Digital marketing agencies comprise a key component of an enhanced comprehensive channel marketing program from Hewlett Packard Enterprise. To help partners expand revenue opportunities, accelerate delivery and transform client relationships as they go to market with a number of ‘as-a-Service’ offerings, HPE is providing easier and more affordable access to a global network of channel-proficient marketing services agencies (MSA.)
During a recent conversation with Channel Marketer Report (CMR), Laura Seymour, Senior Director, Global Channel Marketing at HPE, shared more insight into the MSA program.
CMR – When you described the MSA program during a briefing about an expanded channel marketing support program earlier this summer, I got the impression it was more extensive than offers made by other companies. How many agencies are you working with?
Laura Seymour — Essentially what we have is a global network of marketing services agencies — about 34 agencies that are covering over 40 countries. We have a minimum of one agency per country. For the majority of our countries, depending on the level of spend that we have and the number of partners we’re trying to support, that typically is good. In some places we have more than one agency. It just depends on the scale that we’re trying to reach in terms of the partners that we’re trying to serve.
CMR – Identifying digital marketing agencies that are channel proficient can be challenging. What’s your process?
Laura Seymour – We go through an RFP process at a country level. We look very much for their local presence and capabilities. We evaluate their skills and capabilities particularly around digital marketing, including marketing automation, and the capabilities that they can bring to the partner to help them deliver both integrated multichannel marketing and also omnichannel marketing. We also look for their capabilities across the end-to-end range of services, so that they can really deliver integrated activities to their customers.
We’re clearly also looking for agencies that have got a good knowledge and understanding of the IT market and of channel particularly and have a good ability to serve our partners as their clients. It’s important they understand how the channel works and how they can really serve their needs from a marketing perspective.
Also as part of that process we review and put in place agreed pricing that they would then make available to our partners through those contracts.
CMR – How do you work with the agencies to ensure HPE messaging is being shared through the partners?
Laura Seymour — We provision the agencies with the latest content and campaigns. We give them clear guidance around the strategic focus from an HPE perspective, and then they work directly with our partners to plan, build, execute the campaigns, the digital activities, and customize them obviously for the partners. My team briefs them from a global perspective on all the campaigns that are available from HPE. Our marketing services agencies have local contacts within our local teams too.
We’ll give them clear direction in terms of what we’re prioritizing from a company perspective, and all the content, campaigns and materials to help them then build and execute the campaigns.
Many of our marketing services agencies then build what I would call packaged campaigns. They’ve got a lot of ingredients, but then what they do is they’ll build them into a couple of different menus so that, depending on what the partner is looking to achieve, depending on their own marketing objectives — obviously aligned back to the priorities we’re trying to drive — they can build, customize and execute the campaigns. They prepackage those to some degree as well, to afford some of the efficiencies of being able to get speed to market and also help our partners execute these effectively.
Of course, we also brief them on the strategic priorities that are aligned to our MDF program.
CMR – Well since you mentioned MDF, can you tell us a little more how about how you are allocating MDF to access agency support?
Laura Seymour — The campaigns that the marketing services agencies execute are predominantly funded with MDF, depending on the campaign, depending on the local market. There are some instances where it’s 100% funded with MDF. There are many local markets where there is some contribution that the partner would make towards that campaign cost as well.
Typically we identify a program or focus of initiative that we want to drive and a campaign to support. Then the local country organization with funding available identifies partners the MSA could work with to drive that campaign.
Partners, of course, can express an interest to run a specific campaign with the MSA. They can request funding through our planning process from an HPE perspective. The MSA will also work with the local HPE team to identify who would be target partners to work with in that particular area.
CMR — How widespread among your partner community has been engagement with the MSA program?
Laura Seymour — Interestingly, it actually serves all levels. We have silver partners who may not have the expertise or resources themselves. We also have gold partners who work with MSAs. Actually we also have quite a large number of platinum partners who also work with the MSAs and run additional campaigns with the them, and perhaps have their own resources working on other activities.
But one of the key benefits of the marketing services agency is it can provide partners with access to expertise and resources that they may not have in house. It also can give them quick access to executing HPE-led campaigns or HPE-branded campaigns, or execute in their own brand.
I think the value proposition is certainly there for the mid to smaller partners who maybe don’t have that in-house resource or expertise or an agency of their own. Or they want to be able to benefit by working an agency that is already trained and briefed on the HPE content and value proposition that they can then take to market by executing HPE-led campaigns or HPE-branded campaigns, or executing in their own brand.
Bringing that all together, the partners benefit significantly by executing campaigns through the MSAs.