Partners Get Inside Track with Deployment Planning Services: Part 1

Unused Software Assurance benefits may not sound like promising opportunity, but some partners are building business by helping customers discover and implement underused assets.

Microsoft's Software Assurance Planning Services are engagements conducted by certified partners to help customers with deployment plans for desktop, server and cloud applications. Underwritten in full or in part by Microsoft as a benefit from the customer's software assurance program, the highly structured engagements are designed to help customers fully deploy the software that they own.

An Inside Track to Enterprise Customers
Deployment Planning Services (DPS) are not a volume marketing opportunity, but provide an inside track to customers who have made a significant investment in Microsoft technology -- most commonly through an Enterprise Agreement (EA). As part of their Software Assurance benefits, EA customers receive points which provide the basis for Microsoft's compensation to certified partners who deliver the DPS.

Currently, there are seven types of planning services that cover a range of Microsoft software deployments, from Windows Azure to Lync to SharePoint (the full list). The bar is set high for partners to participate in the program -- most requiring a silver or gold competency plus specific exam-based certifications. 

The benefit of participation to partners is twofold. The outcome of each DPS engagement is a roadmap for implementation which can translate into a deployment project. Second is the validation that Microsoft trusts your ability so much that it will pay you to advise the customer.

Seeking EA Customers
Since EA clients are most likely to have the Software Assurance points to underwrite a DPS engagement, partners use their contacts with Microsoft sales and LARs to connect with enterprise customers.

Sarah Woodruff, marketing manager with C/D/H, a Michigan-based, multi-gold partner, and the C/D/H sales team work with LARs to identify and educate EA customers.

"We look at what the customer owns, what they haven't deployed and what makes sense for their business. Their company goals and where they want to go." Woodruff said. "Often, customers just don't know that they have these benefits. They purchased an EA for other advantages and we ask them if they aware of the benefits to help them deploy the software they own."

For customers who want to understand the program better, Woodruff has found the videos on Microsoft's Volume Licensing site helpful.    

Open the Door
C/D/H finds the deployment planning services to be a great way to open the door with new clients.

"We encourage new clients to use the services to build our relationship," Woodruff said. "They may not be ready to commit to a $50,000 engagement right away, wanting to 'kick the tires' with us a bit."

While Woodruff does promote deployment planning services through mentions at events and survey questions, she has found that marketing DPS requires more of a one-to-one approach.  

"It makes the most sense to have individual discussions," Woodruff said. "Each customer has unique requirements, so we work with them to uncover what will add the most value to their business." 

Expanded Partnering Opportunities
Next week, we'll find out how one partner uses Deployment Planning Services as part of its joint marketing program with a LAR and training partner.

How are you using Deployment Planning Services to build your business? Add a comment below or e-mail me and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on December 06, 20120 comments

Assessments: A Creative Marketing Approach

Building assessment tools is certainly not new to the Microsoft partner channel, but one partner has simplified the process to a level that may be more effective for reaching prospects. While some partners have great success with the Microsoft-sponsored assessment programs (like the Software Assurance Planning Services), they are not easily explained on a Web site or through a marketing campaign.  

On the other hand, the Cloud Application Assessment recently launched by Hanu Software, an Azure Circle partner headquartered in Princeton, N.J., is simple and delivers a well-defined outcome to the prospect. Targeted at ISVs and companies with custom developed applications, the assessment walks the prospect through a series of questions to recommend a cloud deployment strategy.

The Web-based assessment includes 25 questions presented in five sections, including application characteristics, infrastructure, application data, security requirements and miscellaneous. Assessment questions were developed based on Hanu's experience with previous clients.

After completing the assessment, prospects receive a report via e-mail. The report includes a chart with recommendations prioritizing the cloud or hybrid deployment methods best suited for the application. Included in the report are suggested next steps, which Hanu offers through "packaged" services.

"We want to demystify the cloud and make it extremely easy for clients to assess whether their application is a good fit for the cloud in 10 minutes or less," explained Anil Singh, founder and CEO of Hanu Software. "It's the first step in a systematic process. Based on the results from the online assessment, Enterprises, SMBs and ISVs can determine their best course of action."

The Cloud Application Assessment site includes a FAQ page that provides Hanu an additional opportunity to educate visitors about the cloud. The simple design of the site feels decidedly non-sales-y, setting a good tone as an educational resource.

