Man looking at Microsoft Top 50 partner stats

Microsoft Partner Top 50 – the highlights at halftime

We’re more than halfway through 2021, so, we thought it was the perfect time to take a breather, do some mid-season analysis, and look at the current state of play in our ongoing digital 2020/2021 Microsoft Partner Top 50 table. The Top 50 is where we and our proprietary algorithm rank partners based on their digital marketing.

Today, we’ll be casting a keen pundit’s eye over the movers and shakers, the surprises and the solid bets, and deliver some commentary on some of the partners that have done particularly well – and how they’ve done it.

Big risers in the league table

To kick off, let’s take a gander at some Microsoft partners who’ve made the biggest jump in the rankings this year. These partners have performed stunningly since October/November 2020, and that’s been reflected in how well their positions have improved since then.

 

Bizagi 

This partner, specialising in intelligent process automation, began outside the Top 130 back in Autumn 2020. But since then, they’ve been in and out of Top 10 at the turn of the year and have been Top 5 now since February. At the time of writing, Bizagi is the highest scorer for content, with an excellent, regularly updated blog, wide array of valuable downloadable resources, and more.

 

Catapult Systems 

IT services firm Catapult started well outside the Top 130 and have made steady improvement throughout. They’re now a regular Top 30 performer, ranking highly for SEO thanks to their highly optimised digital presence. They draw valuable traffic thanks to a broad scope of focus that targets many different customer industries and service areas, with all the right search touchpoints covered.

 

“This a great example of speaking to an increasingly business-focused audience.” – Catapult Systems’ Top 50 profile

 

TechQuarters 

TechQuarters, an IT support and Office 365 migrations company, had stayed mostly outside the Top 100 until recently, although they occasionally dipped into it. However, April saw a monumental leap, as they landed in the Top 10 and haven’t left it since. TechQuarters are also scoring very highly for SEO right now and are clearly winning big with both the search engines and visitors to their website.

 

Top 5 ever-presents

Nintex, NTT Ltd. and LiveTiles have been in the Top 5 since November 8th, with high all-round performance across our categories throughout the entire period. Each of these partners has long been well-known for their diligently curated digital presence, and we’re pleased to see them going from strength to strength.

 

Elsewhere among the top-ranking Microsoft partners, SkyKick has been in the Top 10 every week since the Top 50 was launched. A very strong showing from the cloud management software provider, and we’d attribute some of that to their spot-on tone-of-voice as well as brilliant work in content and search.

 

“Clear, consistent and full of value, they are doing inbound marketing the way it was meant to be done.” – SkyKick’s Top 50 profile

 

Always in the Top 20

The following partners have consistently remained in the Top 20. Many are familiar faces who have performed well in previous years’ Top 50s. They’ve outdone themselves this time, too:

 

harmon.ie – great social media presence and content

Pyramid Analytics – one of the very highest SEO scores

Veeam – engaging, detailed and valuable content

Sherweb – clear, compelling brand identity and value proposition

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) – excellent content and social channels

Automated Intelligence – expertise displayed compellingly and credibly

 

“Storytelling is crucial to generating a following on social media, and HPE are better at it than most.” – Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Top 50 profile

 

Special mentions

As our roundup draws to a close, we’d like to give a shoutout to a range of partners who have solidly stayed within the Microsoft Partner Top 50 all this time. There are too many to put a spotlight on individually, but each and every one has done great work cementing their positions so far:

 

ENow Nuix
Modality Systems BitTitan
Trend Micro Hitachi Solutions
Talk Think Do Cyber Ark
Cognizant Infragistics
Air IT Rackspace
Qorus Beezy
Okta ThirdSpace
KnowledgeWave Nutanix

 

There’s still everything to play for in the Microsoft Partner Top 50

We hope you’ve enjoyed our roundup. If you’re a Microsoft Partner and you weren’t featured, don’t worry – the game is still underway. Who knows what the next few months will bring? You could well be one of the top-ranking Microsoft partners in the Top 10 or even Top 5 next time we give our commentary.

