The CRN 2016 Partner Marketing Guide

In the new era of the strategic service provider, marketing support from vendor partners has reached not a need-to-have, but a must-have, for today's transforming solution providers.

With that in mind, CRN has launched its first Partner Marketing Guide, a key resource of vendors that put a high priority on partner marketing efforts and the programs and support they offer to solution providers.

"We firmly believe that if we can help our partners be better marketers, we're going to see these partners grow," said Michelle Chiantera, vice president of global partner marketing for Cisco Systems, San Jose, Calif.

[2016 Partner Marketing Guide: What Is Your Best Piece Of Marketing Advice]

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That has become more important today as partners' potential customers—helped by the ubiquity of online information—have become better informed about what they want to buy before they even talk to a vendor or solution provider, she said.

"Partners are really starting to see marketing as a differentiator," added Tricia Atchison, vice president of global partner marketing for New York-based CA Technologies.

Today, that differentiator is based on an increasingly digital world.

"Partners do see that they've got to make a shift [toward using digital tactics], and they want to do it with their [vendors] because the expertise [they need may not be] at their fingertips," Chiantera said.

Richard Hutton, director of channel marketing for Samsung Electronics America, Ridgefield, N.J., said the cornerstone of a digital marketing strategy has changed. Now, he said, the trend is toward publishing thought leadership, such as white papers and blog posts, essentially generating interest without having to be aggressive to land a sale.

"Nobody likes being sold to today," Hutton said.

Marketing-savvy vendors know they are a critical resource in helping solution providers drive demand for their products and services, but realize that flexibility is key.

"I like to be flexible in the way they want to market," said Mary Catherine Wilson, director of North America channel marketing and programs for Dell, Round Rock, Texas.

Nonetheless, she added, members of her team talk every day with partners about their marketing plans, not only providing them with market development funds but also discussing what makes sense for their businesses in working with Dell.

The vendors in our Partner Marketing Guide appear on the following pages, along with highlights of each program and channel marketing executives' best marketing advice. Go to the full database for a look at each vendor's program.