Marketing Expectations: It Takes Two to Tango
Tips and tricks for getting the most out of your vendor partnerships
- By Keith Lubner
- May 01, 2007
After I told my children to clean up a mess the other day, one said,
"Dad, it's not my job; I didn't make the mess." My response
was, "Cleaning up is everyone's job!"
The same holds true for demand generation between vendors and their partners.
When it comes to vendor relationships, success hinges on both sides doing
their fair share. With this in mind, let's look at the different perspectives
of the vendor, the Microsoft partner and, most importantly, the team.
It's very important to understand the vendor's perspective when it comes
to marketing. The vendor has three options: Sell direct, sell through
partners or use a hybrid approach -- something most vendors do. However,
a vendor's selling model is likely different than the marketing approaches
that it will take. Microsoft partners need to pay attention to where a
vendor is investing its marketing dollars.
Very often, the vendor will invest in marketing-but only for generating
leads that ultimately wind up in the hands of its direct sales force.
Ask the vendor what demand-generation tactics are in its plans and how
the results of those efforts will be distributed. If you don't focus on
demand generation for your company (which, in my opinion, is the kiss
of death for your business!) then you need to do a lot of homework because
you'll be relying on someone else -- the vendor.
Now, you might see situations where a vendor invests heavily in brand
awareness. This is good news for you-but only if you do marketing in your
particular region or vertical market. That's because you're now leveraging
the vendor's awareness in the marketplace and fine-tuning that awareness
as it relates to your business. While you might not see a lot of direct
leads, you'll definitely benefit in an indirect way. The best vendors
have figured out the appropriate balance between building awareness and
The Partner's Role
As a Microsoft partner, you benefit tremendously from the Microsoft brand.
Customers and prospects have no problem recognizing that brand. However,
most vendors lack such a recognizable name. So as they build up their
exposure in the marketplace, you as their partner must do local, regional
or vertical-based marketing. While you may receive a few leads from the
vendor, you must maintain the mindset that it's your responsibility to
develop business. Neglecting this responsibility will hurt your own business
because many things can happen to cause vendor-supplied leads to dry up.
My recommendation: When you run marketing campaigns, leverage the entire
stack of vendors in your portfolio. Show how each of these vendors complements
It Takes Two to Tango ... or Tangle?
When it comes to marketing with vendors, the best approach is to think
of it as a dance.
If you keep in step with your partner, and respond with the right steps
of your own, the dance goes smoothly. If you decide to wait and see what
your partner does, you'll always be a step behind. You need to communicate.
Spend some time discussing marketing plans with your vendors, making
sure that you map definite action into those plans.
Vendors typically focus their marketing on brand awareness, with some
attention to lead generation. However, partners should always focus on
lead generation, regardless of how many leads they receive from vendors.
Recognizing this dynamic will result in good marketing relationships
with your vendors -- and that's a formula for success that even kids will
Keith Lubner is managing partner of Channel Consulting Corp., a N.J.-based global consulting organization focused on channel strategy, design, enablement, outsourcing and training for growing companies.