'Maintaining the status quo will be a failing strategy for IT solution providers.' - IDC: Partner of the future, 2015
In a market facing constant evolution, the IT industry needs to be flexible and open to change. To remain competitive, Microsoft partners are committing to iterative marketing transformation.
Connecting with prospects before they make a purchase decision builds trust, as long as it's done in a non-intrusive manner. By focusing your marketing efforts on solution-orientated content, you demonstrate the quality and value of your service to potential customers.
You can find out more about upgrading your marketing strategies here. But, for now, let's look at three Microsoft partners already embracing modern marketing and seeing incredible changes in their sales process.
Microsoft's Country Partner of the Year finalist (2016), RedPixie has seen rapid transformation following a significant refactoring of their marketing strategy.
Moving from outbound to inbound marketing has enabled RedPixie to focus on the continuous deployment of new marketing tactics. They've built trust and rapport with prospects while leading them through a consultative and engaging marketing journey.
Through the introduction of 'smarketing' and a business wide understanding of its potential, RedPixie grew their team from of 30 to 75 within 12 months. They've also tripled their revenue by delivering an outstanding service to their clients; a success the company puts down to their commitment to modern marketing. In fact, their current strategy has been so effective it's resulted in them reaching the Top 50 of Fifty Five and Five's 2017 Inbound Marketing Excellence Report.
The foundations of RedPixie's strategy include:
- Fostering trust and engagement from the start. By building marketing personas [LINK to 5m guide to personas], RedPixie has been able to target the right prospects. They focus on 'always helping' their audience to guide them through the buyer's journey.
- Highly-targeted modern marketing. Using blog content, social media, targeted online ads, and SEO, RedPixie attracts visitors to their website, using premium offers and landing pages to convert visitors into leads. Logging these leads in a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system allows their marketing team to send automated follow-up emails, connect with prospects earlier in their decision-making process and nurture these leads into customers.
- In-person marketing offers. To complement their digital strategy, RedPixie holds marketing events and workshops. These in-person events are non-sales orientated, intended to build relationships. Digital marketing ensures event attendees are qualified registrations [LINK to 5m guide to getting qualified registrations] with an interest in learning more about the company.
Over the past two years, RedPixie has focused their efforts on a new website and blog, online lead capture, marketing automation and social media activity [LINK to social media blog] to great success.
'We spend 12% of our total revenue on marketing and 3% of our workforce work in the marketing department. As a result, we are regularly cited by partners, including Microsoft and Ingram Micro, as market leaders in the digital marketing space', says Mitchell Feldman. CDO.
Axon IT is a Microsoft Gold Partner focused on providing cloud solutions and managed services to their customers. They've refocused their marketing efforts in the last few years following an expansion in 2010.
'Microsoft help us to nurture leads through their concierge service. This provides us with a range of readily available resources. As a small business, deciding how to market ourselves would be an arduous task without Microsoft's guidance. It allows us to do things off the wall, beyond the scope of our business', says Anna Nicholls, Sales and Marketing Manager.
Since the start of their expansion, the company has concentrated their efforts on a range of digital marketing activity, including:
- Social media marketing
- Sponsored ads
- Online PR
This has resulted in a significant transformation for the company, who previously had no digital marketing experience. With the support and advice of Microsoft, they've overcome their limitations in this field.
Under Microsoft's guidance, the firm now hosts a range of cloud-based workshops. During these events, they teach their audience how to unlock the power of Microsoft Azure and encourage the exploration of refactoring current business processes and accelerating digital transformation.
Axon IT use Microsoft Dynamic 365 to stay ahead of the competition and create a unified approach to selling. The CRM system helps their sales team make the most of the marketing qualified leads.
DocuSign is an eSignature provider, offering easy sign off on a range of documents. Recently, they've focused their efforts on channel marketing around Office 365, with their services included in the premium 365 package. Their aim is to gain more traction via social media, primarily through Twitter.
'If you are thinking about marketing, don't assume the only marketing model is direct to customer - you could resell it or package it in another way. Leveraging other partners in the Microsoft network is a great way to reach new prospects', says Angie Halderman, Global Strategic Alliance Director.
Following the same marketing model Microsoft uses for Office 365, DocuSign is:
- Selling direct to distributors
- Engaging on a reselling basis as part of a Microsoft cloud package
- Dedicating time to increasing the size and quality of their Microsoft app store presence in an attempt to rival the likes of Salesforce.
Currently, the firm is excited about the prospect of using Microsoft Inspire to build new relationships and marketing avenues. They'll also be expanding their existing partnership with Microsoft Azure to increase business, encourage engagement and motivate customers through data-driven marketing.
How to transform your own marketing
As you can see from those on the forefront of the movement, modern marketing can open up new revenue streams for any Microsoft Partner. Companies that embrace revenue marketing take customer engagement to a whole new level. Keep these tips in mind as you transform your own strategies:
1. Be targeted
Create and implement buyer personas to gain a better understanding of your audience's questions and challenges. This allows you to build content that meets their needs and establishes rapport.
2. Be clear
Concentrate on a specific product, service or technology per campaign to ensure the clear delivery of your marketing message. Engage the right people at the right times with campaigns that aim to alleviate their current issues and concerns.
3. Go digital (but don't forget to be human too)
While digital marketing is invaluable in terms of reach and analysis, don't forget to be relatable and approachable. Social media, blogs, and offers give you a platform to achieve this and, with the right approach, you can replicate the success of the Partners above.
By following in the footsteps of these companies, you'll ensure your marketing transformation gets off to a great start. All customers like to feel they can trust the service providers they engage with and winning them over during the initial stages makes the sales process easier and more rewarding.
For more information on how to upgrade your marketing strategies, check out our Microsoft Partner Transformation Toolkit.