The ASCII Group: Shannon Mayer’s Top Priorities
Launched in 1984, The ASCII Group is a reseller community for independent MSPs, VARs, and other solution providers. The organization offers a range of marketing, educational and technology programs to help drive partners forward. But what exactly are Mayer’s top priorities at the organization? We gathered answers over email. Here’s a sampling of our conversation.
ChannelE2E: What attracted you to ASCII?
Mayer: I first learned of ASCII when I started working at Datto Inc. Their [ASCII’s] Success Summits were some of my first experiences within the channel. I immediately saw the value in what ASCII was providing their members (and the vendors!) and there was always a palpable excitement at their events that was contagious. I quickly became a huge advocate for ASCII.
Fast forward many years later and I see that the community is thriving more than ever. The overwhelming majority of solution providers who are a part of ASCII, absolutely love ASCII. They love the benefits, they love the networking opportunities, they trust the vendors that support ASCII and they know that the people who work at ASCII have their back and are genuinely trying to help them succeed in their businesses.
Getting the opportunity to work directly with the ASCII community is extremely appealing to me – there are so many great solution providers and vendors that I will get to interface with on a daily basis. I feel I can make a positive contribution and have the opportunity to help the larger community grow, evolve and tackle the challenges of the future. I want to help other people and this role will allow me to do just that.
ChannelE2E: What are some of your first priorities in the role?
Mayer: Immediately, I will be focused on promoting and acquiring sponsorships for a brand new Success Summit that was just announced last month. ASCII is holding its first Success Summit in Toronto, CA this September and it’s very exciting for everyone. Expanding into the Canadian market is something our members have been asking for and we are moving quickly to make that happen.
My main priorities moving forward will be to nurture our current vendor relationships and look for new emerging vendors that would be a good fit for the ASCII members. My goal is to find quality vendors that have great channel programs that our members can leverage to grow. I’ll be on the look-out for new entrants that can provide value to the larger community and help them solve the issues they face.
ChannelE2E: How is ASCII helping partners to evolve for various IT waves (Cloud, IoT, big data, etc.)?
Mayer: ASCII really takes the time to listen to its members. Our member forum has over 3,000 posts a month and is one of the largest IT member forums in the world. We monitor the topics of conversations within the forum and it gives us a really good sense of the challenges solution providers are currently facing. Then ASCII takes that knowledge and goes on the hunt for experts in those areas that can speak at our events, create programs and educate the members on those topics.
We always try to make the content delivered and the vendors that we bring into the community relevant to the various “IT waves” that our industry goes through. This year, security is a huge focus, so one of the keynote speakers for 2016 is actually a fellow ASCII member that went from a single man shop to now over 250 employees and $24M+ in revenue and is primarily focused on selling security services.
ChannelE2E: On the business front, how is ASCII helping partners with the nuts and bolts of business — sales, marketing, etc.?
Mayer: Many people do not realize that ASCII has over 70 programs available to its member base! They have great relationships with distributors and channel vendors that give the group special pricing rates. ASCII has a range of marketing services available to members, from a turnkey monthly eNewsletter to an automated social media posting service. There are also a wide range of business services that ASCII offers such as general liability and business insurance, collections help, preferred shipping rates, credit card processing rates and rebates, sample business and employee agreements and manuals – and the list goes on!