 

Meanwhile, keep checking our continuously updated Top 50 Microsoft Partners to see how you and other partners are doing. Good luck!


It’s expo season and we’re still grounded

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is still causing many exhibitions and conferences to rethink how they host events this year. For many, seminars, keynotes and workshops have moved online. And while it’s impossible to replace the networking and chance encounters you find at in-person events, thanks to cloud computing and some nifty platforms, you can still attend and create online events that pull in the crowds and bring you face-to-face (sort of) with potential leads and partners.

 

This blog looks at how, even if you can’t attend a show IRL, you can still obtain the benefits of online event marketing and promote your digital brand presence. This is for companies who want to know how to get the best out of expo season (both in terms of attending and staging events) from the comfort of your home or office.

 

Online event marketing and virtual networking

First, for those who regularly attend expos and events in person, you’ll know. It’s almost impossible to replace the ad-hoc encounter that leads to something great. However, with a good plan of action you can attend even more events online (without the travel or hotel costs) and up your networking numbers that way.

 

Create a digital version of yourself

When it comes to putting your best foot forward online, it’s important to update your social media profiles (largely LinkedIn and Twitter) to represent your current circumstances. So, for individuals, that means making sure your job title and work profiles are not out of date. So, for LinkedIn you should connect with your colleagues, like and share your company’s posts, as well as connect with people who are relevant to your professional world. Think about who you’d like to meet in ‘real life’ and try to befriend them online.

 

For organisations, this also means posting up-to-date content that is relevant to your audience in the run-up to any online events. Choose from the events that are out there and tailor your content and other posts to fit. If you’re thinking about creating a webinar or other kind of online event, posting quality content to engage your audience is also a must.

 

Attend events

To make the most of ‘event season’, search around for the usual events your sales, marketing or developer teams usually attend. Find out when and where they are happening. Then make a schedule of events, encourage your teams to pick and choose events they will get value from, and book yourself in. This way, you can keep a profile of what events are happening, who’s attending and what you hope to get out of them.

 

Looking for value from expos and events will vary depending on what your organisation does. For most of our clients, attending keynotes from large technology partners, networking with other partners and amplifying their product or services to gain leads is a key reason they attend these events in the first place.

 

Host online events

The last year has taught many of us that it doesn’t actually take that much to create and host an event yourself. This can be a great way to amplify your digital brand presence. Thanks to cloud computing tools, setting up several webinars, inviting guest speakers and presenters over consecutive days is cheaper and faster than you might imagine.

 

Webinar for leads

Creating a webinar is more straightforward than you might think. It’s also a tried and tested way of bringing in those precious leads.

 

Our advice

  • Consider your subject: what does your audience want to hear and see?
  • Bring in a big name: who can you bring in as a guest speaker to liven things up?
  • Create your presentations: much in the same way you would for sales or marketing proposals. Add multimedia to make your webinar as engaging as possible.
  • Start a conversation: the great thing about hosting a webinar is you get a live response to your work. Make sure to include a Q&A session, so your audience can contribute.
  • Promote your event ahead of time: use social media, blog posts and other marketing channels to make sure your audience knows when and where your event is happening.

 

Web summit for industry presence

Create a web summit where you showcase your company’s thought leadership and/or demonstrate the value of your solutions live (and on-demand) to your leads. This is an excellent way to create essentially a several-day event that showcases your company’s expertise.

 

Our advice

You could think of a web summit simply as a series of webinars. You can tie them together thematically or separate different subjects on each day of the event. Creating a landing page or even microsite is a good way of making sure all the right information for your audience is in one place.

 

Release an industry report

Industry reports demonstrate your expertise and show that you truly have your finger on the pulse of your target audience’s wants and needs. Understanding your industry and going really in-depth with your subject matter is a differentiator and will make you stand out in a crowded marketplace.

