Differentiate your organization in three key steps
At Microsoft, we truly believe that we can achieve more through collaboration, which is why we are committed to working with our partners to achieve long-term success.
As a Microsoft partner, you’ll always have the tools and resources you need to help your organization build your solution, go-to-market with Microsoft and co-sell with Microsoft.
The Go-to-Market (GTM) team supports partner organizations with their marketing; providing everything they need to run campaigns with Azure, Microsoft 365, and Dynamics 365 right in the Marketing Resource Hub.
It’s important to get the GTM part of the process right. Co-branding and co-marketing can be an art, one that is filled with dynamic changes and an array of pieces, and when done correctly those pieces can form an incredible and impactful integrated marketing plan. A growing number of cloud solution providers—many of them much like you—are vying for a piece of the huge market opportunity pie for cloud technology. Added uncertainty from the current business landscape has amplified competitive pressures, making it critical for your organization to differentiate itself in the marketplace. In this post, I’ve outlined three key steps to help you do so.
#1: Know your target market
In defining a clear value proposition, it’s important to know your addressable market and assure your value proposition resonates with them. A key element is understanding where to invest to make a big splash, as opposed to throwing a small rock in the ocean and hoping for a wave. Consider company size, industry, specialized offering, or some combination of all the above. Then craft your value proposition in a way that leads with the customer needs you’re uniquely able to meet because of that focus.
This narrowed focus will help you to zero in on keywords that resonate with your target audience, which I often work with our Bing team to identify. Layering these terms into digital materials will help potential customers discover your offering through Search Engine Marketing (SEM), so it’s important to update your messaging and written copy frequently so it remains aligned.
A specific focus doesn’t necessarily mean a smaller market. In her 2019 Inspire keynote, our Corporate Vice President Gavriella Schuster shared this example: “Rackspace [a Microsoft partner] is really onto something focusing on that small and midsize business customer because do you know that there are 76 million customers in SMB. It is an $80 billion market opportunity and Office 365 is on less than 10 percent of those customers. That is a lot of upside.” I couldn’t agree more.
#2: Know your trends
Back up your value proposition by keeping up with the constantly evolving digital landscape and needs of your customers, such as their changing industry-specific security requirements. Empower your teams to participate in training regularly and take advantage of the latest capabilities of the technologies that market your solutions. Following relevant hashtags and key terms can also help your team keep up with industry trends, which can change weekly or even daily.
Partners can access Digital Marketing Content on Demand, a social posting tool that provides customizable campaign content on a daily basis. Many Microsoft partners tailor their post message and hashtags, as well as the call to action to point to their listing in the commercial marketplace. This combined approach will also be a source of statistics and insights to inform your co-marketing journey with Microsoft.
As Melissa Mulholland, our Director, Cloud Capability and Profitability, wrote in her recent blog, “… you can’t grow faster than your capabilities allow, and the best investment you can make to future-proof your practice is to align your skills with current and planned solution sets.”
It’s also beneficial to publish thought leadership content including blogs, articles, and customer success stories that speak to the specific scenarios you represent. I have found success in identifying key thought leaders both by topic and geographical reach–this will help keep your message relevant at a local and global level. If your company doesn’t have its own blog, this is easily done through LinkedIn, or you can pick another culturally relevant site in your region.
#3: Know your purpose
In today’s market, it’s important to share the empathetic values your company embodies. As Cydney Hoffnagle, our Digital Go-to-Market Lead, wrote in her recent blog, customers decide which companies to be loyal to not just based on the solutions and services they offer, but on their spirit of goodwill to others.
For your organization, that could mean you share your commitment to diversity and inclusion, environmental and social causes or other altruistic efforts. As you consistently communicate and live your values—especially during economic downturns and other difficult times—your customers will trust you more, and over time you’ll build a reputation that will help your business scale.
Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella is well-known for reinvigorating the company’s culture with empathy at its center. In his book “Hit Refresh,” he said his personal philosophy is to “connect new ideas with a growing sense of empathy for other people.” This approach has not only fostered greater trust from our customers and partners, but it has elevated diverse perspectives and unique innovations that have benefited millions. In short, adopting and living empathetic values is not only the right thing to do—it will generate value for your business and help your organization to stand out.
Support every step of the way
As your partner, we’re here to help you differentiate and prosper. We have all kinds of resources to support you in taking the steps outlined above, including:
- Defining your value proposition: We offer value proposition workshops and on-demand training and guidance.
- Evangelizing your differentiators: To spread the word about your value proposition and the human side of your organization, we offer customizable digital content and campaigns.
- Demonstrating your expertise: Microsoft offers certifications and competencies, thought leadership bundles, customized partner stories and more.
As you work with Microsoft to define your value proposition, continually invest in specialized skills and offerings, and consistently live your empathetic values, I’m confident you will unlock greater value for your customers, your employees, and your organization as a whole.
For more information and resources, visit the Microsoft partner website.