Introduced last year, Partner Marketing Central has now formally come to Canada, available fully in both English and Canadian French to the company’s solution providers.
First, let’s turn to Holly Marasco, director of partner marketing for Cisco Canada, for a quick rundown on the new site and how it fits into Cisco’s Partner Led strategy.
Join us after the jump for a full rundown of what’s included in Partner Marketing Central, as well as some advice from a pilot partner.
As Marasco mentions in the video, the company did some research on how partners use marketing tools provided by vendors. Cisco found that more than 70 per cent of its partner base is “very reliant” on their vendor partners in helping to develop their marketing strategies. Those needs go beyond providing funding for solution providers in their marketing activities, to helping define those activities and the strategies behind them.
“Even partners with in-house resources are very reliant on vendors,” Marasco said.
The need to streamline partner marketing tools and strategies for its partner base is accentuated by the company’s current Partner Led push, which includes an effort to ramp up smaller partners’ ability to drive Cisco brand preference in the SMB space.
The site, available to Cisco partners now, combines three families of tools.
The Campaign Center is the central repository for all of the company’s co-branded marketing materials and delivery vehicles for them. Available tools include templates for e-mail blasts and templates as well as ways to deliver them. The Campaign Center also offers scripted presentations, Web copy for parnter Web sites, competitive battle cards and cheat sheets, and other sales and marketing collateral, all available to partners for free. This section of the site aims to go a little deeper than just products, offering more in-depth information on each of the company’s major architectural plays, including one-page descriptions of the architectures, technical presentations, and ROI analysis tools.
Under the Event Center, Cisco offers partners tools and resources for planning and executing in-person or virtual events, including the management of registrations, reminders to attendees, event-related social media campaigns and post-event follow up campaigns
The third section of the site, Full-Service Marketing, gives partners access to a variety of Cisco-vetted marketing agencies and other partners for solution providers whose needs run a little deeper. The site includes the integrated ability to order services from those third parties, including Cisco-negotiated group pricing. Partners can self-fund these activities, or Premier, Silver and Gold partners can use their Cisco co-marketing dollars towards the campaigns.
Marasco said that although all partners will have access to PMC and will be able to use its tools, she expects that “those who derive the greatest benefit will be those who don’t have the marketing staff, the time or resources to build marketing campaigns in-house.”
For the benefit of those smaller partners mostly, the company also includes a backgrounder on marketing best practices to help partners with tips on foundational elements like running a newsletter, organizing an event, planning telemarketing, and getting access to Cisco joint marketing funds.
Bridge Corporate Communications, an 18-month-old unified communications-focused SI out of Winnipeg, was a pilot partner for the program, and is exactly one of those types of partners that PMC targets. Without a marketing person on staff, Michael Ferguson, co-founder of Bridge, said they were looking for ways to build market presence in their native Manitoba. And given that more than three quarters of the company’s marketing efforts are directly linked to what’s available under its vendors’ partner programs, PMC made a lot of sense. Ferguson said Bridge used PMC capabilities to do some telemarketing, an e-mail campaign and used a PMC-connected third party to design a social media campaign.
“It’s been crucial in landing us a few name-brand accounts,” he said of the PMC tools.
Ferguson offered some advice to his fellow solution providers on how to get the most out of the site:
- Just use it: “It’s available and it’s an excellent program. You’d almost be remiss not to understand it and use it.”
- Own it: “Have somebody in your organization become very familiar with the tool,” Ferguson advised. In Bridge’s case, that person was the company’s director of sales. “It was key in getting to know the tool, how to navigate through it and how to get value from it.”