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As an entrepreneur, you must separate yourself from the “now” in order to get to the desired end result. Click to tweet
Picture this – it’s 2008 and we’re in the midst of one of the greatest recessions in history. And entrepreneur Glenn Grant decides it’s a great time to start a managed cloud services firm to help other entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Wondering how they managed to grow and thrive in such a tough economic climate?
G2 Tech Group, located in the heart of Boston and born in the “Dot Bomb” era, is a thriving tech company dedicated to helping startups succeed and has evolved its marketing strategy to support this mission. Glenn, along with G2’s marketing expert, Jesse Lyons, shares insights on entrepreneurship and inbound marketing success.
In a nutshell, G2 helps startups design, architect and manage their SaaS infrastructures. An Amazon Web Services provider, G2 Tech Group removes the burden of supporting the tech infrastructure so that growth companies can stay focused on … growth! G2’s managed DevOps means that startups can be more productive.
Okay, so what does G2 Tech Group really do? As startups expand and scale, they must be prepared to reliably and securely support the increased volume and workload required of their cloud applications. This requires a technology solution that enables organizations to keep their developers focused on product development rather than devoting attention to up-time related maintenance and reactive support for their SaaS platforms.
As Glenn recounts his early professional experience in IT during the DotCom era, he recalls that everything was a venture–backed startup in Boston with companies lining up for IT support services. But the company he was working for decided to move in a different direction that didn’t really align with his personal goals. So when the bubble burst, Glenn decided to go back to his roots assisting startups and founded G2 Tech Group. He really enjoys the lightning pace and scrappy, “get it done” attitude that permeates the Boston tech startup community.
As G2 grew, so did Glenn’s mission to give back to those who helped him along his entrepreneurial journey. He and his staff have had many, “If I had known then what I know now …” moments. And given that most G2 customers are startups, the team realized that sharing these insights is very important to them, especially if it assists other entrepreneurs in successfully starting and building their businesses. This additional dimension of business support really helps to add value for their startup clients.
In this spirit, G2 Tech Group founded Boston’s Big Idea, a contest that gives entrepreneurs and startups in Massachusetts a chance to showcase their business ideas and get them some assistance in the form of guidance from visionaries in the tech community, financial advice and, yes, some cash.
When we talk about the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs face, there is certainly a lot to consider and most of these involve money. But Glenn believes that, really, it’s about learning how to produce revenue in the short-term while never losing sight of the bigger picture . This involves understanding that you have a vision but coming to terms with the fact that the vision may not be what produces revenue today. As an entrepreneur, you must separate yourself from the “now” in order to get to the desired end result.
He refers to himself as the “bootstrap guy,” who often counsels other entrepreneurs and startups not to take any investment unless their business model calls for it. Glenn feels that many young entrepreneurs often assume that they require outside money but that this assumption is not always correct. By taking things one step at a time, you can retain greater control over your destiny and potentially prolong this position so that at the point when you are ready to take on outside investment – and you are already acquiring customers and generating revenue – you will have more leverage.
If you had asked Glenn about marketing for G2 back in 2009, he would have told you that it was a bit of a “black box” – maybe a little market research, a little PR, and the real mystery of advertising. But once HubSpot came on the scene with the inbound marketing movement, Glenn started to equate marketing efforts with lead generation and measurable results.
For G2 Tech Group, marketing is now all about engaging with their audience, developing influence and delivering value with every interaction. With inbound marketing, you no longer have to be a large company with a massive budget to drive this kind of impact. This has also helped G2 to develop a truly aligned marketing and sales strategy.
Jesse Lyons is G2’s “all-in-one” marketing guy, managing email campaigns, content marketing processes, branding, ad campaigns, social media, and events. And these events have become a huge part of the company’s marketing strategy that helps to drive multi-channel content and engagement.
G2 is involved with at least one event per month, either hosting directly or working with a partner. With participation in the Boston DevOps Meetup Group, the Boston Amazon Web Services Meetup Group and the Ansible Boston Meetup, they are heavily engaged with the Boston tech community. These events present key opportunities for the team to not only meet and engage with potential prospects but they are also able to showcase their company culture and connect with prospective employees.
In order to really capitalize on their marketing investment, Jesse and the team map out events for the year, considering key areas of focus. They meet with their event partners to determine which thought leadership activities will most benefit the target audience and then develop presentations surrounding specific DevOps topics and questions that seem to be top of mind. In this way, G2 sets the stage for open conversation that leads to more meaningful interactions. There are no sales pitches here; it’s all about delivering insights that help tech professionals do their jobs better and further contribute to the startup community at large.
In turn, these presentations enable G2 to generate new and better topics for content development. The topics are used to produce blog posts, white papers and social media content. And what’s refreshing is that this content comes straight from the community; it’s genuine and speaks directly to the audience’s key challenges and questions.
The G2 Tech Group team uses HubSpot as their primary marketing tool as well as their CRM. On the marketing side, they make great use of the platform for analytics, landing pages, forms, emails, social media scheduling, and for monitoring the competition.
The HubSpot CRM then ties everything together to ensure sales and marketing alignment and effectiveness. They are able to gain real insights into lead and prospect activity to determine things like:
G2 also uses Asana for project management. Since everyone can see the tasks at hand and how these are contributing to larger goals, the tool really helps with accountability.
G2’s WordPress website is integrated with their HubSpot account. While this has been in place for more than two years, the team has gotten much better at leveraging this integration over time. Activities like publishing landing pages and tracking key metrics have become much easier and more effective with this in place. And with their recent implementation of the HubSpot CRM, G2 now has a closed-loop reporting system to tie it all together.
The team has had a number of websites over the past few years, with the two most recent sites on WordPress and a Joomla site prior to that. Jesse recalls a hacking incident during which they encountered several IPs in Europe that were trying to “brute force” their login. This translated to hundreds of thousands of connections attempting to force their way onto their web server. It took a lot of work and an outside partner to help bring their website back to a healthy state.
Now that they host the website internally, G2 can easily support the infrastructure but since they are not WordPress experts and need to focus on their own business objectives, they turn to a WordPress support and maintenance company (insert shameless plug – WhatArmy) to ensure that their plugins are patched and up to date, as well as for larger refreshes.
Common elevator conversations go like this:
Them: “So what does G2 Tech Group do?”
Us: “We help startups manage their SaaS infrastructures. We’re also an Amazon Web Services provider.”
Them: “Oh! I love my Amazon Prime account!”
If you’re a technology company, you can probably relate to this challenge. Self-described IT nerds, the team must be conscious of getting too technical. At events, they regularly interact with those to whom Amazon Web Services is a complete unknown whereas others want to know the ins and outs of how they are utilizing DevOps. Thus, they have created multiple tiers of elevator pitches and are constantly working to evolve their messages.
For a company born out of the tech bust, G2 Tech Group has come a long way and much of this is due to their strong ties to Boston’s tech community. By helping other startups and entrepreneurs to recognize their goals – both through the delivery of their managed technology infrastructure services, as well as the strong thought leadership that they are sharing – this team is giving back to the group that helped them get where they are today.