Podcast image - Hybrid working: is it here to stay?

Our latest podcast - Hybrid working: is it here to stay?

COVID-19 has accelerated the move to hybrid working for many businesses. As lockdowns were imposed and offices closed, the cloud became essential for accommodating remote employees. However, now that life—and business—is beginning to get back to normal, what does this mean for hybrid working? Is it here to stay? We called Rebecca Zaagman and Adam Devereaux, IT specialists at Worksighted and asked them if hybrid working may be the key to success for growing businesses now and in the future.

Microsoft's Gavriella Schuster on resilience, triumph and transformation in business today

What a year it’s been. We caught up with Gavriella Schuster, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft’s One Commercial Partner, to get her take on the past twelve months and what’s been happening with Microsoft partners around the world. You can listen to the conversation in full in our podcast here.  


Staying connected

Speaking about Microsoft’s partners’ experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gavriella described a situation many can relate to. Suddenly, with working from home and travel restrictions, partners have been presented with more time. This has meant added potential for productivity but has introduced new issues when it comes to staying connected, so the number of roundtables and checkpoints taking place via Teams have increased accordingly.


“...setting boundaries so that work doesn’t become a 24-hour sport...”


On the flipside, Gavriella and the partners have also had to ensure they aren’t too connected. That means nurturing the right work/life balance, preventing ‘camera fatigue’, and thinking about how to help people thrive in the ‘new normal’ of work. And cometh the hour, cometh the new Microsoft solution. 


Viva la Viva

As Gavriella told us, the launch of Microsoft Viva early in 2021 was a culmination of Microsoft’s learnings throughout the pandemic, and was developed with three aims in mind:

  • Building resilience 
  • Putting people first 
  • Staying connected

Viva brings together communications, knowledge, learning and insight into a single integrated employee experience directly in Microsoft Teams. It’s there to empower people and teams to be their best wherever and however they work and bring organisation and flow to all the elements workers needs to be successful.


“We really want people to work smarter, not longer. 


Boosting businesses’ immune systems

“No business is immune to a crisis and no business is 100% resilient.” We definitely agree with Gavriella on this point. And we also agree with her following remark: “But digital businesses and those fortified with digital capabilities have been able to pivot more rapidly.”

If the previous 12 months have taught us anything, it’s that organisations need the capability to digitally connect every facet of their business.  A positive, lasting legacy from 2020 may be that partners and customers across the world have created the networks needed for that connection. Something that may have begun as a measure to safeguard business continuity has the potential to be much more, improving speed of business in all kinds of ways – from customers to employees to operations to products.  


Helping customers prevail in a crisis

We discussed partners’ responses to the pandemic. The key opportunities have been around remote work: getting customers up and running remotely quickly, ensuring their business continuity and resilience, and putting everything in a ‘bubble of security’ – data, users and infrastructure. Gavriella was impressed by partners’ innovation and how they’ve swiftly and decisively responded to this need, dubbing them ‘digital first responders’.


...incredible speed, agility and work...”


For those unfamiliar with the term, a first responder is someone who is among the first to arrive at the scene of an emergency and provide assistance. The digital first responders of the Microsoft Partner Network have done just that in response to the COVID-19 crisis, answering customers’ callsputting them first, minimising downtime and enabling business to go on.

Gavriella was struck by how these partners were able to get customers up and running in as little as 24 hours and complete cloud migrations in just a quarter of a year instead of as much as 18 months. They should be very proud of these achievements, we think  and it’s a great reflection on the Microsoft Partner Network as a whole.


“The best of our partners has come out through this.”


As we’ve also heard from many of our clients over the last yearGavriella noted that Microsoft Power Apps was a very useful tool in a partner’s pandemic toolbox. The low-code development platform’s capabilities for creating bespoke software solutions made it the perfect digital Swiss army knife for organizations everywhere.

With Power Apps, partners could quickly and easily “plug holes and create new business process”, as Gavriella put it. The platform’s value has definitely been put to the test, demonstrated immense value and will now be a firm fixture in many businesses’ innovation initiatives in the future.  


Gavriella’s advice for Microsoft Partner marketing

Toward the end of our talk, we brought up a topic we’d been particularly eager to discuss: marketing strategy. We wanted to know Gavriella’s thoughts on what makes for the most successful Microsoft Partner marketing now and moving forward. She provided some excellent advice which we agree with wholeheartedly.


Hone in on a single thing that makes you really stand out.”


Gavriella emphasised the need to focus on your value proposition and what differentiates you, your business model, your engagement strategy and the solutions you deliver. As she says, that’s how to ensure your organisation stands out from countless others and gets your unique value across to customers.

Once a partner has defined the compelling core of their value proposition, it’s time to make it their digital marketing platformIt’s important to be clear about it and be sure to communicate it in the simple language that’s as accessible and compelling to your audience as possible.


Make sure that you’re not talking tech... but talking outcomes.”


Gavriella was preaching to the choir here. At Fifty Five and Five we are firm believers in telling powerful, benefit-led marketing stories that present clients’ full valuereally speak to their customers and address their goals and challenges – instead of just bombarding them with technical terminologyThat’s central to our approach to business-to-business tech marketing – before the COVID-19 outbreaktodayand long into the future.

