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Cisco touts marketing tools for Canadian partners

The company wants the channel here to take advantage of the now bilingual Partner Marketing Central

Cisco Canada is touting its partner marketing central tools, after spending the months since the global launch making the program fully bilingual for Canadian partners.

Partner Marketing Central (PMC) is a self-service portal where partners can access resources such as whitepapers and third party marketing help. The focus on PMC is part of the company’s overall Partner Led program, its strategy for the midmarket.

PMC launched during the vendor’s partner conference last year, but was “officially” launched in Canada this month. Cisco has spent the time ensuring the tools are all available in English and French.

Now, Cisco is encouraging its Canadian partners to actually use the program and is looking for partner feedback to improve the tools. “We really want their feedback to continue building upon the assets that they’re looking for,” said Holly Marasco, director of channel and commercial marketing at Cisco Canada.

The material found in PMC is consistent globally, but Marasco said Cisco took into account what different areas worldwide required and created tools that would work for various markets.

In July, Cisco conducted a survey of partner needs and found that more than 70 per cent rely on vendors for co-branded marketing, even if they have their own marketing staff, Marasco said.

Related story: Cisco updates midmarket UC systems

“We built them a brief marketing guide which really provides them some best practices for a 12 month marketing plan,” she said, which is included in PMC.

PMC combines the campaign centre, where partners can use co-branded materials and customizable templates for e-mail marketing or presentations and find copy for Web sites and “competitive battle cards” among other assets.

Another part of PMC is the event centre, built for planning and tracking the effectiveness of events through tools such as registration management. The event centre is also linked to Facebook and Twitter, so partners can market their events directly from PMC.

The third module includes full-service marketing tools and requires funding, though Cisco has negotiated volume pricing according to Marasco. Premier, silver and gold partners have co-marketing funds, while other partners can use their own funds. Partners can use a search tool within PMC to find options for third parties, along with pricing, for integrated marketing campaigns.

Through the full-service marketing module, partners can work with third party firms for telemarketing campaigns, case studies or other material for their Web sites, and social media management.

Bridge Corporate Communications, a systems integrator based in Winnipeg, used marketing funds to hire a third party social marketing company.

Bridge, which targets SMB customers and resells unified communications solutions, doesn’t currently have its own in-house marketing team, and has only been in business for about 18 months.

The company used PMC to find a company that now handles its social media, apart from the occasional tweet from its president Michael Ferguson and his staff. The marketing company helped Bridge create YouTube videos for promotion and handles its LinkedIn account.

“Really, from a social media perspective, it’s hands off for me,” Ferguson said, which means he and his sales director can focus on closing deals.

Through its social marketing campaign, Bridge was able to generate 51 leads and close 5 sales, generating about $210,000 in revenue. “Really find somebody who can manage that for you properly, because it’s not managed properly, it can obviously hurt you,” Ferguson said.

The company also used PMC for a telemarketing program and e-mail campaign, which led to another $40,000 and $38,000 of revenue respectively. “I guess my advice would be, it’s available and it’s an excellent program.”

Follow Harmeet Singh on Twitter: @HarmeetCDN