 

Our advice

Decide on your subject matter. So much of your success will be tapping into the right subject that engages your readers. You already have reams of experience and expertise at your fingertips. Use it. Create a team in your business who can come up with a good idea for a report. Consider creating a survey for your customers, both current and potential, and get some on the ground data that you can use to create some electrifying content.

 

 

Partner with the experts to bring your online event to life

Even if you have a lot of experience creating online events, you could always use a helping hand. And if you’re only thinking about dipping your toe in the water, a marketing partner with experience of creating online events is a good way to go.

 

At Fifty Five and Five, we use our extensive online event marketing experience to develop content that speaks to our clients’ audience. And that includes helping create the narrative and strategy around your online events. Get in touch today.


I hate ‘things’

I hate 'things'. Or more accurately, I hate being asked for 'things'. It's a pet peeve of mine.

We frequently get asked if we can create a whitepaper, a video, an infographic, a podcast, a blog post, etc. And I always wonder "why?"

I'm not questioning whether we're the right agency to create these kinds of impactful, effective marketing materials. We do this sort of work all the time for clients like Dell, Arrow, Microsoft, Google, etc.

And it's not the formats per se. All these might have a place in your strategy but if you ask for a 'thing', I am going to ask 'why?'.

 

Raison d'être

Our whole business is built on the belief that we can't solve a problem we don't understand. It’s the reason we're called Fifty Five and Five. It might be that the things you want are exactly what are needed but we need to take a step back first and consider what you are trying to achieve.

Whether you’re a new client (especially if you are a new client) or we’re working with a new brief or department of someone we've worked with for years – we always start with the why:

 

Why are we doing this? How does it help you achieve your business objectives?

 

Digital marketing has become insanely commoditised over the last 10 years. Everyone, regardless of their marketing experience, is only a few clicks away from all the tools they need: email and CRM services, DIY website builders, podcast broadcasting, blogging platforms, even automated brand identity tools.

And machine learning and automation might make 'things' even easier to create and launch. But as these tools get smarter, they will only truly add value to your plans if applied in the right way.

 

Disclaimer

This is not an agency land grab - "give it all to us and we'll be your marketing arm and (slightly cliched) 'extension' to your team".

We're not afraid to tell you if we're not right for a particular assignment. Whether that's because you have the tools and skills in-house or an existing partner that already does what you need. But we won't know if we don't ask.

So, if you come to us with a request for an animation, yes, of course. We'd love to help. But I'll want to know why, specifically, do you want an animation? How does this fit into the broader strategy? Who is the audience? And what are we ultimately trying to achieve?

We'll ask these questions before we start quoting, storyboarding and scripting. You might have all the answers. An animation might be perfect. And you may already have all the right tools in place to help create, test, broadcast, measure, the work.

But it should always start with the question, 'why?'.

 

We can't add value if we don't understand the context

 

P.S.

As well as 'things', I also hate:

  • The term 'eBook' (what is that? an electronic book? a PDF?)
  • Replacing the printer paper only to see someone else's job queued up (argh!)
  • Peas (I know I'm in the minority here)

For balance, there are some things I love:

  • Clients who are passionate about their businesses
  • Anybody with an open mind who is willing to challenge the status quo
  • People with the patience to listen to my questions (sorry, but sometimes I don't know what I don't know!)

 

If this sounds like you, then drop me a line. I'd love to hear about you and your business. I'll come with the questions.


Boost your business: partner with Microsoft (or another leading tech company)

Since Fifty Five and Five was founded in 2014, we’ve worked extensively with Microsoft’s partner companies and with Microsoft itself. It’s no secret that during the agency’s early years, we soon made our name as ‘the Microsoft marketing experts' – a badge we still wear with pride today. Although we've diversified and expanded our client list a great deal since then, we’ll always be glad to be part of Microsoft’s world.