Aalways, it was great to catch up with Gavriella, and we’re always fortunate when she shares her insights with us.

If you want to hear everything Gavriella said, including her advice for women in tech todayit’s all here in our podcastOr if you’d like to discuss how Fifty Five and Five can help you reach your marketing goals, just get in touch.

Podcast image - Is this the end of the world...run on spreadsheets?

Our latest podcast - The future of work with Gavriella Schuster

In episode #6 of our podcast we are embracing video! And we have a special guest, none other than Gavriella Schuster, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft’s One Commercial Partner.

The current landscape has provided a massive opportunity for B2B technology companies to help their customers negotiate a world of remote and hybrid working, and at the same time take advantage of the need that organisations of all sizes have for technology. We’re moving into a world where hybrid working is the norm, the modern workplace is digital, and the strength of your business may come down to the power of your solutions.

Who better to help us discuss this subject matter than Gavriella?

In this episode, we’ll discuss:  

  • The changing face of work in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The role technology has to play in bringing remote employees and hybrid workplaces together
  • The opportunity for Microsoft partners to help shape the future of how we work
  • The role marketing can play to help partners take advantage of this opportunity



Podcast image - Microsoft Partner Top 50 edition with Nick Rameka of LiveTiles

Our latest podcast - Plan, build, love

In episode #5 of our podcast, we discuss the process of designing, planning and executing a B2B marketing strategy that not only incorporates a unique brand vision but actively achieves its goals, over and over again. Joining us from the B2B marketing big leagues is Lisa Curry, Head of Marketing at Chorus. Chorus is an award-winning Managed Service Provider specialising in the design, delivery and management of cloud services. Discover how this leading Microsoft partner runs a very successful marketing operation.

Illustration retro microphone

Is Microsoft Teams the future of all business collaboration?

In episode #4 of our podcast, we discuss a recent change in the way businesses interact with Microsoft collaboration software. Once upon a time, Microsoft collaboration technology centered around SharePoint, Outlook and Yammer. Now Teams is becoming a ‘base of operations’ for the way people work, with SharePoint and Outlook left out in the cold.

We’re joined by Lesley Crook, a Microsoft MVP and Modern Workplace Consultant for Symity Ltd. Symity specialise in Teams meeting rooms and telephony services, and Lesley has plenty to say on: The reasons for this change in collaboration habits, Teams’ potential as a ‘base of operations’, the limitations of Teams and the potential for the future.

Podcast image - Is this the end of the world...run on spreadsheets?

Is this the end of the world...run on spreadsheets?

In episode #3 of our podcast, we ask - Is it time for businesses to end their relationship with spreadsheets and ‘start seeing other people’? We chat to Mark Bodger and Chris Harman from ICit Business Intelligence. A pair of industry veterans in the world of financial and operational planning, who are here to tell you to end your monogamous relationship with spreadsheets once and for all or face the fallout from being a tech laggard in your industry. Listen now.

Podcast image - Hybrid working: is it here to stay?

How we did it. The inside scoop on the Microsoft Partner Top 50

Episode #2 of our podcast is about the Microsoft Partner Top 50. For the last six years, Fifty Five and Five have produced an annual inbound marketing excellence report, celebrating the marketing efforts of organisations across the Microsoft Partner Network. In this episode we speak to Fifty Five and Five’s Barnaby Ellis (Head of Creative) and Stephen Reilly (Head of Content), about the release of the new Top 50 website, the transformation from hard copy report to a digital website. We also discuss the origins of the Top 50, from a piece of marketing in its own right to a solution that helps partners of all sizes improve their inbound marketing.

Illustration retro microphone

Microsoft Partner Top 50 edition with Nick Rameka of LiveTiles

In this first ever episode of our podcast we speak to Nick Rameka, the CMO at LiveTiles, about brand evolution, pandemic priorities and marketing advice for other Microsoft partners. LiveTiles are a maverick marketing voice in the Microsoft Partner Network, and we were delighted to get his take on the marketing landscape in such a tumultuous year. Nick reveals the content marketing trends he sees coming around the corner and what remote working practices we can expect to stick as we try to put 2020 behind us.

international content marketing association winner

Fifty Five and Five take home Silver at the International Content Marketing Association (CMA) Awards

The International Content Marketing Association Awards are a pretty big deal in the content marketing calendar. Agencies across the world submit their best work from the past year to be judged by some of the top names in the industry.  The event provides a brilliant showcase of expertise, talent and insight for brand marketers, and this year we’re delighted to have won an award for our Microsoft Partner Benchmarking Tool.

With entries from 23 countries and almost 150 individual agencies, we couldn’t be prouder to have won the Silver award for Best Use of Data and Insight. A lot of hard work went into creating our Partner Benchmarking Tool, and to have it recognised at such prestigious awards is a real honour.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Partner Benchmarking Tool was built to provide real-time insights for Microsoft partners, so that they could quickly identify which aspects of their content marketing strategies needed improvement. By simply entering a URL, users can put their website, blog and social through 40 tests that quantify performance and provide results in seconds.

