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Sell and Win with the AWS Marketplace

New channels and opportunities to accelerate revenue growth, reduce customer churn and improve the time to value for solutions — that’s what software companies are looking for, right? In this chess match, advancing partnerships with cloud providers is a winning move. At the center of this strategy is co-selling. And fortunately, marketplaces are linked to both driving revenue and meeting customers’ buying needs.

So shouldn’t marketplace adoption be a no-brainer? Yes. But regardless of size, most software companies struggle with getting their first marketplace listing up. Attaching the listing to existing go-to-market (GTM) motions — think product- or ecosystem-led growth — and optimizing the listing to deliver on revenue commitments can also be challenging.

Cloud marketplaces like the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Marketplace are no longer a luxury. They’re a necessity. Let’s dive into why.

The Superpowers of the AWS Marketplace

One of the best ways to reach new customers in target markets is to make listing on the cloud marketplace an integral part of your overall business strategy. And not just any marketplace. Preferably, the AWS Marketplace. Here’s why:

According to Amazon, last year alone, over 325,000 customers subscribed to billions of dollars of software, data and professional services from more than 2,000 sellers. They’re one of the biggest hyperscalers on the planet and an AWS Marketplace listing will pull you closer to them, their ecosystem of channel partners and strategic AWS technologies. And your marketing is optimized for pull dynamics. When your GTM strategy is industry-focused (ie., healthcare, retail, financial services, energy, etc.) you can tap directly into AWS account teams whose sole mission is to serve your joint customers in those sectors.

With an AWS Marketplace listing, you have the earned trust of being backed by AWS.

That means anyone purchasing intrinsically knows that you have met extensive tech requirements before listing and are AWS well-architected and inherently secure. This absolutely strengthens your brand. You’ll notice that the most successful software companies on the AWS Marketplace are highlighting how well-architected they are in their one-pagers, microsites and social campaigns.

Pro tip: Use marketing development funds from AWS to subsidize the development and reach of your co-marketing campaigns.

As of Dec. 31, 2023, AWS has $155 billion in customer commits (an agreement between AWS and an end customer to use or spend on a specific amount of resources or services). Customers know that software solutions on the marketplace are eligible to burn down these commitments. That’s why new and existing customers with pre-allocated funds are eager to purchase your product via the marketplace as a way of strategically spending down their commitments. And why existing customers are renewing larger and larger commitments on AWS.

Skilled software sellers are continually on the hunt for AWS customers with this committed spend to burn. If you like the sound of that, you’ll also appreciate the enhanced dealings that come with an AWS listing. Dealings with over 1,300 channel global partners like CDW and Carahsoft (an AWS public sector distributor that works with a diverse group of AWS certified resellers and managed service providers, delivering full cloud solutions).

Once your organization leans into the AWS Marketplace, get ready to accelerate time to value on your solution and positively impact customer retention. And get excited about garnering larger deal sizes on average than you’ll see if you do inbound marketing by yourself.

Harness the Powers of the AWS Marketplace

Looking for more incentive to list on cloud marketplaces? Potential customers are migrating to the cloud, building on the cloud and procuring their enterprise software  via cloud marketplaces. It’s a growth lever you have to employ to meet your customers where they are.

What’s more, a cloud marketplace is a competitive differentiator. Your competitors are listing on the marketplace. So if you’re not accelerating your product-led growth (PLG) with cloud marketplaces, ask your competitors for a W-2 because you’re working for them.

Remember, a marketplace is where savvy enterprises purchase solutions faster. And where software companies can provide enterprises with a B2C buying experience that elevates their existing PLG motion. The resulting benefits? Customers see value faster, cost per sale drops, sales cycles shrink and deal sizes grow.

Combine a PLG Strategy with a Strong Presence on Cloud Marketplaces

One of the best ways to combat slow economic growth and high inflation is by combining the strengths of both cloud marketplaces and PLG execution. Let’s look at how the two approaches complement each other:

1. Increased Discoverability

Cloud marketplaces like AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform provide a central platform for customers to find and evaluate different solutions. Listing your product here expands its visibility and reach.

