Big Red Media - April 2021



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April 2021 | Volume 2

A Big Red Media Production

Upcoming Channel Events

Letter From The Editor

Big Red Rodeo - IT Sales And Marketing Boot Camp

When: May 11–14, 2021 Where: Rosen Shingle Creek, Orlando, FL

Producers Club Meetings

When: Q2 - July 15–17, 2021 Q3 - Oct. 7–9, 2021 Where: Cool Springs Marriott, Franklin, TN

Spring is here, COVID-19 rates are declining, and nearly ev- eryone is itching to get back to live, in-person events (concerts, sporting events, and IT channel shows!). And with our 14th annual IT Sales And Marketing Boot Camp coming up in just over a month (May 11–14) in Orlando, FL, there’s no better time to start growing and blossoming again in the MSP channel! It wasn’t that long ago that Matt Solomon, the feature story in this month’s issue, was brand-new to the channel and brand-new to our annual Boot Camp. During that first Boot Camp show he attended, Matt came away with a huge appre- ciation for the power of a large, focused MSP show … he came away with literally hundreds of new partners at that first Boot Camp. And I know from firsthand conversations with him that his first Boot Camp dramatically changed the trajectory of ID Agent within the MSP space. They took that momentum and never looked back! As of the time that I’m writing this (early March 2021), we have over 1,000 MSPs registered to attend this year’s Boot Camp (over 600 in person and 500-plus registered to attend virtually). We anticipate that we’ll end up having over 1,000 in person and 2,000-plus watching virtually this year. This year’s event will be a return to live, large MSP in-person shows and the introduction of what you’re going to see as the “new nor- mal” in the industry — true “hybrid” live events with a fully in- teractive virtual experience (thanks to our virtual/hybrid event platform, Big Red Virtual) that blends together all attendees, speakers, and vendors, wherever they are throughout the world. Here’s hoping I’ll be seeing you in person (or virtually) at this year’s event!

Fall IT Sales And Marketing Roadshow

When & Where: Sept. 8–9, 2021 | Washington, DC

Sept. 28–29, 2021| Dallas, TX Oct. 21–22, 2021| Newark, NJ Oct. 28–29, 2021| Chicago, IL Nov. 2–3, 2021| Las Vegas, NV Nov. 17–18, 2021| LIVE Virtual Roadshow!

GlueX 2021: Xpedition MSP


MAY 4 - 5

When: May 4–5, 2021 Where: 100% Virtual

Jeff Johnson Executive Director, Big Red Media

For a complete list of channel events, visit


Big Red Media | A Robin Robins Company

It’s Time To Get Back To Business

In-Person Events Returning This Spring

will be a lot more spread out. Instead of 8–10 people at a table in the main ball- room, you’ll see more like 4–5. Booths won’t be pushed together, so you’ll have a little more room to breathe, and you can expect between 50%–100% more space in general. I’ve noticed that when I’m in a space for a 1,000-person event, it’s actually what would have been in a 2,000-person space 18 months ago. It’s cheaper than it used to be to travel — our flights from Nashville to Orlando cost half what they would have before, and the hotels are $100 cheaper per night. This is good for your business AND for the attendees at large events. It’s more affordable to get out of the office these days, and that means they’ve got more money to spend on you! Of course, for those who are still uncomfortable with the laws, protocols, and safety measures the travel indus- tries have in place, our Orlando Boot Camp event in May will have a virtual component as well. We don’t want anybody to miss out completely. But I can tell you right now, this business is driven by in-person interactions, even if you are both wearing masks! If you’ve been waiting for the right time to come back to events, there’s no time like the present, and things are getting better every week. If you want to learn more about our Orlando event, sign up to attend, or check out the prospectus, visit Together, we’re going to get back to business and the in-person events we all know and love.

making the rounds. Hotels, airlines, and other event-based industries have got their safety and comfort protocols down to a science. That makes sense; it’s been in their best interests to do so, but it’s something a lot of people haven’t thought about. From every employee masked up to the way they’re cleaning private and public spaces, I haven’t felt uncomfortable about my safety at any channel event in a very long time. You’ll see remotes in plastic bags, shields at public food lines, and even new high- tech filters in airplanes that scrub all the air in the cabin every few minutes. At the same time, in-person doesn’t mean impersonal. You won’t need to hide behind a plastic encased booth (un- less you want to) because there’s more room these days than ever. At events like our mid-May Boot Camp in Orlando, you can expect a lot more real estate for the same price. Hotel space is dirt cheap right now, which means instead of cramming everyone together, things

