The most successful organizations in Canada, including Microsoft partners, consistently find creative ways to do marketing. This post shares some thoughts on the importance of “always-on” integrated marketing and organizes some of the best Microsoft resources and customer-facing channels for Canadian partners to leverage.
Love it or hate it, marketing drives our economy. As consumers and clients/customers, Canadians patronize companies who actively and consistently market their brands through clever advertising and social media. This law plays itself out in the Canadian partner landscape, where forward-thinking entrepreneurs have achieved enormous success by building their reputations on a national and international stage.
Granted, few Canadian companies can stomach the high-cost and risk of traditional advertising channels, like TV and print. Instead, most favour a mix of measurable and cost-effective digital marketing activities designed to achieve an always-on brand presence in the marketplace.
As the term implies, always-on means having coordinated communication activities happening at the same time, all the time.
For partners competing in today’s b2b world, those communication activities tend to include a great website, search and display ads, remarketing, webinars, email marketing, podcasts, ebooks, how-to videos, blogging, and presentations. And of course, lots and lots of publishing on popular platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Companies that avoid doing marketing to save money miss a huge opportunity to make it.
And those are just the table stakes! On top of all that communication activity, successful marketing teams work with sales and public relations teams to amplify their efforts. They run advertising campaigns and develop their own promotional offers with value-added bundles. They even develop their own proprietary branded offerings that differentiate their businesses in meaningful ways.
Getting your marketing going
In the ideal world, you could just hire a team of creative marketers to collaborate with your sales team. But in the real world, not every partner can afford a dedicated in-house marketing team or a content marketing agency to help them. For those partners—or for any partner looking to enhance what they already do—the Microsoft Partner Network offers entry to customer marketplaces and some very useful self-serve tools.
1. Start with strategy
Great marketing starts with planning. Develop your own plan at Smart Partner Marketing. This website offers step-by-step guidance for partners at specific stages of their business journey—from getting established (1 or 2 employees) and boosting impact (three to five) to building loyalty (six or more employees). You will find principles, strategies, and tactics covering everything from developing your own elevator pitch and website, to improving email open rates and attracting leads with LinkedIn.
2. Assemble your assets
If you want to broaden your reach by accessing Microsoft channels, visit the Reach customer section of the partner site. You can find a cloud specialist to work with, generate referral opportunities, find marketplaces to publish your solution, and a place to sign-up up to the Microsoft Partner Network, if you haven’t already. With a library of more than 1,000 marketing assets on offer, you can get access to customizable campaigns, a logo builder, sales empowerment tools, training events, and more.
3. Track your content
Before you deploy any assets, set up Qorus Content Hub, the sales add in for Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. It helps you shorten sales cycles and improve win rates. Qorus lets you incorporate the latest Microsoft content into your emails and documents easily then tracks the usage and performance of those materials. Stop sending file attachments to prospects willy-nilly and start getting strategic about your content!
4. Campaign, campaign, campaign
Microsoft Digital Marketing Content OnDemand enables partners to access campaigns across 18 Microsoft channels, including SureStep materials. These campaigns include videos, emails, ebooks/whitepapers, thought leadership articles, and other assets you can customize and share across social networks, email, etc. You can use this service to automatically push social media content and “gate” content for lead generation.
5. Use your go-to-market benefits
As a Microsoft partner, you’re eligible for diverse benefits. Go-to-market (GTM) benefits include offerings for partners who have attained a competency or published their app on Microsoft’s marketplaces. These partners have access to go-to-market specialists who can review websites, marketing materials, and value propositions.
6. Leverage Microsoft’s channels
Social Media -> Amplify your Microsoft solutions-related blog posts, events, customer stories, how-to videos, and other content on Microsoft Canadian social channels. Ask your Microsoft representative to submit your content on your behalf. Include copy/text (no longer than 140 characters), imagery, and and call to action URL that’s MAS & CASL Compliant. Content will be reviewed and approved by Microsoft. Only content that meets the requirements will be selected for amplification.
Storytelling -> Microsoft wants to celebrate your success and share your customer digital transformation story with our community of customers and advocates. Ask your Microsoft representative to review your story details. If approved, the Microsoft storytelling team will work with you and your customer, from start to finish, to produce a story you can use to promote your brand.
PR & Media -> Any third-party press announcement that includes a mention of Microsoft, its products, services, details regarding a partnership, or development agreement, or a quote from a Microsoft spokesperson must be submitted for review to ensure the release complies with Microsoft process and guidelines.
Connect with your Microsoft representative for them to engage with the Microsoft PR team and submit your requirement for review. Note that Microsoft requires a minimum of 10 business to review, comment, and legally approve the announcement.
7. Sell on Microsoft’s b2b marketplaces
If you sell a solution, make sure you get it in front of your customers! Whether you have an existing app or intend to build a new one, Microsoft can support you with leading cloud services and a global marketplace. Launch and promote your app in Canada, the United States, the European Union, and beyond. Reach new enterprise customers and find a reliable channel to scale your business at high visibility storefronts AppSource and the Azure Marketplace.