2. Low-Friction Trials

These marketplaces offer streamlined deployment processes. This makes it super easy for potential customers to quickly try your product – a key PLG principle.

3. Tight Integration

Marketplaces enable deep integration between your product and the underlying cloud services. And tight integration enhances the overall experience and value prop.

4. Expansion Opportunities

As customers adopt via the marketplace, you can leverage PLG tactics to drive upsells within your existing base. This includes in-app messaging and usage analytics.

5. Flexible Monetization

Built-in billing capabilities allow you to offer pricing models that align with your PLG monetization strategy. We’re talking pay-as-you-go, subscription, etc.

6. Co-Marketing Fuel

Cloud providers amplify your PLG reach and brand awareness through co-marketing and co-selling.

7. Partner Ecosystems

Marketplaces facilitate integration with complementary products and services. This creates solutions that drive further adoption.

All this to say that an AWS Marketplace listing doesn’t just support PLG — it supercharges  it.

Plant Your Flag

Listing your solution on the right cloud marketplace(s) is a game-changer. It opens the door to co-marketing and co-selling. What CMO and CRO wouldn’t want that?

But how do you decide where to plant your flag? When weighing the options, consider these criteria:

Customer base bullseye: Align with the hyperscaler whose customer base mirrors your ideal customer profiles. Whether you’re targeting enterprises, SMBs, specific industries or regions, listing where your customers already live is a no-brainer!

Tech synergy at its finest: If your SaaS deeply integrates with or complements a cloud provider’s services, their marketplace is a natural fit. This will serve as a strong foundation for your Better Together story.

Revenue potential: Analyze the market demand, customer acquisition potential and revenue models across cloud marketplaces. The one (or ones) offering the highest return on investment? That’s your north star.

At the end of the day, this decision is all about strategic evaluation. Where can your SaaS solution gain maximum traction, fuel sustainable growth and scale? Do your homework.

Start Your Cloud Marketplace Journey

Listing your B2B SaaS solution on one or more cloud marketplaces can unlock a world of opportunities. Wondering if it’s the right time to start your cloud marketplace journey? Here are a few telltale signs that it’s time:

Are you fielding a steady stream of inquiries from customers eager to buy and deploy your product on their preferred cloud platform? If your customers are already procuring their enterprise software via the AWS Marketplace and/or their workloads reside there, then meet them where they are.

Have you built integrations with Amazon’s services? Listing on their marketplace can turbocharge these alliances, facilitating joint go-to-market plays and opening doors to cross-selling and bundling opportunities.

It’s NOT the right time to start your cloud marketplace journey if the following milestones have not been achieved:

1. Product Traction

While traction metrics will be modest for a Pre-Seed startup, there should at least be some initial user base or revenue to indicate the product is catching on, because most cloud marketplaces want to see some level of existing adoption.

2. Technical Readiness

As a startup, your product should be relatively stable, secure and ready for provisioning on cloud platforms before attempting a marketplace integration. Immature products may not meet technical requirements. Don’t risk it.

3. Team Capacity

Building and maintaining a marketplace listing requires engineering bandwidth. Unfortunately (but not surprisingly), that’s something that Pre-Seed startups often lack. Initially, it may make more sense to allocate limited technical resources elsewhere.

4. Product Validation

Before investing time and resources into a marketplace listing, your startup should have a validated minimum viable product that has demonstrated demand from real customers. At this early stage, simply having an idea is not enough to justify a listing.

Premature listings put you at risk of wasting effort without a solid product market fit. Do not pass go until you nail down your product market fit!

Now that you know the superpowers of the AWS Cloud Marketplace, how to harness the power of the AWS Marketplace to connect with potential customers, where to plant your flag and when to start your cloud marketplace journey, it’s time to talk about launching an effective listing in AWS Marketplace.

