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Microsoft Cloud Champ Partner Shares Secrets of Marketing Success

How does a small regional system integrator (SI) achieve the same designation as Microsoft partners like Dell and CDW in just five short years? Palmetto Technology Group (PTG) based in Greenville, S.C. has made the grade as a Microsoft Tier 3 Cloud Champion and Cloud Accelerate partner with an impressive track record of customer adds. 

Consistent inbound marketing efforts stoke the sales pipeline to keep PTG fueled for continued growth. Over the past two to three years, PTG has enjoyed triple-digit growth riding the adoption of Microsoft's online services.

"Five years ago we started as a regional SI and saw the writing on the wall," said Reed Wilson, owner of PTG, referring to the opportunity in the cloud. "We started with BPOS and now Office 365. Online services represent 60 to 70 percent of the revenue, between Partner of Record fees, implementation and follow-on services."

Earning the designation of Tier 3 Cloud Champion has opened doors for PTG, a challenge for all small partners, within Microsoft. "Being a Cloud Champion shows customers that we are in the top 10 percent of all the Microsoft partners," Wilson said. "But the big value that we get out of it is mindshare inside Microsoft and access to the programmatic benefits, like proof-of-concept and deployment dollars." 

Lead People to the Web Site
So how has PTG gained the momentum to add enough online service customers to earn Microsoft's attention?

"Everything we do is focused on leading people to the website," said Lisa Anderson, owner of Peacock Marketing, a marketing services firm that works very closely with PTG.

The top focus for the PTG marketing efforts is to maintain high placement in search results for common search keywords that prospects are using. "We analyze the Web site data and do extensive SEO research to determine what words are the most popular and how much competition there is for each of those words," Anderson said. "Keyword trends can change drastically within a month. We try to follow the trends and align our marketing around the words."

Additional activities that keep search rankings high include continuous content refreshment on the Web site, regular press releases and social media promotion.

Pinpoint Is No stepchild
Outside of search engine optimization, updating PTG's Microsoft Pinpoint directory listing every month is Anderson's top priority. Pinpoint drives at least 30 percent of the visitors to the PTG Web site, with many converting to leads and opportunities.

"Pinpoint is the red-headed stepchild for partners -- most partners just don't believe in it," Wilson said. "A good 30 percent of our leads are generated directly through Pinpoint and I suspect the actual number is even higher. For example, we got a 2,500-seat opportunity from the other side of the country just last week."

Quality Content
When prospects arrive at PTG's Web site, every variety of content they could want is waiting. Videos -- created by Microsoft, PTG and customers -- are sprinkled throughout the site. Whitepapers on a variety of subjects, graphics, brochures, case studies and a blog all offer education on the current state of IT and cloud solutions.

Interesting to note is the lack of forms on the PTG Web site. Content is open and viewable without prospects having to enter their name and e-mail. "Our approach is that we want the customer to make the right decision and come to us," Wilson said. "If you use forms, you are taking a transactional approach. We take a consultative approach where customers come to us instead of us tracking them down via a form. When they do contact us, they are highly qualified."

Consistent Execution and Refinement
PTG is fueling its growth through consistent inbound marketing that keeps the focus on the needs of the customer. A continual flow of educational content and close monitoring of results keep the leads flowing. The process works and provides a great formula for any partner to follow.

How are you building pipeline? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share the knowledge.   

Posted by Barb Levisay on March 27, 2013 at 11:57 AM


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