.” From that perspective, it’s making their job a lot easier to push Xero stronger and have less resistance, which is very smart.

Penny:                      Through the Phase One of the campaign, we spoke to our partners a lot to say how can they leverage the campaign, how is it working for them, and they loved it. Because it really did just make their jobs easier. That’s always been Xero’s priority — to support our partners and help them grow. That ultimately helps the whole ecosystem grow.

Pete:                         From that perspective, if we take away trying to sell it to the end user, which is where we started because of my rant about the street posters, what do you guys actually do from a marketing perspective? A lot of people who listen to our show have a channel underneath them, and sell through a channel. It’s very little spoken about in the world of marketing, about dealing and selling through a channel. What do you guys do around that? That’s something that really intrigues me, and I know you’ve done it very well because your stock price is up 200% to 300% last year. So you’re doing something right somewhere.

Penny:                      Channel marketing? Yeah, I can’t take credit for all that stuff.

Pete:                         You’re Head of Marketing. Marketing drives everything. Just take the credit.

Penny:                      That’s right. I’ll take the last six months’ worth. I’m just trying to remember the question now. We’ve sort of gone off track.

Pete:                         Selling through the channels.

Penny:                      Selling through the channels. It’s not rocket science. We do two things. One of the most important elements of Xero is our face-to-face events. We run continuous introduction events and road shows for our partners to come and learn about Xero, introduce Xero to their practices, or one person in the business might be interested but they need to convert the rest of their team. Every week, I think we run 20 to 30 events across the country. That’s meant for our regionals, anywhere, and then of course we do the double of that online.

The second layer of that is that we really expanded into road shows. We’ve got one in February for our partners. And that’s really anyone on the partner journey, but it’s usually the people who are just introducing their practices into Xero. We call them recruiting Bronze, and we run 20 events in 20 cities in February. We’re nearly at 80% capacity already. I think we’ll touch 5,000 people in the next month. That is partners who then go back to their team to then update what’s going on with the product, what’s coming through, training, particularly the add-on community. That’s probably the biggest opportunity for our partners — all the people that are creating add-on software that integrates with Xero’s platform.

The events is one of the key elements. Then of course we have a really big user conference called Xerocon in every region, which is our Hero event, but that’s very much for people that have come through the journey, and they are 100% Xero every other way.

Pete:                         Is that most of the end users, the actual small-business owners?

Penny:                      Normally just partners. Yep, just partners.

Then the other element of that is that we run quite tactical campaigns for partners every month. It’s small things like we might run free certification training for partners that month. And it is all about pushing partners through the journey. We have a quite clear tier levels of partners. They might just be investigating who Xero is. The second stage is they might have five to 10 of their clients on Xero. Then once you hit 50, 100, 100 plus, you go up the levels. That’s how we track how engaged our partners are.

It really is those two tactical campaigns — direct to partners and events. On top of that, we have built a lot of content marketing to support our partners. As you said before, we recognize that our partners are selling Xero. So that’s probably our priority now, to tool them up and to give them relevant content to give to their small-business clients, give them how to run events, how to market themselves in SEO. We have a whole team dedicated to content marketing, just literally putting out information that our partners can use or give to their clients, and get the credit for.

Pete:                         Very cool. So they can repurpose that information on their own websites or in their own newsletters?

Penny:                      They don’t really repurpose it. They’re so proud of the fact they’re associated with Xero.

Pete:                         They just pass it on.

Penny:                      Yeah, they just pass it on. That to us is success and the fact that they recognize they’re part of the ecosystem. I’ve been with Xero for six months, and it really is an incredibly unique culture where we don’t really consider our people as salespeople or clients. We really do call them, they’re the ecosystem, the community, the partners. They’re all our partners. And together, we’re all benefiting.

Pete:                         It is definitely something that I see from the outside when I look at Xero, it does have a very strong community. There’s the add-on community too, which I want to delve into in a moment. But let me ask you a question about the actual community.

You have the Personal product, which is I how first stumbled into the world of Xero a few years back. I stumbled across Xero. What happened for me, just for a boring story, is that I used to use Quicken as my personal finance solution. When I moved to the Apple Mac platform, it just didn’t quite work well. It’s Windows-based. I had to run an emulator and all that jazz.

So then Xero Personal came along, I was like, ah, this is beautiful. Found that, and from there went, “Let’s move some of our business projects across to Xero from the business perspective.” It makes it beautiful because we’re multi-location businesses, all the amazing stuff that Xero gives.