Assessments as a Marketing Tool
An assessment is a great way to provide value to your prospects and collect information from them at the same time. Hanu is taking knowledge that it has gathered from working with its clients and applying it to benefit prospects. The approach demonstrates Hanu's expertise on the cloud deployment of applications as well as an interest in educating future clients.

The assessment concept can be applied to a wide range of Microsoft partner service offerings. A few examples might be:

  • Remote worker productivity assessment for Office 365.
  • Project team collaboration assessment for SharePoint.
  • Customer service efficiency assessment for Dynamics CRM.
  • Disaster-preparedness assessment for MSPs.

Use your experience working with previous clients to develop the questions. Focus the questions on the common problems that your prospects face. Develop a report that will provide recommendations that are meaningful to the prospect.

Keep the assessment short and simple. Above all, the assessment and the report need to be about your prospect, not about you. Don't let your desire to sell your services outweigh the objective, which is to educate.

Are you using an assessment to market to your prospects? Add a comment below or send me an e-mail and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on November 29, 20120 comments

Cloud Advocacy in Response to Disaster

It's heartbreaking to read stories about the businesses affected by the Hurricane Sandy disaster. Family businesses built over generations were destroyed by rising water and no power. Unfortunately, the cloud can't back up food in the refrigerator, but it can safeguard the digital assets of every business.

The heightened awareness of the devastating results of natural disaster provides an opening to educate your clients and prospects about business continuity. As a cloud expert, you have the opportunity to teach your community about the options they have to protect their businesses.

The Right Approach
While this is definitely an opportune time to hold a disaster-preparedness seminar in your town, tread carefully. You don't want to be seen as a profiteer looking to make a buck off other people's fears. With an educational approach and sincere intent to show business owners the options they have to respond and recover from a disastrous event, you can make a positive impact.

Resources and Ideas
Whether you plan to hold a seminar or execute an e-mail campaign, there is some excellent content in the Disaster Preparedness campaign on Microsoft's Ready-to-Go marketing site. Some specific suggestions to use these resources include:

  • Work with the Microsoft Community Connections program to find a business group in your town that would be interested in a Disaster Preparedness workshop.

  • Launch a Disaster Preparedness e-mail campaign using the e-mail template on the Ready-to-Go site.

  • Post the Disaster Preparedness Guide on your Web site and tell your customers about it in your next newsletter.

To make your message more interesting and compelling, contact a customer whom you have helped overcome an emergency. Ask them to co-present at your seminar or include their story in your marketing campaign. A real story always makes the message more meaningful.

Build Your Status as an Expert
With a sincere approach to help your community prepare for whatever nature throws at it, you can build your status as an expert. Microsoft has built effective, professional tools that you can use to advocate for the benefits of cloud computing. Reach out to your community and a make a difference.

Have you held a disaster-preparedness event? Tell us about it with a comment below or send me an e-mail and let's share the knowledge.


Posted by Barb Levisay on November 15, 20120 comments

Not Marketing Windows 8? What Are You Waiting For?

There are two schools of thought in the partner community on the best approach to marketing during the first wave of a product launch. One is to wait until Microsoft starts getting traction after a product launch and then answer your customer's questions. The other approach is to get in front of the product launch -- training employees and testing beta code -- to ride the Microsoft marketing blitz wave.

While the first approach is less expensive and limits risk, the second can deliver rewards on multiple levels. Obviously, making points with Microsoft is a benefit, but building excitement for your team and your customers sets you apart from the crowd -- which has never been more important.

Driving the Microsoft Agenda
"In the eyes of Microsoft, if you are not driving the agenda with the customer, Microsoft is going to find somebody else that is willing to," said Ric Opal, vice President of Peters & Associates. The Chicago-based multi-gold platform and communications partner with 70 employees is well along on the Windows 8 path. The company was running Windows 8 and the Office 2013 preview bits internally before the Oct. 25 launch event so it would be able to talk to clients based on personal experience.

"We are having roadmap discussions on behalf of Microsoft. Leading the charge and selling the stack. It's been exceptionally successful," Opal added. "If I am retiring field sales quota for Microsoft, I am going to get engagement around delivery and that's where we make our money. The more I make it about Microsoft, the more it winds up being about me."

Investing in Employees
Marketing can have as much effect on your internal team as it can on your customers. The cautious -- those who want to make sure there are no Vista overtones before they start talking about Windows 8 to customers -- don't inspire confidence in employees. 

Most employees, especially the young tech employees you need to grow your business, want to be on the leading edge. Microsoft's Build 2012 developer conference sold out in hours, not days. There is excitement in the channel and your employees want to be a part of it.