A few years ago, I never would have thought I’d need to remind channel companies that their business is driven by in-person, face-to-face interactions with prospects. Similarly, those interac- tions are critical to continuing to build existing client relationships. And since February 2020, there have been very few good-sized channel events, which means that MSP vendors have sorely been missing out. Ladies and gentle- men, it’s time to get back to busi- ness — to the in-person events we all know and love. Technology Marketing Toolkit has been one of the few companies that did any in-person events last year. In fact, we’ve had 11 events since June 2020, which was just a few months after the start of the pandemic. Those events ranged in attendance from 20 people to 125 and left me with a few big takeaways. First — and most important — we’re not at the beginning of this thing any- more, and I don’t just mean the vaccines


IT Channel Rock Star Profile

Kaseya’s Matt Solomon Talks Security, Streamlining, And Standing Out From The Crowd More Relevant Than Ever

T he first morning that Matt Solomon, the vice president of business development at Kaseya, spent at the 2017 Robin Robins IT Sales And Marketing Boot Camp, he ate breakfast at least three times. “There were just too many great tables to sit at,” he says. “I got up, cleared my plate, and then saw some- one else from the channel I wanted to talk with who was just sitting down!” At the time, Matt was still relatively new to the channel; in more recent years, he’s done the same thing but for different reasons. “Now, I just feel like I know most of the vendors and so it’s sitting down to catch up with other road evangelists like me.” Matt was at that first breakfast as the head of sales for ID Agent, at that time a pioneer in the dark web monitoring space within the MSP industry, and is now part of the Kaseya family of products. But even though the MSP space was relatively new to him, he was just doing the same thing he’d always done in business and sales: “I’m always asking, are there new markets we can grow in? And if so, how can we stand out from the pack when we do?” he says. At that time, MSPs represented a largely untapped market, at least for ID Agent and Matt, who was the compa- ny’s second employee after the com-

when Matt and Kevin were connected with Robin Robins and Technology Marketing Toolkit. After a short phone call to discuss their product, Robin was 100% certain they were on to some- thing and their solution would be huge in the MSP space. Shortly thereafter, Matt and Kevin found themselves in front of a room of 40 MSP leaders during a focus-group session at one of Robin’s quarterly Producers Club peer group meetings. The MSPs in that initial focus group were fired up about the solution and itching to get it in the hands of their clients. This product was revolutionary for the industry! And with that … ID Agent and dark web monitoring as a service in the MSP industry were born. It wasn’t too long after that when an invitation from Robin to that year’s IT Sales And Marketing Boot Camp ap- peared in Matt’s inbox. And that’s how he ended up eating three breakfasts a day all weekend long. Matt quickly learned what worked and what didn’t in the MSP space and also found the people whose jobs seemed like the most fun. “I joked to Kevin that I wanted to be the ‘Rob Rae’ of ID Agent,” he says, referencing Datto’s own road evangelist (and the subject of last month’s profile in this space). The new client base and Matt’s own marketing instincts paid dividends. “By the time we were ac-

pany’s founder, Kevin Lancaster. That makes it pretty funny to hear him say today, “Without our MSP partners, ID Agent is nothing. ID Agent started with our ability to see what corporations had been exposed to on the dark web,” Matt recalls. “They were our clientele, and most of them were Fortune 500 companies.” This was before public data breaches were the stuff of head- lines, back when the dark web wasn’t a household term and people didn’t quite know how dangerous those breach- es could be. “Myspace got breached. Dropbox, too, early on. LinkedIn, same story.” Even if the public wasn’t aware of the risk, Matt and Kevin were, and their initial sales strategy was to pitch ID Agent’s unique approach with mon- itoring and security to companies that had been targeted. At the time, this, too, was an untapped market. Doing business with some of the biggest corporate names in the country may sound exciting, but Matt is quick to point out that there are drawbacks as well. “Our clients were law firms, some of the biggest sports leagues, even state governments. But when you’re after that size of catch, it’s a very slow sales cycle.” The risks of that model are well-known; you’re more dependent on each individual client and more vulnerable if they decide to stop doing business with you. That’s