Then a few months ago, the rug was pulled out from that part of that community. And it makes sense. If the core focus of the business really is about the partners and really structuring that ecosystem, I can understand why you would drop the part of the business which is just creating distractions.

When I consult with clients and work with them, I say let’s start with getting rid of the distractions. That, from your perspective, is exactly what you did very wisely. But from a reputation management, because it was no doubt a reasonable kickback (people who are disappointed), how did you manage that? Was it a conscious management or was it just because people understand where Xero comes from in terms of positioning and its care and its community that they kind of dealt themselves? Did you have to manage that reputation a bit?

Penny:                      We were aware that people were very attached to Xero Personal. We took that as a real compliment as well. It was a conscious decision from Rod and the Board, all the way down, where we had to make the call about where do we direct our ultimate firepower. With also the acknowledgement that through our financial adviser partner channel, private clients could still use the Cashbooks. There was still an option for them that was coming up naturally anyway.

What we’ve done, and we’ve done it a few times, is essentially as soon as we make an announcement, we tell everyone. We’re incredibly transparent. And then we were online for 24 hours from Rod to Chris Ridd, the Managing Director of Australia, to all the product managers, and we respond on time, straightaway to all comments. We feel that’s really important that you don’t hide. That you’re as transparent as possible, and take the good and the bad.

We did change our pricing plans this year in Australia. We went from three prices to seven. The reason we did that is because our business is expanding, the needs of our customers were changing. Some were just very small businesses with one employee up to still small business but they might be a catering company where they had a 100 casual staff on their books. We recognize that there was a pretty broad range, so we changed the plans.

Changing your price can be a massive sort of shift. One area we recognize the backlash that we got for one of the plans. Within 24 hours we said, “We heard you and we’re changing it.” I think that’s what really blown me away by working at Xero. Not only do they listen, but they act and they’re reasonable. And that comes from Rod all the way down. When we communicate out, we watch, we listen, everyone comments. Everyone at Xero has the chance to comment on social. There’s no, ‘you can’t say this, you’re in that level.’ We don’t have receptionists — from the most junior person, all the way up, is allowed to talk about Xero.

Pete:                         Such a great culture to build. It flows through and people can see it. If you’re in that Xero world as a client or a partner, you can see that just come through in a lot of different ways.

Penny:                      Yeah, very genuine, very transparent, listen to the community, act. And that’s the way we’ll continue.

Pete:                         From what I see, going back to the community and how you’ve built that, the biggest piece of the pie it seems that’s been consciously directed has been through the partners that brought on clients. But there’s also the other part which makes Xero so special is because it’s cloud-based. All the add-ons by the integration of Xero with so many other applications, whether you’re looking at doing time management, invoicing, debt collection, billing, payroll. You’ll be able to name them better than me. But I’m guessing like hundreds or so partners?

Penny:                      We’ve got 300 add-on solutions.

Pete:                         Which is fantastic.

Penny:                      And it’s just growing every minute. That’s probably the most exciting part, I would say, about the future of Xero, it’s that add-on ecosystem. I went to my first Xerocon in Australia in August. I was just blown away by the add-on people and partners, and the quality of the products.

But all very similar style of companies. Most of them are start-ups or they have joined Xero at the beginning, and they’ve ridden the ride. They’ve taken their solution from the region to across all the others. They also would integrate with other systems. And that’s the whole point — they should. We don’t want to stop anyone. That’s why we had an open API. The more people can develop a better system, the better.

Pete:                         Absolutely. I would believe they would probably be the biggest driver of just direct sign-up clients as well. Someone going, “I want to use Shoeboxed to manage my receipts,” or, “I want use Vend as my point-of-sale software.” Then going, “I want to use that software,” then falling in love with Vend and then realizing that there’s a better way to manage the backend accounting side. “Oh, let’s move to Xero, away from MYOB or SAP B1,” or something in between. That must have been a big driver as well for sign-ups.

Penny:                      Yeah, it’s definitely a push-pull, and we recognize from both sides. We’re starting to go even beyond accounting software, I think we’re more like a business platform. Because every SME needs a business system. If we provide an open API where not only do they get great accounting software and payroll, which is our expertise, but they can also get the best of the best from others that are a similar culture as Xero.

