WPC Talk 3/4: WebsiteSpark and it’s impact on Applied Innovations

We were among the first hosts invited to be a part of WebsiteSpark and quickly made WebsiteSpark a core focus for our company because it fit very well with both our business philosophy and model. As a result, Applied Innovations has been leading the hosting industry in sponsored WebsiteSpark enrollments.

WebsiteSpark explained in 60 seconds

If you’re not familiar the WebsiteSpark program it’s a Microsoft program targeted at small web development and design shops and is meant to remove the barriers they’d normally face as a new web development business. This includes:

  1. Free software licenses for 3 years – so they can develop best in class websites using best in class tools, that they normally wouldn’t have the budget to purchase.
  2. Free training and support – so they can get the help they need, when they need it and build best in class websites.
  3. Marketing Leads and Exposure – so they can get customers that need best in class websites.

In return the web professional (web developer or web designer) is required to do the following:

  1. Deploy a new website in a short period of time on a dedicated server, be it a physical server or a virtual dedicated server.
  2. At the end of the 3 year period pay a $100 exit fee.

Why we joined WebsiteSpark as a Hoster

For Applied Innovations, our business has always been about helping businesses grow. Although we have helped businesses of all sizes including major brands like: BMW, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Monster Cable and Verizon Wireless; our core customer has always been the small business and more often than not, they’re just starting out.

We’ve also built a niche in working with web developers and tailoring our solutions to meet the needs of web developers. As you’re already aware we’re very focused on offering managed virtual dedicated hosting offerings on top of Hyper-V and the Dynamic Datacenter Toolkit.

So a program targeting small web development shops (one of our core customer segments) and promoting VPS hosting (one of our core business units) was a program we wanted to be a part of.

What we did to become the leaders

We marketed the hell out of WebsiteSpark! DUH!

  1. We’ve done a local event for a 150 people (and had people travel the entire state to attend) where we introduced them to our company, WebsiteSpark and then our service offerings and had phenomenal response.
  2. We also, replaced some of our banner ads, event sponsorships and in-person events where we’d promote our services and instead promoted WebsiteSpark.
  3. We’ve done a special promotion along side Microsoft, offering these customers a sponsored VPS free of charge for 12 months.
  4. Finally, we’ve supported these customers. We’ve helped them get started, we’ve provided them unique WebsiteSpark discounts and we’ve tried really hard to help them grow.

Building a channel through WebsiteSpark

So yes, these web professionals are our target market and they have to buy a service that’s core to our business. But for us WebsiteSpark is about more than that. We’re actually looking to build a channel through WebsiteSpark!

These development shops that are a part of WebsiteSpark will most likely service a small number of customers in their local area. A market that neither Microsoft nor Applied Innovations and probably even you could really reach.

These developers when they start helping their customers quickly become a one stop shop for their customers, offering web development help as well as front line hosting support, whether they host the website or not.

So if you’re the WebsiteSpark enrolled web professional, why not host the website? 

You’ll benefit in a few ways:

  1. Make additional monthly recurring revenue from your customer
  2. Be able to charge a premium for hosting by bundling in some level of website maintenance service.
  3. Sell them additional monthly services like SEO.
  4. The customer will be more sticky to you and less likely to switch development shops

As the hosting provider we’ll benefit from the Web Professional’s growth.

As this web professional grows his business, he’s going to need to purchase additional servers and services from you. If we’re lucky, he’s going to end up supporting a couple dozen businesses and buying 2-3 servers from you and you’re only going to have to support one customer! We’ll end up selling more services and supporting the same number of customers.  Profits go up.. Support costs remain the same!

And that’s your channel opportunity! We can leverage WebsiteSpark to build a channel of web professionals to help sell our services.   They’ll be targeting their local markets and reaching places that we’re likely not able to reach and they’ll be adding value on the services they’re purchasing from us.  This just screams channel and oh yeah.. there’s another company that has built a business around this same model.. Microsoft!

That’s what WebsiteSpark means to Applied Innovations

So that’s why Applied Innovations has chose to back WebsiteSpark and how we’re successfully leveraging it to build a channel for our business.

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