Whether you are starting a new business, or launching a new product, the first question you have to ask is, “Who is my market/customer”? Sounds easy, right? Before I get to the part about us completely failing to answer that question correctly, let me give you my two-sentence business pitch: SmartFile (that's us) is a file sharing company designed for business. We offer businesses a secure, branded way to easily send and receive files.
When we started 3 years ago, we believed that IT professionals would be clamoring to use our product. We would make their job a lot easier by putting the administration of users and files in the hands of their users. After spending thousands of dollars, countless hours at tradeshows, Adwords, and even cold calls, we realized that IT professionals were the last group of people that wanted to talk to us… much less pay us money. What we were basically asking them to do was to take yet another part of their job away, and worse yet, take away their “control”.
Despite our faux pas, people still signed up to use our product. As they did, we began to realize these were not IT people, but rather marketing professionals within these organizations; marketing professionals frequently need to send large files to a colleague or an outside person that is too big for email to handle. Whether these customers were part of a two-man enterprise or a Fortune 500 company, they knew the importance of branding every aspect of their business, including their FTP server. After all, they were marketing professionals! And they didn't want to go through all of the red tape (hassle) with their internal IT department to setup and manage their own FTP server. They were under the gun, as many marketing people are, and needed a quick solution to meet their needs. So they did what we all do when we have a problem: type a few keywords into Search and let Google solve it. Thankfully for us, we popped up and told them we could make their lives a little easier.
So a question I get frequently is what makes us different than Dropbox, Box or Google Drive and why do marketing professionals choose us over them? I will start with Dropbox and Google Drive. These are great products, and best of all, they are free! The two main differentiators between them, and us however, are branding and multi-user access. The last thing Dropbox and Google Drive are going to let you do is change their logo and replace it with yours, much less allow you to use your own domain (files.yourdomain.com). If you care about your corporate image as much as me, this simply doesn't work. Secondly, these products are designed for one user. Each user must have an account with them, and then you can share a folder. Try explaining this process to the “layman”; the last thing a marketing person wants to do is become technical support.
With Box, you get multi-user access, reporting, and even branding, which allows you to use your own logo and color scheme; however, they do not offer the option to use your own domain.
The biggest limitation with each of these providers is file size. The largest file you can upload is 2GB. That might sound like a large file, but it's not enough to upload a video or a heavy PowerPoint presentation. With SmartFile you can upload any size file through any browser. For the more technically savvy, we offer full FTP support.
So getting back to who is our customer and how am I market to them? We found out it wasn't a specific gender, age, business, or even department, rather a type of person. These people work in a busy world and are caught between getting it right and most importantly getting it on time. Coming from a marketing background I couldn't think of someone that fits that description better than myself. Who knew?