4 Ways To Shine More Light on Your Gold or Silver Competency

Earning a Gold or Silver competency is a significant investment in terms of training, cost and customer references. According to Microsoft, only 5 percent of partners have attained competencies, which puts you in a pretty elite group. But how do you share the value of the achievement with your customers and prospects?

Many partners would like to see Microsoft do more to promote the value of competencies through advertising in the marketplace. Onstage at this year's Worldwide Partner Conference, Andy Vabulas, CEO of I.B.I.S. Inc., surprised Julie Bennani, general manager of the Microsoft Partner Network, with a request for partner competency promotion. Until that effort escalates, use the tools that are available -- and some creativity -- to educate your customers and prospects. More

Posted by Barb Levisay on September 20, 20121 comments

Keep Sites Fresh with Microsoft Ready-to-Go Web Syndication

Wouldn't it be great if you could keep the content on your Web site current...without having to do anything? Microsoft's Ready-to-Go (RtG) marketing site offers dynamic, customer-facing, syndicated Web site content that will keep your site fresh without constant attention.

RtG's Web syndication gives you access to banners, microsites and interactive content that is embedded in your Web site. It's simple, covers a wide variety of solutions and is free. What's not to love about this service? More

Posted by Barb Levisay on September 13, 20121 comments

Events Are Better on Microsoft Ready-to-Go

The event management engine on Microsoft's Ready-to-Go (RtG) partner marketing site has been completely revamped and updated. In the past, many partners avoided managing events through RtG's Click to Attend because the service required registrants to have a Windows Live ID. That requirement is gone, so it's time for partners to take another look.

Ease Your Way into Events
Whether you are new to holding events or an experienced master of ceremonies, RtG has resources that will help your next event be more successful. You can create an event directly from an existing RtG campaign or use your own materials. Many partners start with campaign materials as a base and customize with their own messaging. More

Posted by Barb Levisay on September 06, 20120 comments

September Events Highlight Dynamics Opportunities

If you are considering adding Dynamics CRM or ERP to your solution lineup, there are two partner events being held in September that could get you up to speed quickly. eXtremeCRM 2012 has an impressive roster of industry leaders and Microsoft Dynamics CRM experts slated for Sept. 30 to Oct. 3 in Las Vegas. And The Partner Event, popular with the Dynamics ERP crowd, is being held in Fargo, N.D. on Sept. 9 to 11.

eXtremeCRM 2012
For those partners interested in participating in the exceptional growth of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, eXtremeCRM provides the opportunity to hear from Microsoft leadership and practicing partners in one place. Tracks for leadership, sales, consultants and developers offer sessions for those dipping their toes in the CRM waters, as well as deep dives with the experts. More

Posted by Barb Levisay on August 29, 20122 comments

Marketing Is Alive and Kicking in the Partner Channel

"Marketing is Dead" is the headline of a Harvard Business Review article that has sparked controversy and attracted outraged responses from marketing gurus across the country. Author Bill Lee asserts that traditional marketing, like advertising and public relations, has been replaced with "peer-based, community-oriented marketing." Seems like that pretty well sums up the marketing strategy most Microsoft partners have had in place for years.

Leading the Marketing Revolution
While Lee's intended audience is corporate marketing leaders rather than small businesses, his message has interesting implications for partners. Buyer behavior has matured from advertising-induced response to self-directed product research. Purchase decisions are based on information from trusted sources instead of the claims of advertisers. More

Posted by Barb Levisay on August 23, 20120 comments

Get in Front of Your Customers with Windows 8

As the release of Windows 8 approaches, now is the time to get in front of your customers as the go-to partner. Every new release presents partners with the opportunity to educate customers and prospects, building credibility as an expert. This year is a bonanza for Microsoft partners. 

Lead, Don't Follow
Many partners wait until after a new version is released to start the conversation with customers, either because they assume customers aren't interested until release or to distance themselves from risk of a flop. This is a lost opportunity to lead. More

Posted by Barb Levisay on August 16, 20120 comments

Is Your Blog Lonely?

It's tough to be patient. You're making regular posts to your blog covering topics that you are sure your target audience will find interesting. But the hits just aren't coming. Here are a few ideas to help build traffic.

If you are not already sending out a newsletter to your clients and prospects, this is the quickest, most effective way to boost readership. Your blog posts can make for a very powerful newsletter with minimal effort. More

Posted by Barb Levisay on August 09, 20120 comments

Content that Works: Great Examples from the Partner Community

Content is the name of the game in marketing today. You want to build relationships with prospects and customers by delivering information that they can use to make decisions about their business. When you supply that information, you help prospects gain confidence in your knowledge as the expert.

While many partners look to Microsoft to build content for them, there are partners making the commitment to create their own. We found just a few examples that may inspire you to take a more active approach. More

Posted by Barb Levisay on August 02, 20121 comments

System Evaluation Series, Part 7: The Final Approach

Over the past several months, we have been following "Dave" and his evaluation team as they reviewed business management solutions to support the growth of their specialty industrial machinery company. With about 200 employees in seven North American locations, the Microsoft-centric organization has plans for growth that include multinational expansion.

Choosing the Best-of-Breed Vertical
In Part 4, I described the evaluation team's review of a vertical solution that serves the equipment dealer and rental industry. A "best-of- breed" solution, the custom-built application uses Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Infor to deliver an end-to-end solution. The Web site and marketing approach is 100 percent focused on the dealership and rental industry vertical. More

Posted by Barb Levisay on July 26, 20120 comments

5 Creative Ways To Make the Most of Your Microsoft Partner Award

Congratulations! You have earned recognition from Microsoft for your contribution to sales or service excellence. Receiving the award at the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in front of your peers is exhilarating and gratifying. Well done.

Once you have written the press release, posted a LinkedIn announcement and added a line to your e-mail signature, what's next? Here are a few more ideas to help you get the most value from the hard work that won you the recognition. More

Posted by Barb Levisay on July 19, 20120 comments