#LSA19: BIY, DIY, DIFM: Which Model Makes Sense and for Whom?

This panel featured some our industry’s favorite acronyms – Buy-it-Yourself (BIY), Do-it-Yourself (DIY) and Do-it-for-Me (DIFM). As an industry, we’re all trying to help small businesses succeed online, so how can we as technology and service providers best engage with our small business customers and get them more involved in their online presence?

The session was moderated by Neal Polachek from Board Advisors, and the panelists included:

Jillian Als, Head of Marketing & Communication at Mono Solutions

Perry Evans, President at ThriveHive

Todd Renard, VP of Digital Product Management at Vivial

Finding the Sweet Spot

Neal kicked off the panel with a discussion on how to find that sweet spot between product and service. In an ideal world, we’d all have customers that buy the product themselves, install and manage the product – yet you can still charge at least $100 per month. But “This is nirvana, it doesn’t exist,” said Neal. So what were the panelists takes on finding a balance between product and service?


Todd Renard highlighted that all three of the panelists had similar reactions when they first discussed this ‘sweet spot’ with Neal. “It’s a mythical place. I mean who wouldn’t love a low-touch, high-margin product?” Though in reality, he noted it’s a lot more complicated because an SMB may buy the product themselves, but still requires a certain level of service to succeed.

Jillian Als added that because of this, pushing “software-as-a-service” is key to creating a more authentic and guided experience for SMBs to engage with their digital marketing.

Winning Them Over

So how do you win over SMBs? Is it personalization, verticalization or profiling? From Todd’s experience, it wasn’t so much personalization as creating different pre-packaged experiences for different types of businesses. It’s tailoring at scale.

On the other hand, Perry Evans shared that they leverage machine learning for profiling as a way to optimize communications to match their users login patterns. This helped not only drive engagement, but also retention. These techniques could also be used at scale for verticalization, where narrowing or adjusting the vocabulary or even asking more specific questions through questionnaires can help better win over their engagement.

Looking at the Data

Quickly taking a look at the data from a survey of SMBs preferences commissioned by Mono, SMBs were willing to DIY some products. But why?


Todd put forward his theory that it satisfied their need for ‘instant gratification.’ SMBs like the instant gratification of buying a domain, publishing something on their website, posting on social media. But as solutions (such as booking, CRM, reputation management) get more complex, there is less instant gratification.

Jillian noted that many of their channel partners viewed DIY as a lead generation funnel, that segways into a DIFM or even do-it-with-me (DIWM) scenario to meet the needs of business owners that have intent or interest in being involved, but either need guidance or are short on time.

Another interesting data point from the report was that SMBs didn’t like talking to sales reps. Perry backed this up by adding that outbound techniques, like cold calling and marketing qualified leads, are no longer effective and have decreasing conversion rates. SMBs don’t go shopping for software, so we need to take a more data-driven approach to legitimize the sales conversation and focus on acting as a digital adviser, as a way to drive value to the SMB customer.

Looking to the Future

To wrap it up, Neal asked, “Well, what about the future? Will there be any breakthroughs the next three years?” Perry stated, “SMBs need help, but they won’t tell you that. The consensus was that to help them, we need to become their trusted digital adviser, and we need to leverage data, artificial intelligence and machine learning to create an engaging level of service that gets them involved.”

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