Linchpins in Your AWS Marketplace Listing

While listing on AWS Marketplace may seem complex, you can navigate the intricacies at play by taking the right steps at the right time. And alignment in the executive suite is step one. Once strategy is set, getting your product listed is fairly straightforward.

Building a high performing AWS Marketplace listing requires developing a compelling value proposition that communicates what your offer is and the essential  information needed to find and purchase your product. Without the following linchpins, you’re going to be feeling your way around in the dark:

The Right Team

AWS listing success is a team game. As such, your dream team must include these key roles:

1. Product Manager

A dedicated PM can coordinate the team’s efforts, manage timelines and ensure efficient task completion. The PM should deeply understand your SaaS product, its features, target audience and value prop. They’ll define the listing strategy and ensure alignment with the product roadmap — and their value can’t be overstated.

2. Marketing and Content Specialist

You need a skilled marketer to craft engaging product descriptions, optimize for search visibility and create engaging marketing materials.

3. Technical Lead

A technical expert should focus on working towards seamless integration with AWS services and handle technical documentation.

4. Sales and Customer Success

Involve someone from sales or customer success to provide insights into customer needs, pain points and effective messaging.

5. Legal and Compliance Expert

Having a legal/compliance pro on the team can help navigate complexities around data privacy, intellectual property rights and AWS Marketplace policies.

By assembling a cross-functional team with expertise in product, marketing, technical, sales, legal/compliance and project management, you can create a comprehensive and successful AWS Marketplace listing that meets business AND customer needs.

The Better Together Story

Compelling stories drive customer and seller engagement. That’s what makes your Better Together story another linchpin in your AWS Marketplace listing. For a leg up, follow these key steps to developing and communicating your Better Together story from Day One:

  • Identify the unique value proposition of combining your software with AWS services and infrastructure. Highlight enhanced performance, scalability, security, cost optimization or new features.
  • Emphasize the technical integration and certifications achieved by your organization with AWS. This demonstrates a deep understanding and commitment to a seamless customer experience.
  • Showcase customer success stories. These stories should highlight how your joint solution solved real problems and delivered measurable results like increased efficiency, cost savings or revenue growth.
  • Demonstrate alignment with the AWS well-architected framework principles. This includes operational excellence, security, reliability, performance efficiency and cost optimization.
  • Leverage AWS partner network benefits, such as technical resources, marketing support and GTM initiatives. This is your chance to reinforce your close collaboration with AWS.
  • Develop joint marketing and sales initiatives like co-branded webinars, whitepapers or industry events to reach a broader audience together.
  • Align your messaging with AWS’s core values and vision, such as innovation, customer obsession and sustainability. Here’s your first shot at strengthening the perception of the shared mission.
  • Continuously update and evolve your Better Together story to reflect new integrations, customer successes and market trends, ensuring ongoing relevance in the process.

When it comes to sales enablement, if you don’t train everyone appropriately, don’t expect that anyone will engage with your channel. A lack of seller training will breed contentious conditions in which your sellers sell against the marketplace. Avoid this by making sure your whole team, especially your sales leaders, understand why you’re in the marketplace, how it positively impacts their opportunities, what your Better Together story is and how co-selling drives revenue-generating outcomes.

Your AWS Marketplace Listing: What to Expect

How many leads can you expect for a newly launched AWS Marketplace listing? Nada, none, zip, zilch, zero.

Sorry, but if you actually want leads, you’ll need to do the following (otherwise, carry on):

  • develop consistent content marketing/webinars highlighting your offering;
  • invest in targeted paid advertising campaigns;
  • use the AWS Marketing Central integration for co-marketing;
  • enable sales with battle cards, demo capabilities, etc.; and
  • create a compelling Better Together story.

The AWS Marketplace provides the shop window, but it’s up to you to execute the marketing and sales efforts to drive the foot traffic.

