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9 Steps To Ramp Up Your CSP Solution Marketing

Based on the 20,000 and counting partners participating in Microsoft's Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program, a swelling number of packaged service offerings are vying for your prospects' attentions. While we know the market for cloud services is also growing, partners need to rev up the marketing engine to stay competitive.

Now that you've got your CSP solution(s) defined and set up, it's time to get out in front of the crowd with well-planned, consistently executed marketing. The list below provides a 10,000-foot view of the steps to ramp up your marketing efforts. Microsoft offers a number of worthwhile programs and groups to help train and support your marketing team through all of these steps. Through the Marketing SureStep Group and product-specific groups on the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) Yammer, the opportunity to learn through direct interaction with Microsoft and other partner marketers is priceless, so take advantage.

1. Define the Target Market for Your CSP Solution
As with all marketing, the first step in any successful marketing effort is to clearly define your target market. Step back to look at the target market for your CSP solution -- separate from the rest of your business. Identify the industry/role/function of the people who will benefit most from the solution set. The more precisely you can focus your message to appeal to an industry/role/function, the more likely your content will be found by prospective buyers.

2. Create a List of the Pains Your Solution Addresses
Clearly lay out the problems your CSP offering solves for the target audience. As you work on this list, key words and phrases will emerge to use in your social and online marketing campaigns.

3. Create a Clear Value Proposition
Your value proposition is just that: the value you will deliver to help your target audience improve their business or solve their problem. Write a paragraph -- one high-level sentence and three or four bullets -- that clearly, succinctly describes the pains solved and benefits provided by your solution. If you want to go one step further, go deeper on each bullet and outline the pains and the benefits of the solution.

Consider naming your offerings. A name makes it easier for customers to understand that it is a "set" of services.

4. Create Content that Educates Prospects
Your content should guide the prospect as they progress through the buying process. Using your value proposition as the guide for topics, help your prospects understand their problem and how you can help them solve it. Include a call to action to close out all your content. Always suggest the next step you'd like your prospect to take.

Develop an achievable plan for your content. From blog posts to webinars to white papers, there is no right or wrong on the type of content. The important thing is choosing a form that you will consistently create.

5. Build Out the Content on Your Web Site
Take an objective look at your Web site. It needs to look modern or your message won't make it past a seven-second view-and-click-away. Set up a separate page/section for your CSP offering. Use your value proposition as a guide for your navigation and content.

6. Update Social Media Sites and Pertinent Directories
Update all of your social media profiles, including your LinkedIn company page, with messaging about your solution set(s). Update, and keep current, your Partner Central profile and search out other vendor directories and marketplaces. As you have done research on your market, you have likely found industry or professional organization sites that serve your target prospects. Look for opportunities on those sites to get listed or contribute content, like blog posts.  

7. Create Marketing Campaigns
Marketing campaigns can be any combination of marketing tactics, all focused on promoting the solution set to a specific target market. There is no right or wrong -- just be consistent and follow through. Newsletters, trade shows, seminars, webinars, e-mails, inbound marketing and social media are all viable alternatives and should work together to reinforce a common message.

For both content and marketing campaign materials, build on the Microsoft resources. Over the past few months, assets supporting Microsoft's Digital Transformation messaging have been released. There is a goldmine of content and templates to save you time and money.  

8. Use Your Team and Customers To Spread the Word
Today, everyone is in marketing. Employees should understand the value proposition of your solutions and be ready to talk to customers and business contacts. Your best customers can become advocates for your solution. Look for opportunities to engage the skills and interests of employees and customers in your marketing campaigns.

9. Commit to Schedules To Keep Your Marketing Engine Going
Consistency is the key to marketing results. Most partners are highly challenged to make the unwavering, long-term commitment to marketing that will deliver reliable results. When everyone is busy, marketing is the first casualty. In the world of online marketing, continuous marketing has become even more important.

Well-planned, consistently executed marketing will help your solution stand out in a crowded field. For partners, marketing always seems to be the hardest step in launching new services. However, it's not as mysterious as it seems. Follow these nine steps and you'll build a marketing engine that keeps your sales pipeline full. 

How are you marketing your CSP solution? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on March 02, 2017