Big Red Media | A Robin Robins Company

Matt Solomon, presenting on the main stage at the 2019 IT Sales And Marketing Boot Camp in Nashville

so many businesses going remote during the pandemic. And the pandemic isn’t the only current event driving up inter- est in what Kaseya provides, either. “The days of a company the size of LinkedIn getting exposed on the dark web and nobody knowing are over,” Matt says. “We’ve all seen the headlines, and we’re all doing our best to make sure head- lines to come don’t feature MSPs.” Matt is quick to point out that the real lesson here is the value of education — not selling to people’s fears. “We’re always selling through education. My team may not seem super technical to our part- ner MSP — but that’s the point because neither is their customer. It’s just an opportunity right now because people are more willing to learn than ever before.” He says his best partner in this has been Technology Marketing Toolkit itself. “Robin and her team are the best marketers in the channel. They bring in new MSPs constantly — especially the ones looking to grow.” As you might imagine, Matt is eager to return to the channel events we all love, beginning, of course, with this May’s IT Sales And Marketing Boot Camp in Or- lando. But he’s not giving up any insider secrets just yet. When asked what their event strategy is for 2021, you can hear him smiling through the phone. “You’ll just have to come and see.”

events,” he says. “So, how can we be different? We’ve always led the field in terms of thought leadership, so maybe we can share some of that knowledge and help our partners pivot to grow.” The result was last summer’s MSP Growthfest, featuring nonchannel sales experts like Magic Johnson and thou- sands of dollars in cash prizes. “We’ve stuck to that education-first model, and it’s really something that people appre- ciate — a break from the Zoom meetings they’re used to.” “It doesn’t hurt,” he adds, “that Ka- seya’s streamlined approach is becoming more relevant than ever. End users are asking MSPs for multifactor authentica- tion and other features that you’d previ- ously have to push for.” It’s the fallout of

quired into Kaseya, we were up by over 2,000 partners and had grown to 55 em- ployees from the original two,” he says. “Technology Marketing Toolkit, Robin Robins, that first Boot Camp — that stuff totally changed the game for us.” That’s a game Matt continues to play at Kaseya, in a similar role. “Now, instead of just turning people on to ID Agent, I get to rep a family of great services under one brand.” Assisting him is a dedicated events team, each and every one of them hardened salespeople. And he’s still questioning the received wisdom and looking for things that help them stand out in a space full of great companies. “When COVID-19 hit, I saw the writing on the wall; there was going to be a complete overkill of virtual

When COVID-19 hit, I saw the writing on the wall; there was going to be a complete overkill of virtual events,’ he says. ‘So how can we be different? We’ve always led the field in terms of thought leadership, so maybe we can share some of that knowledge and help our partners pivot to grow.


Channel Events Find A Home In Our Virtual/Hybrid Event Platform What The Heck Is BigRedVirtual?

E veryone wants to know what events are going to look like in a post-pandemic future, but as a company that throws the best events in the channel, we couldn’t just ask that question — it was our job to answer it, too. I couldn’t be more ex- cited with our solution: BigRedVirtual, a proprietary online events platform also debuting as a hybrid in-person/ virtual platform during our May 11–14 Boot Camp in Orlando. After running our big annual Boot Camp event last April on a third-party platform, we quickly knew we needed our own software and platform capable of running virtual and hybrid events. The clunkiness of third-party solutions just weren’t going to cut it. We were fortunate in that very few channel companies have more expe- rience than we do when it comes to channel events, virtual or otherwise. We’ve technically been running hybrid events at least four times per year for the last 12 years, utilizing our in-house membership platform. With that expe- rience under our belts, we were able to

creation/setup, real-time reporting, full look and feel customization of events, site updates in real time, a mobile app for hybrid event attendees, interactive video features, and a simple, straight- forward pricing model that fits nearly any channel event. Plus, your sponsors/ exhibitors will love the platform because it allows a ton of customization on their end without your having to do a lot of work, including custom virtual booths. For hybrid events, those booths inter- face seamlessly with the physical booths on the tradeshow floor, which empowers your vendors through real-time feed- back. And security? Multiple industry experts and tech insiders in the channel have told us it’s the safest platform of its kind they’ve ever seen. So, yes — if you’re planning an event, virtual or otherwise, there’s a lot to love about BigRedVirtual. It’s the platform we made to meet all our needs, and I’d bet it will meet all of yours as well. Get started today by requesting a free live demo of the system on our website at

