XChange Panel To Partners: Get On Board With Digital Marketing

(NOTE: This story was originally posted to CRN.com March 7.)

Here's one way your company can make a mark in digital marketing: When 10th Magnitude, a born-in-the-cloud Microsoft Azure partner, wanted to drive sales leads in the DevOps community around the Chef platform, it created a YouTube video titled "The Chef Prince of Azure."

The YouTube video -– whose title is a play on 1990s TV sitcom "The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air" -- created a mini-frenzy in the Chef community that helped drive sales for Chicago-based 10th Magnitude.

"We converted that to leads and deals," said Jason Rook, vice president of market development for 10th Magnitude. "People know about us from that video. That three-minute clip has revolutionized the way we go to business in that market."

[CRNtv: The New Era Of Digital Marketing]

Rook was one of four digital marketing superstars who offered tips and advice on how to succeed in a "New Era of Digital Marketing" panel at XChange Solution Provider 2017 on Tuesday, hosted by Robert Faletra, CEO of CRN's parent, The Channel Company.

Faletra, for his part, said the new era of digital marketing is moving marketing from what was years ago somewhat of a black art ("I know 50 percent of my marketing budget is working, I just don't know which 50 percent.") to a dark science that is now measurable.

"Digital marketing is something everyone in this room needs to be thinking about," Faletra told several hundred partners at the packed main-stage session. "We at The Channel Company have been telling partners for a long time that they need to get better at marketing." The number one objective for partners as they build out their new-era media strategies? Qualified leads, said Faletra.

[RELATED: 'Ready, Shoot!' Making Video Work For Your Marketing Efforts]

10th Magnitude's Rook said his marketing team, which includes four employees with an average age of 26, is focused firmly on "captivating" the millennial audience. "We're finding millennials that not only have the ability to influence buying decisions, but have the authority to write a $250,000 purchase order," he said.

The digital marketing efforts are paying off in better brand recognition, leads and attracting talent, said Rook. "We put more emphasis on the brand," he said.

Michael Knight, president and CTO of Encore Technology Group, a Greenville, S.C.-based solution provider -- No. 376 on the CRN's Solution Provider 500 -- said his company relies on three outside digital marketing experts to be successful. "We knew what our need was: more sales, customers, and better brand recognition," he said. "The key for us is they know how to do it."

Knight says many companies focus far too much on the pure lead and miss out on the value of building their own brand through their digital marketing efforts. "You have to be careful not to pigeonhole yourself as working with just one technology provider," he said.