The Most Powerful (and Underused) Marketing Program for Microsoft Partners
What if you had access to a program that connected you with business decision makers in your community, positioning you as an expert in Microsoft technologies? And what if you could stand in front of an audience of those business leaders and show them how Microsoft technologies can improve their results?
The Microsoft Community Connections (MCC) program supports exactly this, and more. For free.
Reaping the Rewards
While more partners should take advantage of the MCC program, there are many who already do and are reaping the rewards. Among them is US Licensing Group, whose use of MCC played a key role in the company earning the 2013 ASPIRE Award, Microsoft's annual recognition of partner excellence in strategic marketing.
While the award is based on exemplary execution of a well-planned marketing strategy, US Licensing Group President Bill Hole attributes much of his company's success to Microsoft's Ready-to-Go (RtG) and MCC programs.
"MCC is the best way to get leads from the business decision makers who have an immediate need for your services. You get immediate credibility with the audience," Hole said. "You are there on behalf of Microsoft -- the trusted advisor -- and that translates well to the attendees."
Awards from Microsoft are nice, but the real reward for the 10-person US Licensing Group comes in the form of sustained growth.
"We are up 13 percent year over year...and the year is still young," Hole noted. "We are just coming out of a serious economic downturn and we never experienced less than 8 percent growth. You get out of marketing what you put into it. We made a commitment and it has paid off."
Making the Most of Microsoft Assets
The marketing team at US Licensing Group relies on RtG content as the basis for much of its marketing content. A rebranding of the company, launched in January 2013, required an extensive reworking of the company's marketing assets. Starting with the campaigns and content from RtG, the marketing team adjusts the messaging to speak more directly to its small-business target market.
Holding approximately 60 MCC events each year, the US Licensing Group marketing team depends heavily on the campaign content from RtG.
"We actively need to refresh our content because we have a lot of repeat attendees," Hole said. "We want to build our credibility, and MCC paired with RtG makes that possible. We don't have to reinvent the wheel and can quickly go to market with new topics."
Hole is looking forward to holding more events in the soon-to-open Microsoft store and new Microsoft offices located in Southern California, US Licensing Group's home turf. Events located in Microsoft venues further add to the credibility of the partner as an extension of the corporation.
Like many partners, Hole is happy to share his marketing "secrets of success" with others. He met with partners seeking marketing guidance at this year's Worldwide Partner Conference and worked with Microsoft to create a video about the MCC program. Watch the three-minute video below for a great idea about partnering on an MCC event.
Hole's advice to partners includes taking a longer view of marketing efforts in coordination with the Microsoft initiatives. He recommends creating a calendar of marketing activities that leverage the RtG campaign materials and making consistent execution of those activities a priority. For the coming year, US Licensing Group is betting big on the Get2Modern and the new Office RtG campaigns.
As I've mentioned before, consistency is your secret weapon in marketing. Microsoft has made a concerted effort over the past several years to create professional-looking content through RtG that partners can make their own. The MCC program makes it easy to position yourself as an expert with business decision makers in your community. Together, RtG and MCC are a winning combination that every partner should make a part of their marketing plan.
How have you used MCC to build your business? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share the knowledge.
Posted by Barb Levisay on July 25, 2013