We just got back from WPC 2016!

UPDATE 24/01/2017….
We have just signed on to exhibit at WPC (now Inspire) ’17, and so will be heading to Washington DC in July. We’d love to see you there.

  • We had our own stand at the show
  • We met so many interesting people and companies
  • We distributed our Inbound Marketing Excellence report

Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference 2016 has come to a close, and we had a fantastic time over the course of the four day event. Meeting new faces and making new connections, it was a highly enjoyable and rewarding experience!

We already can’t wait until next year!

WPC 2016 was hosted at the Metro Centre in Toronto from 10th-14th July. A multi-national combination of exhibitors, speakers, mentors, volunteers and attendees from within the Microsoft Partner network, the convention housed nearly 17,000 like-minded people for networking opportunities, industry leading keynotes and even a party or two!

WPC 2016 was an especially big event for Fifty Five and Five, as we released the second edition of our Inbound Marketing excellence report. This year, we ranked over 25,000 Microsoft Partners on their Inbound Marketing efforts – ten times more than we did in 2015. From this Microsoft Partner pool, we narrowed it down to the top 250 based on three key areas of inbound marketing: blogging output, social media presence and website capability.

“None of this would be possible without the partners”

To kick off WPC 2016, the week began with a keynote from Satya Nadella. Satya highlighted the success of Office 365, Windows 10 and Dynamics, with a special focus on the importance of digital transformation and the digital workplace.

During the keynote, Satya welcomed a number of guests including Jeff Immelt from GE to announce the partnership for Predix platform and Microsoft Azure. Microsoft have recapped the whole conference on demand, so those that missed it can catch up on the latest info concerning the direction Microsoft is taking.

The conference was filled with speakers, breakout and engagement sessions with influencers, MVPs and attendees. One such speaking slot was held by Fifty Five and Five’s very own Chris Wright, who spoke about the importance of benchmarking your digital marketing efforts with reference to our new tool, Maya.

Maya is a free benchmarking tool for Microsoft partners – it can analyse your blog (in the same way we analysed partner blogs for our Top 50 report) to provide an ongoing and updated score of your marketing. Highlighting areas you’re doing well in and areas for improvement, Maya gives you a better understanding how your blog is performing. Why not test your websites URL and see how you score ?

We also managed to grab a seat at David Meerman-Scott’s ‘Marketing lessons from the Grateful Dead’ with five ideas we can take from the band – point number four being: the power of a selfie …

Over the three expo days, we met a number of partners who featured in our Top 50 Report, including the #1 ranked Sharegate. And yes … we got a Sharegate selfie with Microsoft MVP Benjamin Niaulin amongst many other Inbound Marketing Excellence finalists!

“It’s about celebrating what our customers are all doing with technology”

Although we spent most of the week in our fancy green Fifty Five and Five tshirts, we did get to hang them up in the evenings and get dressed to the nines for the Microsoft UK celebration party on the Tuesday. A fully-fledged James Bond black tie theme, complete with make-up stands, black jack tables and cabaret singers – we had a sparkling time with champagne under the chandeliers! A huge thank you to the UK Microsoft Partner team for a fantastic party.

We had a brilliant time at WPC 2016; we met so many inspiring individuals and partners to whom we hope to make lasting relationships with in the future. And a final shout out goes to Douglas Gruehl of Gridstore for his never ending cosmos and invaluable advice on wearing gold-studded footwear to be fabulous!

Did you make our Top 50 Inbound Marketing Excellence report?

  • Remember to put your keyword or phrase into the title of your blog post
  • Link your blog post to your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter accounts
  • Reference to other sites – it brings value to your content

The report, which is focused on the efforts of Microsoft Partners the world over, is available for free to download from our website today.

We’ve spent the last few months carrying out an in-depth analysis of the marketing efforts of Microsoft partners, and today’s Inbound Marketing Excellence report is the culmination of that work. We’ve included in-depth research and commentary on the efforts of the Top 50, as well as case studies, interviews with industry experts and op-eds from thought leaders including David Meerman Scott, Nintex and LiveTiles.

Inbound Marketing Excellence: Why a Top 50?

Inbound marketing is a term coined by Hubspot founder Dharmesh Shah. It can be defined in comparison with traditional marketing, whereby marketers would attempt to reach as large an audience as possible with billboards and magazine ads in the hope some of the readers might be interested. By contrast, inbound marketing is about helping people come to you by implementing a range of techniques from SEO-driven websites to blogs to social media presence.

B2B marketing is far from easy, and this is especially the case when it comes to marketing technology products. Vendors in the Microsoft Partner Network sell powerful, complicated and innovative tools and services. Successfully communicating the benefits of these tools, especially to a non-technical audience, can be a major challenge. However, through our work we regularly meet product vendors who are doing just that. The Inbound Marketing Excellence report, therefore, is intended to celebrate the efforts of these companies, and promote learning and best practise across the community of Microsoft Partners.

How did we decide?

There are literally thousands of product vendors in the Microsoft Partner Network. Some of these are major companies employing hundreds of employees, others are literally a ‘one-man band’. We looked at over 25,000 companies, whittling them down based on a variety of criteria. Check the report for the full criteria.

Once we’d got our short list, we decided to begin rating all the vendors therein across three metrics: website, Twitter and blog. Why these three measures, rather than say, email or paid search? Simply because these are the three most common inbound techniques used in 2016. Again full details are in the report.

With all the blogs, Tweets and websites rated, we now had a top 50. We then spent (a long) time looking through all the blogs, websites and Twitter feeds of everyone in the Top 50, discussing our thoughts on their approach and methods and turning this into useful, independent comment.