Peters & Associates has been in business since 1981 and the average employee has worked there for 10 years -- not the expected profile of an early adopter. But with four Virtual Technology Specialist Program (vTSP) members, Peters & Associates is clearly investing in employee education. And it actively markets the value of those vTSPs to its clients and prospects.  

Microsoft describes the vTSP as a select group chosen from the elite in the partner community whose focus is to augment Microsoft's internal Technology Specialist team. Their primary role is to communicate the value of Microsoft solutions to customers and to provide architectural guidance for enterprise integration solutions.

When asked about the investment in training, Opal responded, "Our field-based technologists can't wait to get the bits. They are excited to stand it up on their own machines or in the lab. We view it as an investment in our value proposition."

Transition from Implementer to Advisor
As partner business models change, the importance of becoming a technology advisor instead of a technology implementer is vital to survival. Leading the conversations about Windows 8 with customers and prospects builds your credentials as an expert.

"We are trying to augment what Microsoft is doing and take advantage of the air cover that is currently in the market," Opal noted. "If they do a Win 8 launch event in Chicago, we will run one in the suburbs for the people who didn't make it to the main launch."

Microsoft's Ready-to-Go marketing site has plenty of materials to get you started educating your customers. Even if you haven't invested in employee training yet or don't hold dedicated events, you can start the conversations.

The Opportunity To Educate
While it's true that most of your clients are going to wait -- maybe even a long time -- to implement Windows 8 and the rest of the products that are releasing this fall, you have the opportunity to be an educator. It's easier to market to the existing demand than to generate new demand. But enthusiasm is catching and your employees and customers may be drawn to competitors who are not afraid to ride the wave.

How are you talking to clients about Windows 8? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share the knowledge.

See Also:

Posted by Barb Levisay on November 08, 20124 comments

Engage Your Prospects with Content Curation

For those partners focused on inbound marketing -- drawing prospects to your Web site with valuable content -- the creation of that content is the biggest challenge. The functional and technical experts in your organization are the ones who have the information worth sharing with prospects, but they don't have the time to write it down. Which is the reason why a new method of building content, called content curation, is gaining popularity.

The idea behind content curation is that there is more information being produced and made available on the Internet than any one person can monitor. By helping to filter and highlight valuable content, you save time for your prospects and build your status as an industry expert.

Most commonly, content curation comes in the form of blog posts that summarize and link to articles posted on the Web. Additional commentary on the original post provides industry context. To promote the curated content, a newsletter with a one- to two-sentence summary of each blog post is sent to prospects.

Focus on the Prospect Profile
Full Quota, an inbound marketing agency serving technology companies, uses content curation to help partners build relationships with prospects. Katheryn Huff, managing editor at Full Quota, described the foundation of content curation this way: "It's all about targeting your buyer. We do the research to define the buyers' issues and then we select content around those topics."

The Full Quota process involves gathering articles, reviewing those articles with the partner's subject-matter expert and writing the curated blog posts. Using Trapit, a site dedicated to searching for articles by topic, the Full Quota team selects a group of articles that will be of interest to the defined prospects. Writers interview the partner subject-matter expert to add industry or technical perspective and then write a blog post to summarize.

Prospect awareness is driven through a program of social media and a weekly newsletter sent to a target list -- all driving to the blog which is hosted on the partner's industry-specific mini-site.

Advice for a Content Curation Program
For partners who take on content curation internally, Huff offered some advice:

  • Be really clear on your target buyer.
  • Content curation takes time and effort. Commit to keeping the cadence and the rhythm going. 
  • Use your technology tools to do the heavy lifting in finding articles to review.

"This is an exciting new field. We're seeing great results," Huff added. "Content curation is a great way for companies to differentiate themselves in the market and build relationships with clients."

A Realistic Approach
Inbound marketing takes commitment to consistently create valuable content. For most partners, committing the resources needed to deliver that consistency is unrealistic. While there is still a significant time commitment involved, content curation is a way to spread the responsibility across limited resources.

How do you find the time to build content? Add a comment below or e-mail me and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on November 01, 20121 comments

3 Important Reasons Partners Should Define Buyer Personas

When it comes to marketing, there seems to be no greater challenge to partners than limiting the target market. The fear of missing any opportunity seems to outweigh the logic of focusing on the market that you serve best -- and ignoring the others.

Mike Michalowicz, author of the new book The Pumpkin Plan, goes so far as to suggest that partners identify their top clients, focus all of their efforts on them and fire the rest. Sounds pretty darn appealing, doesn't it?