Pete:                         Which I think is just amazing. You mentioned you’ve got Phase Two and Phase Three coming. I don’t like to let the cat out of the bag, but is there you can actually tell us about what is coming in terms of the marketing plan for Xero?

Penny:                      For Xero, well, I suppose more of the same. We have got a pretty good formula, and advances in Australia is just growing and growing. Australia as a region for Xero is doing really well. So we’re going to set up a nice position where we can do things first, trial them and take, we call it ‘lift and shift,’ where essentially, if it works in Australia, we can regionalize it for the UK and the US, and others.

For SEO and SEM, that is run by the regions, that’s run by global head office. But being an online business, that’s incredibly vital for us. Xero is all about scale. We have the demand. We just need to scale so that we can continue to deliver on that demand. We are growing our teams rapidly. When I joined, there was about 50, and that was back in July in Australia. Now it is, I don’t know, 120 or something. So every week, there’s a new person joining the business. And that’s reflective across all the regions.

We are just building our teams and the skill set within our teams to deliver. There’s really smart people here. It blows me away, the collective brains and what they can do and at the pace that we can do. I think that’s why Xero is working well is that we’re able to punch things out really quickly, quality things. I would say with our marketing wing, we will continue the above-line activity because it does support our partners. It just builds credibility to the SME market that A) You’ve heard of it, and B) I made the right decision.

We starting to shift with the end users. Our whole campaign was actually around what we call Xero Love Tweets, where people have tweeted in talking about how much they love Xero, unprompted by us. It was just gold for marketing. We just amplified the voice of the customer. It’s so easy, but simple is best in my opinion with those sorts of things.

Probably any other thing that you’ll see a change, and that’s all reflective in the fact that our brand awareness is getting stronger, it will start to have a bigger, stronger presence in tier-one media, tier-one sponsorships and things like that. We want to get to the point where we’re giving back to the community. I suppose that was a lesson that I had to learn when I came to Xero. It wasn’t about us, it was about them.

The design guys — Xero lives and breathes design, kept drumming that in, saying don’t shout. The way that we bought our media and we continue to do it is we will never have a corporate billboard at the airport looking down on the freeway. We’ll always have a street-level poster in Chapel Street. We’ll never have the big corporate tent at the Australian Open. We might have a sponsor, the tennis balls or the water boys or something like that. It’s a very genuine strategy. But as a marketer, I really had to learn that it wasn’t about us, it was about them.

Pete:                         I like that. That emulates what’s happening. People are going to be more willing to tweet and talk about you socially if it is about them. They talk about themselves as opposed to feeling like they’re supporting some big company that doesn’t care. They’re just about the boardroom and the bottom line.

Penny:                      That’s right. And right back to Do Beautiful Business. If you’re doing beautiful business, well, then we’re doing okay.

Pete:                         Very cool. Well, Penny, thank you so much for your time. I think for a lot of people, it’s was a treat to see me put back in my box a little bit. Congratulations on what you’ve been doing too. Because Xero, as I said, we’re using in all of our projects. I love it. I did find it strange that you’re doing some of the stuff you’re doing. But in the context of how you structure and where it fits, I can see how it can support and help people make their jobs a little bit easy, which are the partners bringing new clients.

Penny:                      That’s right. If you don’t take a risk, what’s the point?

Pete:                         Absolutely.

Penny:                      Yeah, I agree. Pete, thanks for talking to me. I appreciate the chance to talk about Xero. It’s a topic that I love. I’m more than happy to talk to your audience in the future.

Pete:                         Beautiful. Thank you very much. If you want to reach out to Xero with tweets and things like that, what’s the best way to interact with you guys?

Penny:                      We’re prolific on Facebook and LinkedIn, and on Twitter.

Pete:                         So it’s just what, @Xero? X-E-R-O for Twitter.

Penny:                      @Xero, that’s right. Xero with an X, yep.

Pete:                         Facebook’s Xero.Accounting, so Facebook.com/Xero.Accounting?

Penny:                      That’s right. And then LinkedIn. Definitely Facebook and Twitter are the probably the easiest channels. We’ve got a Xero community for both our partners and for end users. And just the Xero website. There’s a lot of information on that for small-business guides. We just put up eight small-business guides, which are really fantastic. How to manage your Cashbooks, how to do invoicing, how to get paid on time, that sort of stuff.

