How we sold hosting in Europe
I had a chance to work as a marketer in a hosting company in the Western market. I won’t tell you all the nuances, and I don’t know everything, for sure there were moments hidden from employees, but I’ll tell you how the business was built and about the peculiarities of the mentality of some European countries.
In Europe, decision-making is somewhat different than in Russia. This is largely due, firstly, to the peculiarity of thinking, to the fact that our values differ or have a different degree of influence on decision-making, and secondly, to the level of development of the economy as a whole.
You can write a million articles about the difference in the worldview of a European and a Russian, that they are open in public, they smile, we are outwardly gloomy, but our soul is wide, that they do not appreciate pompous beauty, which can only boast, but they are primarily interested in functionality, and if we talk about people, then inner beauty is more valuable to them. Therefore, if you sell hosting, then certainly not by our methods.
The hosting market in this damned foreign country, as my programming teacher said, was distributed a long time ago, and then redistributed again. As has already been written many times, including here, poking around there is a lost cause, 90% that you will burn out, some have tried and described their experience in detail. But we did not look for simple ways and were not afraid. Armed with the knowledge and courage inherent only in fools, they opened offices in some countries, planted local sellers there, with knowledge of the language. It was very important.
We worked in Portugal, launched advertising, and the one who processed the applications told us, guys, but you can make sure that there are no applications from Portuguese-Brazilians (visitors from Brazil), they don’t buy anything, they need everything and for free, and leads, by the way, were expensive in this region. Plus, their languages differ, and, as we later found out, they differ significantly. We even wanted to strengthen ourselves through contextual advertising, we contacted eLama, they told us we can make advertising, but only in Brazilian Portuguese. A curtain. Now, perhaps, something has changed and the guys found a contextologist who speaks exactly Portuguese-Portuguese, as we called it, or, as Wikipedia writes, European Portuguese, but at that time it was like that. This once again confirmed the great difference in the nuances of one Portuguese language. After all, again, if you believe the same Wikipedia, then the differences look the same as in British and American English, which can only mean one thing, the difference is insignificant, but for advertising it doesn’t exist at all. In reality, everything turned out to be wrong, and we were convinced of this. In fact, it was not possible to target only European Portuguese, and the Facebook (a) settings, where such groups were designated separately, did not guarantee the correct selection. A lead cost from $6, which is not so expensive in the field, but provided that there were too many “empty” leads, up to 80%, to put it mildly, it was unprofitable. Another Portuguese feature was – slowness, that’s who is in no hurry anywhere, they agree on everything, we will do everything, yes, of course, and so a month passes, the second …
Actually, the essence of the business was what. Europeans don’t really care if you are a very cool, developing company, and even if you are really the best in the whole market, if you have the best equipment, the most convenient admin panel, the best technical support in the world, it’s not there at all for them. They are not interested. They need a history of your creation, development and degree of reliability. They will prefer a company with many years of experience, in which all the parameters will be worse than you – an upstart. Knowing this, and also the fact that the market is not the most growing, or rather, not everywhere, we understood that we still need to work with new clients, because poaching someone, oh, what a thankless task, and the market, do not forget, is overheated cool offers, wild discounts. And we began to create websites – for free. But the condition for free is the purchase of our hosting from a year. Before deciding on this direction, we tried many options, and seo, where we promised that if we transfer your site to our hosting, it will work faster, which was true, but, faced with technical difficulties in transferring, we closed the shop, the time costs did not cover the costs. We offered marketing, in which we were already highly pumped, but it was also a road to nowhere, there are no guarantees that someone’s business will become more successful, the key word is “someone”, in fact, any marketing is close work with a client, where it is necessary not only to launch advertising, but also to work on product delivery, quality and other characteristics, where hosting is sometimes one-tenth of success, the site will fly, but the services offered on it may simply not be needed by anyone for various reasons. It’s just that in such situations we find ourselves in the common territory of business owners, salespeople and other participants in the process, where everyone is sure that poor sales are the fault of another department. Not at all like the path of a successful hosting company. We have given up on this as well. But what really worked is free sites. To do this, we hired a department of novice designers who were just starting their journey and working on a portfolio, learning, so to speak, another craft, we did it in Belarus, where there are very competent guys in this area and the prices for their services are quite affordable compared to European. Let’s move on to mentality.