If you are not quite ready to take that leap yet, at least focus your marketing efforts on finding more of the best clients that you have. And that is where Buyer Personas come in. "Buyer Persona" is a marketing term for the description of your ideal prospect. More specifically, it is the business profile of the person who is most likely to see the value in the service that you provide -- from what keeps him up at night to his job title to the Web sites he visits.   

3 Reasons Buyer Personas Are Important
By defining your ideal prospect, you are identifying the people who want to work with you. Instead of annoying people who don't need your services, you can deliver a specific message to people who actually might pay attention. With a defined target market, you will:

  • focus your marketing efforts where they will be most effective.
  • lower your cost of sales because you will stop chasing deals you shouldn't win.
  • and perhaps most importantly, add customers that you want to keep.

Buyer Personas Don't Have To Be Complicated
There's lots of advice on the Internet about building Buyer Personas, but it really doesn't need to be a complicated process. Talk to your best clients and recent buyers. Ask them about why and how they make purchase decisions. Your questions should cover:

  • What are their business problems and priorities?
  • What does success look like to them?
  • Where do they get their professional information?

There is some very practical and free guidance worth checking out from Adele Revella at the Buyer Persona Institute. A qualified marketing agency (best to work with one who knows the Microsoft channel) can help you define your buyers, as well.

Document and Focus
While your Buyer Personas don't need to be complicated, they do need to be documented. Every person in your organization should know who you want to do business with. You will build a stronger business if you and your employees are focused on finding a few great clients instead of a bunch of headaches.

Build on Success
If you are still marketing to the masses and chasing anything with a pulse, please reconsider. Build your business on your successes. Spend the time to figure out which of your clients are the best and then focus on getting more of them. You'll make more money and have more fun.

How are you targeting your best clients? Add a comment below or send me an e-mail and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on October 29, 20121 comments

The 'Art' of Real-World Customer Events

Marketing tactics may have evolved to focus more on virtual connections with prospects and customers, but there is no replacement for face-to-face relationship building. In-person events give you the opportunity to have the deeper conversations with customers that build trust and understanding. There is no doubt that in-person events require significant time and effort, but the rewards are worth the investment. 

From technical seminars to catered parties, the goal of the event should inspire the venue and shape the content. A Microsoft store is a great place for a sales-oriented technology launch but a customer appreciation event needs a more creative approach.

A Colorful Venue
Creativity itself became the theme for the recent BlueWave Computing customer appreciation event held at an Atlanta art gallery. An IT managed services provider with 130 employees, BlueWave has earned a place on the Inc 5000 list of fastest-growing companies for the past five years.

"We wanted an event that was both informative and fun," said Steve Vicinanza, founder and CEO of BlueWave. "People don't usually think of art and technology together, but the 'Art of IT' theme for the party came from the play on state-of-the-art and art."

Renting out a renovated warehouse turned avant-garde art gallery, the BlueWave team went all-out in planning the invitation-only event. A jazz band, great food and unique location were designed to thank customers for their business and loyalty.

Offering sponsorships to a limited number of vendors, BlueWave was able to offset some of the costs and give customers an opportunity to talk to vendors directly. "The vendors' financial support enabled us to do more than we could alone," Vicinanza noted. "But on top of that, it became not just a BlueWave event but a technology event with Microsoft, Dell and other vendors lending credibility and a bigger presence."

Connecting with Customers
To promote the "Art of IT" event to customers, BlueWave started early and built buzz and excitement over time. Starting with a professionally designed logo to brand the event, they sent a save-the-date announcement followed by formal invitations.

As the event got closer, account reps talked up the event with clients to encourage them to register. The promotion efforts paid off, drawing over 200 people to the gallery event. Well received by customers and vendors alike, "Art of IT" was judged a huge success and is now set to be an annual event.

The results for BlueWave have been twofold. There were immediate service opportunities identified as a result of clients talking to vendors and BlueWave employees about new technologies. And there are the long-term benefits to come from a better understanding of the value that BlueWave can bring to their clients.

"The event gave us the opportunity to go to another level of relationship building," Vicinanza said. "We got to expand our clients' perception of BlueWave. Now they know that we provide a total technology solution and that we care about creating a sense of community among our clients."

Real-World Connections
As Vicinanza noted, "This event was real-world, not virtual. It's an approach that many companies seem to have forgotten or ignore. I think we really touched the people who attended in a way that is impossible with an e-mail or on a Facebook post."