So, who came first?!

We’re very pleased to announce that Sharegate took the top spot in our Inbound Marketing Excellence report, for the 2nd year running. This is no mean feat at all, especially given the broader pool this year. Congratulations! Kudos particularly goes to their marketing team, led by Jean-Luc Brisebois.

Ten T’s of Toronto: See you all at WPC 2016!

  • Microsoft’s WorldWide Partner Conference 2016 is hosted in July with 15,000 attendees
  • 10 T’s of Toronto to help you prepare for the conference
  • For tux rental right through to travel visas: we’ve got you covered

Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference 2016 begins this Sunday, and we’re lucky enough to be heading to Toronto for the event. If you’re one of the 15,000 attendees who’ll be there too, we thought it best to offer the top ten ‘T’s’ of Toronto to get you fully ready for WPC 2016. From travel visas, tux rentals and Top 50 reports, this quick checklist will grant you access and get you prepared for all the best bits of Microsoft’s biggest Partner event of the year.

#1. Travel visa

Before you can even get to WPC 2016, you need to make sure that you can get into Canada! You need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), which requires your passport (which we should need no input on ensuring you have!) The application process takes about 10 minutes, there’s a $7 charge and it’s roughly a 48-hour wait for it to become finalised. The Visa will be added onto your passport ahead of your trip, so once it’s done, it’s done!

#2. Transfer and taxis

And once you touch down in Toronto, make sure that you plan ahead past the airport! Microsoft have teamed up with UP Express to provide WPC 2016 guests with complementary transport from Pearson International Airport to Union Station in Downtown Toronto. Simply download this letter, take it with you, and show it when travelling. There will also be shuttles running between a number of hotels helpfully outlined in this PDF.

#3. Time zone difference

If, like us, you may have clients and projects to work on during the week, you want to ensure that you’re on the right time zone, should you need to make contact with anyone back at home.  We’ve found this handy world clock (Toronto is on the right hand side of the list), and for anyone in the UK, Toronto are 5 hours behind us (EDT).

#4. Telephone chargers and laptops

An obvious point, but worth pointing out – don’t forget your chargers for phones, laptops, tablets, desktops, and even a charger for your chargers! If you’re live tweeting the event (follow us on Twitter as we’ll be covering the whole thing) you’ll want plenty of phone battery – don’t forget to use the hashtag #WPC16. Portable phone chargers are currently all the rage, and should you forget your own, we’ve got a backup plan for iPhone, Android, and Windows phone.

#5. Tux rental

This year, the Microsoft UK Partner party has the license to thrill, with its own James Bond theme, and it’s going to be Golden(Eye!). Guests are required to dress to impress – a black tie event for your best tuxes and evening gowns. Now, it’s all fun and games when you’re throwing out James Bond puns and having the generational debate on who was the best ‘Bond’, until you realise that in fact, this time it’s better to be overdressed than under (A quick tip for the gents, for those of you in the UK, we’re hiring our tuxedos from Moss Bros.)

Whilst on the topic of clothing and dress code, Microsoft recommend during the day, don’t wear uncomfortable shoes (perhaps a pair of flats in your bag if you’re braving high heels), as you’ll be up and about all day! They also highlight that despite the weather forecast to be 33 degrees outside (we would have added sun-cream to our checklist if it began with a T), the air-con will be cranked up; so when choosing your outfits, consider clothing you can wear into the evening.

#6. Tequila (and other WPC parties)

There are a number of parties and events organised for WPC over the course of the five days, with plenty of opportunities for networking and celebrating. We’ll be heading over to the Welcome Reception on Sunday, followed by the UK Partner party and the Microsoft Partner Celebration (featuring the incredible Gwen Stefani – we’ve found you a playlist to bring you up to scratch). Just a reminder to not forget your WPC passes to avoid any charges!

#7. Technology

Technology, of course, will play a starring role at WPC’16. Make sure you visit the Microsoft Technology Centre to see the latest and greatest in the Microsoft tech world. Check out the session types, get signed up for the keynote sessions, breakout presentations, panel discussions, workshops and all the rest with the industry experts.

At WPC, there are also a number of special offers for attendees including discount on Surface devices, Lumia phones, and XBOX consoles.

#8. Talks and keynotes

There will be so many exciting keynotes so get yourself organized. Microsoft have also provided a WPC 2016 agenda, so you can plan ahead and make the most of the experience. Microsoft have provided us with an incredible line up of Vision speakers including Satya Nadella, Kevin Turner, Gavriella Schuster and so many more! And if you can’t make WPC this year, don’t worry; the Vision Keynotes will be posted 24 hours after the speakers. There will also be a number of general sessions, and breakout sessions for you to join.

#9. Tourist destinations

Depending how long you’re in Toronto for, you may have the chance to see the sights. With plenty of boat trips, museums, festivals and a trip to Niagara Falls – which is just 2 hours away on the bus from Toronto – there is plenty to do, see, eat and drink!

#10. Top 50

And last but certainly not least, don’t forget to download our MS Top 50 Inbound Marketing Excellence report. Our second edition of the report has seen us rank 250 MS Partners on their Inbound Marketing efforts, with its official release at WPC 2016. With forewords from David Meerman Scott, and interviews from LiveTiles and Nintex, the report provides core inbound marketing insights alongside expert advice for Microsoft Partners looking to give their marketing a real boost. Come along to our stand #1718 (you’ll spot us in the green t-shirts) to see where your company ranks and to gain help and advice on your content marketing strategy.