We’ve committed to doing four months going forward. So, there are a lot of good content and video, lot of video content that we encourage our small-business customers to look at to help them.

Pete:                         Beautiful. There is a lot of homework people have to do on the back of this. I do encourage people to check it out. If you’re running a business and you get into that point — sounds like a bit of an ad for Xero, but I’m not an affiliate, I’m not a partner. I’m just a client, and I really do believe in what you guys do.

Penny:                      Thank you. Appreciate it.

[Pete’s conversation with Penny ends]

Dom:                         I thought you came out of that quite well, Pete, considering you basically called them a bunch of idiots.

Pete:                         Not as many bruises as I was expecting. I think the branding-type approach to marketing is a very controversial one. I still think it’s an interesting approach for them. I can understand how they can justify, absolutely, to support their partners. And sometimes, I think you have to do certain things in business to get the end result, what you’re after, which in this case for Xero is have their partners feel more confident implementing their products.

Also, remember too that the partners who are promoting Xero to the end users are accountants, they’re not marketers. So, they don’t necessarily understand the need for direct response and Preneur-style marketing. They just want to feel that their brand’s got presence. So sometimes you have to do things to meet that market. I think what they’ve done is exactly that. They’ve done it intelligently. It seems to be working exceptionally well for them, so hats off to Xero.

Dom:                         I definitely agree with what you just put there. But what I got from it was first of all, it was amazing that it was the CEO that spotted your comment on Twitter. And you highlighted that, that’s really good social media management, good awareness of his own brand. And they came back very positively and dealt with that, and that was a great thing to identify.

But what I really got from that was the support that they’re giving to their partners. Because they’re in this difficult indirect-selling situation. It really was a little bit of, I hesitate to say ‘master class,’ but definitely there were some really interesting points there about the support that they give, the effort that they put in to helping these people who really are their indirect salesforce.

Penny did actually mention, you say, that these people are not aware of the Preneur-style marketing techniques and things like that. But a lot of the campaigns that they do is to help those partners understand the market themselves. They take it to that extent. They help these financial advisers. And I think there’s a lesson there to anybody who has anything, whether it’s their own salesforce or they have these partners, as Penny called them.

But in the internet space, you have this idea of affiliates — people that go out and promote your products for you. One of the things that’s very often overlooked is supporting that group of people.

Pete:                         Absolutely. If you’re doing a big online launch, you hear about giving material for your affiliates to mail on. But what else can you do beyond that? What else if you have an ongoing, evergreen-type product can you be doing to support your affiliates? Can you be running webinars? Can you be doing guest posts for them? Can you do a whole bunch of other stuff to help them drive traffic to grow their pond, which helps you as well. It’s a very interesting and very smart play.

We deal with that everyday in our telco, in our headset businesses. SimplyHeadsets.com.au, the big headset site that we have, that is driven by selling products for manufacturers. So their whole path to market is through their reseller channel. Yes, they do advertising to promote the brand in a similar sort of way to Xero. But fundamentally, they don’t sell directly to the end user, they sell through people like us. We take that for granted a little bit in that it is our world in the telco space, and a lot of industries are driven like that. It was a really cool conversation. It’s a digital version of that world that I play in every single day.

Dom:                         It’s another example of how one business environment, and the lessons from that, can map to any business. There’s definitely a lot in that brief conversation. But yeah, there was a lot of value in that, real silver lining on that little cloud that you put out there. Excellent.

Folks, every week we try and run a competition where you can win something from the people that we have on the show. As you know, we have a lot of well-known authors on the show. Very often, we have books to give away. But last week’s show was our Awards Show for 2013. And one of the books that we put forward as our Book of the Year, my Book of the Year, was SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham.

If you haven’t got a copy, you can win one. To do that, you need to go to PreneurMarketing.com, and leave us a comment below that episode. That’s the 2013 Marketing Awards episode, the one just before this. We’ll link to that show in the show notes as well, so you can click on that link. Just leave a comment whether or not you’re using any of those things. Or you may even think that we’ve missed something and there was something far more significant in 2013 in the categories for the Awards Show.

Pete:                         Oh, sorry Dom. I cut you off. I was going to say, it’s what excites me — hearing stuff that we don’t know about. We get a lot of e-mails and tweets throughout the year, but it’s the perfect time to say, “No, hang on, guys, this is what I use everyday in my business in my life,” and I love it. Whether it’s a tool, a software service, a piece of tech. Let us know. Because we’re keen to expand our horizons as well through our entire community here.