In a marketing world filled with e-mails and social media, spending the time and money to plan and hold a live event may seem unnecessary. But in-person events provide the unique opportunity to build deeper, personal relationships with prospects and customers. What could be better than sharing good food, drink and a little technology with your customers?  

How are you maintaining real-life connections with clients? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on October 18, 20123 comments

Think Outside the Box for Content

Every partner organization has a wealth of knowledge inside the heads of its consulting and technical teams -- knowledge that can provide the basis for valuable marketing content. The problem lies in tapping into that knowledge so that your marketing team can share it with the world.  

Your consultants and developers are creating content every day -- from proposals to system architecture documents to functional designs.  With some editing and imagination, you can transform the documents your technical team is creating to build a steady stream of marketing content.

The first step is to identify the documents that the consulting or development teams create on a regular basis. Second, the marketing team needs to have a clear understanding of the ground rules for use. Customer names, documents covered under non-disclosure and company IP have to be filtered out.

Ideas for Content Transformation
While a technical document may be intimidating for a marketer at first glance, the "Executive Summary" or the "Purpose" sections of the document are usually written in plain English for the non-technical decision maker. Get the technical and marketing teams together to help them understand each other's needs to get the process going. Specific ideas for content sources include:

  • Proposals: The sales and technical teams spend a lot of time working on proposals. A clear definition of the business problem and the recommended solution are the foundation for a great proposal. Combine two or three proposal summaries to create an e-book-like "Three Common Challenges Retailers Can Overcome."

  • System architecture or business process documents: System design documents clarify the technical or business processes that your clients use to run their business. What could be better marketing content than to explain best practices? There will likely be visuals in the form of Visio diagrams that you can use to illustrate your points. Create a series of blog posts titled "Transform Your Business Processes." 

  • Screencasts: Your consultants may have created screencasts to demonstrate common procedures for your internal team or existing clients. If they haven't, ask them to. Jing screen recording software is free and easy to use. Marketing can edit the video down to a couple of minutes to post on the Web site. If the videos cover multiple subjects, split them into individual "bite-sized" pieces. Camtasia makes screencast editing a snap.

  • Sales/marketing presentations: You probably have a stock of PowerPoint presentations, many used only once. Edit down long presentations to one subject and fewer than 10 slides. Add text to graphics that need explanation, .PDF the PowerPoint and you have an e-book that you can use as a call to action for your Web site or newsletter. 

  • Conduct an in-house survey: To build a regular source of content for your Web site, blogs and newsletters, send out a monthly short questionnaire to your consulting and development teams. Ask for high-level information about the projects they are working on. You'll serve the dual purpose of reminding them that the company needs content and you'll get some great ideas to keep the content pipeline full. 

Unlock Your Content
Marketers face a continual challenge of building valuable content to attract prospects. Generally, content is not the problem; unlocking it is. Get creative to find and use the assets that the technical teams are producing each day.

How do you gather content from your technical teams? Please comment below or let me know so we can share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on October 11, 20120 comments

The Well-Equipped Prospect: Navigating the 'Hidden Sales Cycle'

Your buyer has changed. Prospects come into the sales cycle equipped with much more knowledge -- which they have harvested themselves from the Internet -- than they used to. While that may not be news to you, have you adjusted your marketing to respond to the change?

Reed Overfelt, CEO of FullQuota, has spent a lot of time studying buyer behavior and designing lead-generation programs for technology companies. "There is a hidden sales cycle. Prospects enter the sales process equipped and ready. They have spent time researching without input from anyone," Overfelt said.

When the FullQuota telesales team talks with prospects, they find that buyers are well-educated on the challenges they face and the solutions that claim to help. Not only have they researched online, but they have talked to their peers to get recommendations and insights.

"The reality is that you have to get found," Overfelt added. "Getting found is when the buyer starts the sales cycle."

The First Step To Getting Found
The way to get found is to be the best source of the information for your prospect's research. Simple enough, but how do you know what information your prospect needs?

You have to know your prospect -- inside and out. Building meaningful content that will educate your buyers has to start with a clear understanding of their industry and their challenges. You should know where they go to get their information -- industry and professional sites, social media tags, LinkedIn groups and wherever else they may look for guidance.

The Right Content at the Right Time
Once you have clearly defined who and where your prospects are, you need to build the content that supports their buying process (see this blog post for more on matching content to the buying process). The content you develop needs to be easily found and socialized through the channels your customers frequent. 

