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Microsoft Helps Partners Fill Pipelines with 'Smart Partner Marketing'

For many partners, marketing remains the one function that seems impossible to master. Perhaps because technical minds yearn for clear-cut solutions, most partner leaders would rather take a trip to the dentist than think about marketing.

In its quest to help partners tame the marketing monster, Microsoft recently launched the "Smart Partner Marketing" site, which provides step-by-step guidance for even the most reluctant marketer.

The Smart Partner Marketing site was quietly launched in July, but has already gained the attention of partners. "Since we launched the site, we have had around 3,500 unique visitors per month which has been generated purely in organic ways," said Kevin Price, Microsoft's director of partner and channel marketing. "The assessments portion of the site is very popular, as is the cloud buyer's journey page...with over 2,100 visits since launch."

Those partners who visit the site will find it worth the time. Price and his team have done a truly commendable job in bringing logic and clear-cut guidance to the process of marketing. The 11-minute "How does the cloud customer buy?" video sets the stage with a practical, partner-centric perspective of the buying process. The video, created with IDC and based on real partner experiences, offers specific steps that a partner should take at each stage of the buyer's journey.

Next stop is "Check your marketing readiness" which presents five questions that guide you to recommendations appropriate for your business model. You'll be sent to one of three resource pages -- Practical, Progressive and Sophisticated -- that includes suggestions for your next marketing steps. Instructional videos provide specific guidance to build a plan and execute your marketing activities.      

It's definitely worth the time to watch the partner videos at all three levels. Each partner approaches prospecting a little differently and shares lessons learned through experience. The overriding message is that there is no secret formula. Successful marketing requires consistent execution and tenacity.

Already a valuable resource, the Smart Partner Marketing site is apparently just getting started. "This month, we begin to market the pages to partners as part of their overall journey with [the Microsoft Partner Network] in our Cloud SureStep program," Price said. "In addition, the team will be releasing a version of the Smart Partner Marketing experience that will specifically provide guidance for IP partners, partners whose business model is based on having internally created products, services or business processes. Partners will find content specific to their needs, which is more focused on helping them develop their unique value proposition to customers, as well as market in modern ways to reach customers at scale."

Future content includes guidance to help partners generate customer demand through Microsoft's marketplaces. In addition, expect marketing stories from partners who are making a market for their IP and vertical solutions.

The Smart Partner Marketing site really does have something for every level of marketer, with videos that cover topics from the basics of marketing planning to tips for online events. All paths from the site lead to the Ready-to-Go (RtG) site and the ModernBiz marketing assets. The wealth of content on RtG will save you time and money spent on the basic building blocks of your marketing so that you can focus on creating your own personalized messaging.

There was a time when Microsoft's marketing advice did not appear to be based on partner experience. The partner-facing marketing teams deserve credit for turning that around over the past several years. The advice on the Smart Partner Marketing site is practical, usable guidance that can help you build a solid marketing program that will grow your business. No more excuses.

How are you using Microsoft's marketing resources? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on September 23, 2015