leverage the backbone of that mature software to quickly develop our own fully functional virtual events platform just months later during our 1,500-at- tendee CyberLivecast event in mid-July 2020 and host our first non-Technology Marketing Toolkit event on the plat- form in late August 2020. Unlike many other virtual platforms, BigRedVirtual is built and housed right here in the U.S., with the development team in Pennsylvania and the product and support team in Nashville. And it’s been GDPR-compliant from the start because we recognize that once you go virtual, “regions” become parts of the globe, not parts of the country. BigRedVirtual has now been tested with events in every part of the world, and we couldn’t be happier with the results. Datto’s December 2020 MSP Tech Day event had over 5,000 attendees on three continents, and BigRedVirtual was more than up to the challenge. We also continue to develop a wish list of awesome features that we knew channel events needed, like gamifica- tion, livestreaming, easy vendor booth

Datto’s January 2021 MSP Tech Day on the Big Red Virtual platform


Big Red Media | A Robin Robins Company

‘Iron Cowboy’ Visits Producers Club Q1 Meeting By the time you read this, James Lawerence — the “Iron Cowboy” who completed 50 Iron Man triath- lons in 50 states over the course of 50 days —will be off to break his own record, pushing himself to an unbelievable 100 triathlons in 100 days. You may be aware that an Iron Man is a 2.1-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride, followed by a 26.22-mile run that must be completed within 17 hours. James visited Robin’s Producers Club Q1 meeting earlier this spring and shared his mindset with us: By refusing to quit, you evolve and get stronger. Discipline isn’t about some genetic mutation that allows you to outperform others. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The “average” person can achieve extraordinary things as long as they don’t give up.

humming around us. The skills gap in this country mirrors the income gap, but in the other direction. Reversing that trend is one of the many reasons Mike does the work he does: draw attention to peo- ple whose work leaves them “utterly humbled.” From Bedroom To BeckTek: Scott Beck’s Journey To IT Stardom After high school, Scott Beck got a job working as a DJ for a radio station, but incoming automa- tion soon threatened his job. Seeing the writing on the wall before he could be fired, Scott jumped into the IT side of the field with both feet, hoping to stay relevant. Soon, he discovered a new passion in the IT channel. After more school and working at large tech companies, Beck eventually founded his own firm, BeckTek, because he realized he could do the work he was doing for himself and keep most of the profits as a result. The journey led him to Robin Robins and TMT but also to his local commerce organizations, where he continued to position himself as an IT expert through free workshops for business owners. Since then, his brand has grown, and that’s why his advice for business owners is to position themselves as leaders and always provide value to whoever stops to listen. No Jobs, Or Just No Workers?

One comment on social media lately —”The un- employed can’t find work because there aren’t any jobs right now”— struck me as a little funny. As a business owner who manages to employ dozens of people, experience has taught me the op- posite. There are plenty of jobs, but the responses to those job advertisements indicate the real issue: typos, misread advertisements, and lack of experi- ence. Most applicants appear simply incapable of following instructions. To me, that indicates a lack of skilled or caring workers, not a lack of jobs! If you work hard and have the experience, we’re always hiring. Peripeteia With Mike Rowe For some, it’s possible to coast for 15 years before you figure out what you’re meant to do — brought about by a change in circumstance, or peripeteia, as the Greeks called it — and that was the experience of Mike Rowe, Discovery Channel host and Ford spokesperson, as he wrapped up yet another on-air disaster, much to his mother’s chagrin. Rowe’s programs weren’t about the people that really interested him, people like his grandfa- ther, who could do anything with his hands. A trip to the San Francisco sewers changed all that, and the response — a studio flooded with let- ters and calls inviting Mike to visit other trades- men around the area — changed his life. It also became the first thing he’d done that his mother was truly proud of. Decades later, Mike is still drawing attention to the infrastructure that society tries to make invis- ible, the same infrastructure that keeps daily life

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