The FullQuota approach is based on a rhythmic cycle of blog posts promoted through weekly newsletters to targeted e-mail lists. Additional content, including whitepapers and webinars, augment the posts. The blog and content are centrally located on the partner's Web site, which serves as the hub.

The content is highly targeted to the defined buyer and originally written. "You have to be in front of your target buyer with high-value content regularly," Overfelt said. "And promote that content across a set of channels."

No Easy Button
Content creation isn't easy for partners to keep at the top of the priority list. According to Overfelt, "Microsoft partners are looking for the easy button. There isn't one. You have to create original content. It takes time and it costs money. The only way to reach prospects during the hidden sales cycle is to create great content that your target buyers are interested in."

Not surprisingly, there are a growing number of vendors like FullQuota that help partners create content. Microsoft's Ready-to-Go marketing site lists a few additional sources. As with any service, you will likely get what you pay for, so do your homework.

When evaluating content services, the first question from the vendor should be, "What is the profile of your buyer?" If it's not, look elsewhere. Without valuable, directed content, you are only adding to the noise prospects need to filter out -- not helping them make an important business decision.

Equip Your Buyer
The Internet has transformed the sales process into a buying process. Buyers manage more of the sales cycle than ever before. There is opportunity for those partners who equip the buyer with the information they need to make the best decision for their business.

How are you educating your prospects? Add a comment below or send me an e-mail and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on October 04, 20121 comments

The Move to Vertical Marketing

In most of the discussions about changing partner business models, the concept of verticalization is front and center. But fear of limiting the market to serve a smaller pool of prospects keeps most partners from taking the full plunge into specialization. And while it may seem illogical to find more customers by marketing to fewer prospects, it's working for a growing number of partners.

'A Mile Wide and an Inch Deep'
When Greg Lemon, partner at Kraft Enterprise Systems, a Gold Dynamics ERP partner, first received the Microsoft "go vertical" message four years ago, he took it to heart. "We fell into the category of VAR that is a mile wide and an inch deep," Lemon said.

As with most partners, the challenges faced during the recession caused Kraft to reexamine its approach to the market. Microsoft made a strong case for the success of partners who were proving their value to a defined market through industry specialization.

"While the majority of our clients fell into the service, distribution and manufacturing buckets, we found ourselves chasing ancillary deals in industries where we weren't really competitive," Lemon noted. "We knew that we needed a mindset change to transform our marketing to reach our target buyer."

The Value of Industry Expertise
Lemon hired a marketing firm to help with strategy and execution and an editor to build content for an inbound marketing approach. The results of the effort were disappointing.

"What I learned was that it was difficult to work with someone that didn't understand my business. There wasn't a central vision and no one really owned the marketing strategy," Lemon said. "Execution was arduous."

During a Microsoft partner roadshow, Lemon was impressed with the vision of Reed Overfelt, CEO of Full Quota, a marketing services firm focused on technology companies. An ex-Microsoft general manager, Overfelt and his team worked with Kraft to clearly identify a target market and tactical marketing approach.

With a Web site focused on service and project-based companies in the region, Kraft launched a targeted campaign managed by Full Quota. In the first month after launch, 1,100 visitors made their way to Kraft's Web site -- 50 times the company's historic average of 20 to 25 visitors per month.

Consistent Execution
Consistency is the key to marketing results. Most partners are challenged to make the regular commitment to marketing. When times are good and everyone is busy, there is no time to worry about marketing. When the billable hours backlog starts to erode, panic sets in to get marketing back on track. 

With content support from Full Quota and execution managed through Hubspot software, Kraft established a consistent marketing program that requires a regular but manageable time commitment. 

Kraft is already seeing results. "Be careful what you ask for," Lemon warned. "We have an activity increase that we have to manage. And we already have a large opportunity in the works that will need to be implemented before the end of the year."

Invest Wisely
For most partners, adequate investment in marketing requires a significant mind shift. "Partners should spend 3 to 5, even 7 percent of revenue on marketing," Lemon said. "You have to invest wisely. Spend money purposefully, investing in people who know your buyer and have a proven track record of execution.

"As Microsoft says, gain a vertical presence and be good at what you do. Bring repeatable value to the market. Use that same logic when you look to spend on marketing. Spend money with someone who knows your business." 

Vertical Approach
The changing business models that partners face require a new approach to marketing. More partners are heeding Microsoft's call to go vertical and focusing on their strengths. Instead of limiting their prospects, partners are finding the vertical approach accelerates results.       

Have you found success with vertical marketing? Add a comment below or send me an e-mail and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on September 27, 20120 comments