 

Developing a relationship with one of the big players in the tech landscape can do wonders for your business. It can open an entirely new horizon of opportunities, paving your organisation’s path to future growth and success. In this article, I’ll explore the best ways to go about doing that.

 

The value of partner networks

If you want to get closer to one of the industry’s heavy hitters, the first thing you can do is to look at all the other companies who’ve done so. Partner networks such as the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) are full of organisations who had the same goal as you have now. Partner with Microsoft or another tech titan and it can be the start of a highly beneficial arrangement – for both parties.

 

Whether they’re reselling a big brand’s products and services or providing something new that fits into that brand’s ecosystem, partner network members bring their own value to the bigger company’s table. And, in exchange, they receive access to new connections with other partners and affiliates, valuable partner-only resources as well as other benefits. More than enough reasons to hitch your wagon to an industry leader.

 

Making the most of your network membership

Ok, so you’re a partner network member. Now what? It’s time to double down and develop your relationship with the brand even further. You need to demonstrate even greater value and invest even further in cementing your place in this new ecosystem you’re now a part of.

 

Tailor your product or service

In our experience, the tech giants love it when one of their partners creates a new piece of intellectual property (IP) that uses their technology, extends their tools or accelerates customers’ ability to adopt their technology.

 

So, if your product or service can be shaped to do any or all of those things, that will set you in very good stead for a better and closer relationship. You may identify a valuable gap in the market that will appeal to customers within the brand’s ecosystem, as well as your fellow partners – they may want to resell your solution, for instance. Making the right moves here can be a very good – and profitable – thing for everyone.

 

Focus your marketing efforts

When you partner with Microsoft or another big-league brand, your partner status and relationships can be very beneficial to your marketing efforts – but only if you devote enough focus and energy to them. If you’re experts in the big brand’s technology, make sure your customers know that. If you’re a ‘gold partner’, for instance, then don’t just stop at putting a logo in your email signatures – shout it from the rooftops.

 

Microsoft and other brands take partner marketing very seriously, and they provide resources and funds to network members who want to broadcast the merits of their service or solution. So, whatever resources and guidance are available to you: seize them with both hands. They have the potential to boost your marketing efforts a huge amount.

 

Succeeding with partner marketing and growing the relationship

There is a hurdle that can stand in the way of your organisation really making the most of its partner network membership and taking your relationship with the brand as far as you want it to go. Here it is:

 

As mentioned, the most successful tech brands take marketing very seriously indeed. They pay great attention to the intricacies of their branding, for instance – it’s part of how they achieved their success and intend to continue it. They’re likely to have a whole raft of strict guidelines that need to be adhered to, laid out across a sometimes bewildering array of documentation. They are also likely to have defined and documented very specific marketing messaging that’s been carefully developed and will need to be reflected in all your promotional activities as a partner.

 

If your marketing materials don’t hit the mark, they’ll be out of sync with wider campaigns, won’t resonate with customers, and won’t paint a very good picture of your business for your high-flying partner. If it’s too far off the mark, your partner may even reject a proposed marketing campaign or asset entirely – or you could end up mired in endless revisions as you bring it up to scratch. That’s how seriously big technology brands take these matters. Trust us, we know.

 

So, how can you ensure you’ll avoid all the pitfalls and succeed?

 

Stay on-message and on-brand with the right partner marketing strategy

By working with a marketing agency that knows the brand well, they can help you meet all the requirements every time. They’ll help you define and follow a partner marketing strategy that will satisfy all parties – and deliver the best results. You can rest assured that everything you do will fit neatly into your partner’s ecosystem, with all the correct branding and messaging, as well as aligning with your organisation’s own wider strategic and marketing goals.

 

This kind of marketing agency can be an accelerator for long-term growth and success, helping you to nurture your most important relationships—including your technology partners. Ultimately, that may be one of the most valuable aspects of our work.

 

Interested in building your relationship with a technology giant such as Microsoft, or perhaps you want to grow in a particular market? Get in touch with the team at Fifty Five and Five today.