AWS Marketplace Listing: Do’s and Don’ts

By now, you understand that building an effective AWS Marketplace listing for your B2B SaaS product is crucial for reaching a wider audience and driving growth. Here are some key pitfalls to avoid:

Do NOT list your product with insufficient information. Failing to provide detailed and comprehensive information about your product’s features, functionalities and benefits will make it challenging for customers to understand the value proposition.

Do NOT neglect pricing and billing strategies. Offer flexible options like pay-as-you-go or annual subscriptions. And provide clear, transparent billing information.

Do NOT settle for poor listing optimization. AWS Marketplace listings are searchable, so proper optimization with relevant keywords, clear descriptions and compelling visuals is crucial for visibility and discoverability.

Do NOT forget about customer support. DO prioritize customer support by providing reliable and responsive support channels. Documentation, FAQs and direct communication channels are essential for building trust and retaining customers.

Do NOT list it and move on! Avoid inadequate marketing and promotion by using various marketing channels like social media, email campaigns and partner networks to effectively promote your listing.

Do NOT skip the microsite for your product listing!

Here’s what to do to truly captivate your audience, enhance your offering and drive success with a dedicated microsite:

DO provide in-depth descriptions, technical specs and customer success stories on your microsite. This unlocks the full potential of your product with a detailed product showcase.

DO craft a cohesive and professional experience by aligning your microsite’s design, tone and visuals with your brand identity. The result? Your microsite will become a branding and marketing powerhouse, reinforcing your messaging.

DO transform your microsite into a resource treasure trove! As a centralized hub brimming with whitepapers, case studies, tutorials and FAQs, your microsite will empower potential customers with invaluable insights.

DO incorporate lead capture and contact forms to collect valuable leads and facilitate direct communication. In doing so, you’ll nurture prospects through the sales funnel like a true lead generation genius.

DO be an SEO superstar by boosting your online visibility and search engine rankings with a well-crafted microsite. This makes it easier for potential customers to discover your offering.

DO link your microsite to your AWS Marketplace listing. A microsite is an incredible way to give potential customers a personalized experience. Put some thought into your microsite and customers will be sold on the seamless experience they have exploring your product’s offerings.

Your microsite elevates your AWS Marketplace presence. Get ready to captivate your audience and drive qualified leads and sales like never before.

The Takeaway

Product-led growth and cloud marketplace strategies don’t operate independently. They’re interconnected and interdependent in many ways. PLG focuses on using the product itself as the primary acquisition and expansion engine. And cloud marketplaces provide a platform for discoverability and low-friction adoption.

A well-executed PLG motion amplifies the impact of your cloud marketplace presence. And as more users discover and adopt your product frictionlessly via the marketplace, the PLG flywheel spins faster and faster. Cloud marketplaces have built-in billing, co-marketing resources and partner ecosystems that accelerate user acquisition at scale. It’s the rocket fuel your PLG engine needs to truly take off.

The low-friction nature of cloud marketplaces provides an ideal environment for rapidly testing new pricing models, packaging and go-to-market strategies. And ultimately, by integrating data from your PLG analytics with marketplace performance metrics, you gain a holistic view of the customer journey. Armed with this, you can optimize tactics, messaging and product experiences.

Before You Go to Marketplace, Let’s Talk

Now that you know you have to make AWS Marketplace an integral part of your overall business strategy to reach new markets, you need to get from strategy to programmatic execution as quickly as possible… or you’ll never get the return on your investment.

If you’ve never listed on the AWS Marketplace before, don’t risk learning on the fly as you set the listing up. You have to cross the chasm from co-building to co-selling seamlessly, and that’s what Drag37 is here for. We’ll help you speed up the process of getting your listing up and optimized to showcase your product’s value and acquire new customers, faster.

There’s no reason you shouldn’t be successfully selling through AWS Marketplace.

Amin Marts is principal at Drag37, a partner-powered growth accelerator for early-stage B2B SaaS startups.

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