The History of How the ERP Software Blog Actually Got Started

Anya Ciecierski & Dave Foreman on the third time we met in person. (Winter 2014)

Anya Ciecierski & Dave Foreman on the third time we met in person. (Winter 2014)

“Can you imagine if we actually got one member in every state?”

I clearly remember sitting in our kitchen and asking my husband that question just before the ERP Software Blog launched in June 2009. Fast forward 6 years later and we have over 150 members across several sites that are the most popular ERP and CRM group blogs, not just in our channel, but on the web.

But let’s go back to when it all began.

I started working the Dynamics channel in 1999 and have been the Director of Marketing at CAL Business Solutions, a Microsoft Dynamics GP partner, since 2005. Early in 2009 I came home from a Microsoft event and told my SEO consultant, Dave Foreman from Interactive Limited, that CAL Business Solutions needed a blog.

I told Dave, “I am not even really sure what a blog is, but Microsoft says we need one because that is the next big thing for our channel.”

Dave, in his always-honest-never-sugarcoat-it way, told me, “CAL is too small. You don’t have enough resources. Who is going to write for it, who is going to link to it?  A blog might be good for your ego, but it won’t bring you any leads.”

Then he said the one sentence that changed both of our lives forever…..

“Now if you had a bunch of partners all contributing content and links, that could be a very powerful blog.”

I thought to myself, “Well, I have been in this channel a very long time; I know a lot of partners.”

And that was how the idea of a group blog site was born.

I spoke with the owner of CAL Business Solutions first, and he gave me his blessing but felt this project was something I should do on my own. So Dave Foreman and I drew up contracts and became business partners.  At this point we hadn’t even met each other in person. Even now, we have only been in the same room three times – only possible with modern technology!

Pitching the Idea to Microsoft

Then I approached my contacts on the Microsoft Dynamics marketing team to pitch the idea. I am eternally grateful to Allison Dawson and Rich Miller (who have both since left Microsoft) who offered their support. They gave us a small amount of seed money to get the site built and promoted the site with their “stamp of approval” to the partner channel. Without them Dave and I might have given up at the enormity of the task.

In fact, Rich Miller was the one to come up with the idea of the Quick Quote tool. He felt buyers wanted a price calculator tool for Microsoft Dynamics but he would never be able to convince the Microsoft legal department to get it done. So he helped us get it done.

Our Founding Members

At the time blogging was very new in our channel and there were no other group blog sites.  I approached several Dynamics GP partners that I knew and explained our idea. Fourteen companies agreed to join right away. I am still amazed at how visionary these partners were. They could see the potential and were not afraid to take a chance on something new.

Those founding members were: CAL Business Solutions, InterDyn Artis, The Resource Group, Custom Information Services, Premier ComputingSBS Group, Ignify Inc., Technology Management Concepts, The TM Group, The Knaster Technology Group, Borek Business Solutions, OmniVue Business Solutions, ERT Group, McGladrey Inc.

I am happy to say 11 out of the 14 are still members today. This proves to me, more than any other fact, that the site is a success. (check the member list)

Since I am not just Anya, the co-founder, but also Anya, from CAL Business Solutions, I know that our company has seen tremendous benefits from being a member of the ERP Software Blog. I can measure that in SEO, leads, exposure and new partnerships that have come directly to CAL from the site.  This also makes me feel confident about the value we provide and keeps me in touch with what members want.

Expanding to More Blog Sites

Based on the success of the ERP Software Blog, we launched the CRM Software Blog 6 months later in November 2009 and Jeff Foreman joined the "enterprise".  Our latest venture, the ERP Cloud Blog is our first joint blog open to companies outside the Microsoft Dynamics channel(Acumatica, Netsuite, Intacct, SAP partners) and it launched in April 2015.

If someone had told me 6 years ago that I would be running the most popular ERP group blog site on the web I would have thought they were crazy;  but here we are!  The ERP Software Blog alone averages 40,000 visitors a month and has had over 1.5 million visitors since the site launched.

Extra Perks

Because of the ERP/CRM Software Blogs I have had the opportunity to work with so many wonderful Dynamics marketers over the years. I see them at events and it is like we are old friends. We are not competitors, we are all benefiting from “using the power of the group.”

The sites have become so well known that I have gotten some extra perks such as press passes to Microsoft Convergence and opportunities to do joint projects directly with the Dynamics marketing team at Microsoft. That always makes me feel proud.

Reaching My Own Personal Milestone

In December 2014 I reached a personal milestone. For a long time we had more than 50 members and a wait list, but there was always at least one remote state that stubbornly remained empty.  But in that month we officially had one Dynamics ERP partner in every single state at the same time.  

It was a special moment for me to see that specific goal come true. It reminded me that it was okay to dream big and that I should not be afraid to reach for something even when it seems impossible.

What started as just a small idea has truly changed my life and my career and it is something that I am thankful for each and every day.

By Anya Ciecierski, Collaboration Works Marketing

Twitter: @AnyaCWMktg