It’s a great chance, as Dom was about to say. We will choose three of the best comments that we think are useful for the community. Whether you’re saying how you use a current tool, whether you’re talking about the new tool. Whatever it might be. We’ll send you a copy of SPIN Selling. There’s a massive opportunity.

Head over to PreneurMarketing.com, put it in your phone, make some note about it, because it’s an easy way to win a copy of a fantastic book which will no doubt increase your sales and revenue for your business, or your job, throughout 2014. Definitely engage with us and let us know.

Dom:                         Definitely. And on the note of engaging with us, as always, we really do look forward to your feedback. We’ve had some great feedback with that particular show. The comments below that show note. But we really do want to hear from you, folks. And Pete made a really good point. We can learn an awful lot from you. You are out there using stuff everyday. There’s only so many things we can find.

If you’re on our list, you’ll get from Pete the Noise Reduction where Pete gives the stuff that he’s found. But a lot of the times, the things that we find, the things we talk to you about, somebody recommended them to us. You’re our community, and we really want to hear from you. So do leave us a comment below this show on PreneurMarketing.com.

Leave us a little voice note using that thing that’s on the side of the screen on PreneurMarketing.com. We love those. And you may even be featured on the show if you leave us one of those.Or leave us an iTunes comment over on iTunes. Can we now take comments on SoundCloud?

Pete:                         Yes, and on Stitcher as well.

Dom:                         We’re now also on Stitcher. So anyone of those platforms, folks. However you find us, however you’re listening to us, leave us a comment. Join in the conversation. Let us know what you want us to talk about, what you think about what we’re thinking about. And in response to one of the recent comments, Pete, I’m going to stop there.

Pete:                         I think you mentioned a couple of times throughout this episode that some of the feedback has been (I can’t even say the word) constructive criticism about you.

Dom:                         Constructive, yes.

Pete:                         Which is appreciated. And if anyone got some comments about me, let me know. That’s what we’re here for, to improve and to help everyone improve in various ways. With that said, next week’s show is going to be an interesting one.

Dom:                         Yup, it’s ,as we mentioned briefly before, you’ve been working on this consulting sessions with the Preneur Community. You offered your time out there for people for you to give some perspective on their business and marketing issues. You picked up on quite a few common themes during those interviews. We have distilled some of that down into next week’s show. We’re going to be talking about clarity and distraction.

Pete:                         It’s going to be interesting. Because yeah, as you just alluded to, it’s been interesting. I’ve really enjoyed the start of this year, speaking to a lot of people for an hour from the Preneur Community about their business and where they’re heading in the next 12 months, and really helping to get clarity around the 7 Levers of their business, eliminating the distracting projects and really getting clear on what it is they’re trying to achieve and why. That’s been really awesome.

We’re going to o summarize all that, and take away and share the big lessons that I was able to learn myself and provide to the community who jumped on those calls as well. Next week’s show is all about clarity and distraction. Looking forward to recording that one with you, mate.

Dom:                        Great. Well, folks, thanks for listening. We will see you all next week.


Win Stuff!
In honour of the 2013 Awards, we are giving away 3 copies of SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham (one of Dom’s Awards Choices).
To enter this competition, just visit: http://preneurmarketing.com/preneurcast/preneurcast124-2013-awards/ and leave a comment on the post for the awards show. Tell us your vote for any of the categories we listed this year, and feel free to tell us about a something we missed!

Xero Accounting Software – http://www.xero.com
Pete’s Post mentioning Xero’s Ad Campaign – http://preneurmarketing.com/essays/xero-personal-alternatives/
Get Rich Slow – Sarah Riegelhuth
Amazon – http://preneurmarketing.com/getrichslowbook
Whole – Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
Audible – http://preneurmarketing.com/wholeaudio
Amazon – http://preneurmarketing.com/wholebook
You can try out a lot of the books we recommend in audio format with Audible:
http://audibletrial.com/preneurcast – Free trial with a free audiobook download for PreneurCast listeners
Previous PreneurCast Episodes:
Episode 124 – 2013 Awards – http://preneurmarketing.com/preneurcast/preneurcast124-2013-awards/
Episode 121 – No Meat Athlete – http://preneurmarketing.com/preneurcast/preneurcast121-no-meat-athlete-with-matt-frazier/

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