Happy New Year! 

This week I had the opportunity to present a LIVE MEETING to a group of 30 partners spread across the US.  The purpose of the meeting was to share the Local Engagement message.  I explained our mission – to help our partners increase their marketing reach through connections to local community & diversity groups, other Microsoft partners and complementary companies.  And I provided some real-life examples of how our partners are engaging in the community. 

As we wrapped up the presentation, a partner in South Dakota asked, “what is the secret sauce to success?”  Hmmm.  Great question.  The answer - DO SOMETHING!

There are tons of resources available to you as a partner.  Local Engagement and Ready-To-Go campaigns are a great first step.  Schedule an event.  Host a Live Meeting.  Post a blog.   Send out a newsletter.  Update your website. 

Microsoft has a ton of content to help you in your marketing efforts…but the critical step is doing something.  The new economy has influenced the way we need to do things.  Over the last year I have seen partners fall into 3 categories:

                 Duck and cover.  These partners are crossing their fingers.  They’ve done some things one-off.  Like sending out a postcard and hoping they get a return.  It didn’t work, and they are never doing it again.  Hope is not a strategy!

                 Cut, Cut Cut.  These partners are slashing expenses to the point of no return.  It is wise to shore up your expenses – Microsoft cut $3B last year.  But, if you view sales & marketing as an expense and not as investment, you risk cutting yourself out of the market altogether. 

                 Grow your share.  These partners are investing in their business.  They are taking advantage of the programs in front of them.  They are taking some risks…doing new things.   And they are growing their share.  Partners in this category have grown their revenue upwards of 25% in the last year.  And they are gaining share from the Duck & Cover and Cut, Cut, Cut groups!

Your mission for 2010, if you choose to accept it – DO SOMETHING!  Leverage your chamber relationship.  Partner with a local Microsoft training partner.  Join a peer group like HTG or the IAMCP.  Take advantage of the programs provided by Microsoft.  Do something! 

Best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

John LaLonde

Microsoft Local Engagement Team, North Central