The data pulled in this process allows users to diagnose the health of a whole range of inbound marketing factors. And, as the results are presented in a simple score format, it’s easy to see where improvement is needed.

partner benchmarking tool scores

Following their results, users are given access to a range of informative, how-to videos and tutorials full of actionable advice for getting better scores in the future. Relevant content is tailored to each user, based on the strengths and weaknesses gleaned from the analysis.

Microsoft has made the Partner Benchmarking Tool accessible to all 500,000 partners via the Smart Partner Marketing Portal. As such, marketing teams around the world are being inspired and empowered to achieve more with their content marketing efforts.

Interested in learning more about what our marketing tool can do for your business? This post provides a round up.

Whilst we believe in celebrating our successes here at Fifty Five and Five (and we’ll certainly be raising a toast later today) we don’t plan on stopping here. We’re constantly working to refine our services so that we can provide more value for our fab clients.

There are some exciting projects in the pipeline, including work on a brand new concept for an Insights Report (more on that later…). Alongside Insights, we’re also investing more time into social selling and content marketing research, so that we can keep delivering top quality advice and strategies that help our clients thrive.

Check out our fool-proof guide to content marketing, designed to help B2B marketers put together a killer content strategy.

We’d like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to the International Content Marketing Association Awards for their recognition. It’s such an awesome time to be a player in the digital marketing landscape, and we can’t wait to share more great tools, content and insights with you.

For now, feel free to check out our library of existing marketing content here.

Uncovered: The link between social selling and ROI

Once upon a time, digital marketing was still a fledgling field – and many were sceptical of the effects it can have and the leads it can produce. Today, however, that has changed – and the majority of modern businesses accept the benefits that a fully inbound approach to marketing, including social selling, can provide. In short – most businesses know that social media marketing works.

Despite this, however, the details of exactly how it works remain unclear to many businesses. Companies struggle to predict the size of leads and the return on investment that a social campaign will generate.

  • How much ROI can a social campaign be expected to produce?
  • What types of social media are most effective?
  • Which platforms provide the highest ROI.

In our latest Insights report, ‘Social Selling and Return on Investment’, we researched and quantified these precise links, using research from the social strategies of over 90 Microsoft Partner Companies. In fact, this research is the first of its kind to measure social selling outcomes specifically within B2B Microsoft Partner Businesses.

What did we measure – and how?

The main objective of our study was to discover the financial link between social selling and ROI. The report conclusively and definitively found that this correlation exists. But as well as this, we looked into a range of other relationships and correlations that allowed us to uncover unprecedented insights into the effect of contemporary social selling strategies.

Using data from over 90 Microsoft Partner Companies, we compared metrics on:

  • Frequency of social posts
  • The platform they were posted on
  • The success of different content types
  • Financial investment in social selling

To unlock our exclusive insights, each of these variables were compared against the average number of leads that Partner businesses achieved.

Our investigation determines the proportion of marketing and social budgets that partners spent in order to achieve a specific quantity of monthly leads. With this information, contemporary digital marketing departments are armed with an exclusive range of insights that will allow them to plan and execute an effective digital marketing campaign.

What we discovered

The main objective of our research was to find a correlation between the amount of money that companies invested into their social campaigns, and the subsequent leads they generated. Without giving away the full findings, here’s a brief look at some of what we discovered.

  • Companies that used social media more frequently achieved the largest size of deals
  • Videos and animations were most often posted by companies with the highest quantity of leads.
  • There was little to no difference in size and amount of leads generated between companies with minimal social presence and those with none whatsoever.

As well as these statistics, the report also features more detailed, quantified insights into the following questions

  • The precise dollar value that high social scorers achieve on average
  • The average number and size of leads generated by companies who posted weekly, monthly, and less than monthly
  • Which types of social content are most effective
  • Which platforms generated most leads
  • The correlation between social selling budget and quantity of leads generated

Armed with this information, marketers have a wealth of valuable information that will allow them to identify every element of an effective social selling campaign.

Insights from the experts

As well as these exclusive insights, the report also features exclusive insights from expert Microsoft Partner marketers right across the ecosystem. In one of these examples, David Lavenda from harmon.ie perfectly encapsulates the gap in research that this report fills:

There’s a gap between the buying and selling cycle. So, while most companies use social media, not everybody sees it as a direct sales tool of its own merit.

-David Lavenda

As well as this, we discuss a range of independent insights into the types of marketing strategies that work for individual businesses – and how they’ve found success.

For us, it’s about visibility. It’s not necessarily about direct sales, but rather that social selling acts as an influencer.

-Matthias Seidel

These practical insights and opinions provide real-world proof to the research, correlations, and statistics that this report uncovers.

Get the report

With ‘Social Selling and Return on Investment’, Microsoft Partner marketers will have access to the most specific and exclusive range of insights into the success of their marketing strategies available.

If you want to find out more, or buy a copy of the report for yourself today, head on over to the Insights Website today. Alternatively, get in touch with the Insights team today to find out more.