Spiceworks adds Facebook-like pages

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Spiceworks, founded in 2006, develops network and inventory management software for IT managers at small and midsize businesses. IT professionals download the software for free, and Spiceworks makes money selling advertising and other marketing programs to technology companies.

Spiceworks also hosts an active community of more than 1.3 million users. The company recently introduced Vendor Pages, which Spiceworks CMO Jay Hallberg compared to Facebook pages. Digital Directions recently spoke with Hallberg about the strategy.

Digital Directions: How did the idea for Vendor Pages come about?

Jay Hallberg: The idea first got floated four or five months ago. Vendors were doing a lot of things with Spiceworks—running ads, hosting webinars, sharing plug-ins with Spiceworks users—but there was no vendor directory or any central place an IT Pro could go to find everything [about a vendor or technology]. Someone on our development team used the brand pages on Facebook as a metaphor for what we needed and we had a moment of “Eureka! That's it.” Since we are a software company, it only took us three or four months to put together the technology. At the same time, we were figuring out how to package and market the pages.

DD:What does it cost to have a Vendor Page on Spiceworks?

Hallberg: The basic page is free. This gives a vendor a presence and some basic functionality. The next step up is called Pro level, which is priced at $1,000 month. With that, you can have multiple employees participating in the community who can post, curate conversations and create interest that will get IT pros to become followers. Pro-level vendors can customize the page to their hearts' content using HTML. With our top advertising clients, we will do the customization as part of their programs.

DD:So there are only two price levels, free and $1,000?

Hallberg: Yes. We wanted to make it very simple. Previously, the lowest amount anyone could spend to advertise in Spiceworks was on the order of $5,000 per month. We did have lower prices for advertising but, because we were selling out of inventory, it was hard for us to get to advertisers who weren't spending at that level. We think most tech companies can afford $1,000 per month, and many of those will also be able to place some advertising to drive people to the Vendor Page.

DD:You said your salespeople were stretched. How are you solving that problem?

Hallberg: Vendors can set up and pay for the Pro pages by themselves in our system and we will be adding a self-service advertising platform over the next two to three months. We've also augmented our sales team so that we now have people exclusively focused on Vendor Pages; they can pick up the follow-on ad sales.

DD:What enhancements do you plan to add in the near future?

Hallberg: We're adding analytics within the next month so that vendors can track various metrics over time and do some comparisons against their competitors. We're also working on “findability” and “shareability” of the Vendor Pages, to make them more obvious to people using the [Spiceworks software] application. We have had a separate service directory within Spiceworks, but we are working on merging that with the vendor directory. I expect we'll have that over the next two to three months. We add new features to Spiceworks every 30 days, so we will continually have new releases with additional capabilities.

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