How to conquer the Irish. There is practically no chance. We have been collecting applications for a long time, but could not understand why no one picks up the phone when our manager calls back. Everything turned out to be simple, using phones during work is either a bad tone or simply forbidden, unless, of course, this is part of your work, and if it is part, then they only call on business. And at about 18.00, the Irish get enough sleep on the street, after a hard day, sit down in the first place they come across, sometimes on the sidewalk or lawn, more often in a cafe, and chat. To understand this, I had to find a person who lived in Dublin for 10 years, ask him about everything and accidentally find out such a feature. OK, we started running ads on messengers, and, hallelujah, the answers began to come! But we didn’t have to rejoice for long, the locals would not order something in third world countries or even in European countries that were not the most prosperous, but we didn’t plan to open an office in Ireland. This is a very specific people who extremely do not trust someone from somewhere, here the Irishman has a neighbor who makes crooked sites with his left hand, he will turn to him, so what, which is bad, for his purposes – will do, but his own , right next to it.
With the Poles, too, not everything immediately became good. Maybe because of the oversaturation of advertising, or the so-called banner blindness, they simply did not react, or did it very rarely. I was looking for success for a very long time, studied the specifics of advertising, needs, talked with locals, I could not find a direct answer, the reasons were very vague, well, maybe the wrong target, the wrong message, they told me, maybe no one needs … And that’s only after when I suddenly realized that all Poles love their city very much and want to hear a proposal addressed not to everyone in a row, but specifically to him, things started to go. Just, for example, Italians are also like that, and they shout about it everywhere, there is no limit to their pride from the fact that they are Italians! In Poland, these feelings are hidden, why? Maybe because Poland is not Italy, or it’s not customary to show your love at all, such a character. And thanks to very narrowly targeted advertising, literally targeted, we were able to receive a huge number of orders.
And Slovaks are not much different from us at all, they like to talk, make sure that you are not lying, they respond well to a sense of humor and are very good-natured. They just can’t pay very much, there isn’t a lot of money, but it’s grace. Oh, and also, God forbid you make a mistake in advertising in Slovak, they perceive it as a personal insult.
Lithuanians. A very advanced country in the field of IT, a huge percentage of all residents is an audience that understands complex Internet products and practically no one has to explain what hosting or a website is, there are a minimum of empty applications. They react quickly, they are able to make decisions quickly, but everything should be very clear, a high-quality contract, if they said that they would call at 15.00, do so, they have a touch of German pedantry, such moments increase their confidence. And it’s difficult to talk to them, like sometimes Russians, to visit noodles, to chat, to persuade, these people know how to say harshly “no”.
Latvians. We perceived them as well as the Lithuanians, and this was our mistake. It would seem that similar languages, mentality, live side by side, understand each other, what’s the problem? It turned out not. Firstly, the IT sector is much less developed, just some inverse proportionality, if in Lithuania the audience increased, then in Latvia it decreased, and secondly, they do not have this excitement, to learn something, comprehend, do it faster, organize , in any case, according to our observations, yes, it’s not a lot of money, but they won’t change anything much, for them the risks are more expensive than stability, they won’t chase the pie in the sky. Therefore, our office in Riga did not pay off very much.
In addition to Europe, we opened a direction in Russia, an office in Yekaterinburg. It didn’t end well. Employees stole the base, and later someone took out the equipment. To understand on steel, but they didn’t climb into Russia anymore.
In Belarus, everything was relatively stable, quiet, one might say – applications, clients, everyone needs everything quickly, although there were no so many dissatisfaction as the Belarusians had anywhere else. Just a little, immediately to us, it doesn’t work, it’s not like that, although often you just had to sit down and figure it out yourself. It took a lot of time for such nuances, otherwise we were without complaints, customers kept their word if they promised something, paid regularly, sometimes with a delay, thought quickly.
These are far from all the nuances and features of the promotion, but the most interesting things are outlined. From the conclusions, it can be said unequivocally that it is necessary to study the market from all sides before going on the attack, and this applies not only to hosting, but also to any other services.