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Reflecting back on 2020, it was the year that sent every industry into a tailspin. While it may be a year that we try to put behind us, it is important to reflect on how it changed our industry and transformed us for the future. This is especially true of marketing, as many marketers scramble to find alternatives to traditional channel marketing efforts such as in-person events.

Molly Sherwood, Senior Director, Marketing at SYNNEX

The EDGE360 editorial team connected with Molly Sherwood, Senior Director, Marketing at SYNNEX, about how this year shifted her outlook on channel marketing and what lessons were learned that will inform new marketing strategies for 2021.

Sherwood noted that while 2020 “wreaked havoc” in so many areas and industries, it has also created additional opportunity. “The saying ‘as one door closes, another opens’ really rings true this year,” she told us. “The customers on your sales pipeline report may look very different than they did one year ago today, and that’s an interesting opportunity for marketers.”

Sherwood led the SYNNEX Comstor’s award-winning, channel marketing program, EDGE, which focuses on helping partners engage, develop, grow, and extend their Cisco practices through partner enablement. She also points to a few practices that changed in 2020 and became a part of the “new normal” for engaging partners in the channel for 2021.

Digital Events

“We have all been forced to bring content delivery and connecting with partners to the virtual realm,” Sherwood stated. Despite marketing peers describing the phenomenon of “virtual fatigue,” Sherwood believes marketers are learning to get better at connecting virtually. “I firmly believe that the big switch will not flip back to doing events the way we did before. Instead, I believe we are in the process of creating what will become a new hybrid environment for events going forward,” Sherwood said.

Training

Sherwood explained, “With sales and technical teams grounded for now, it’s been a surprisingly perfect time to invest in certifications and skill-building.” One example she shared was the new SYNNEX Enablement Portal that SYNNEX launched this year for their reseller partners. “The timing could not have been better,” Sherwood shared. “We’ve also been able to invest more time in cross-training our own SYNNEX teams virtually and shifting more of our learning content to on-demand versus in-person.”

For 2021, Sherwood noted that it will be critical to continue to, “create new opportunities to connect differently with customers and partners. Don’t anticipate a return to ‘normal,’ and plan sales and go-to-market strategies that are hybrid, and transitional.”

Demand Generation

Understanding that 2021 will be different, it will be important to look at new demand generation approaches to connect with new prospects and customers, Sherwood explained. “SYNNEX has expanded the DEMANDSolv program with even more content and channels to fill out your sales pipeline. This, along with our other Comstor EDGE Managed Marketing offerings are at no cost to partners to participate.”

While Sherwood believes 2020 was all about adapting to the unexpected, she expects that 2021 will keep marketers pirouetting. “I’ve heard the term ‘pivot’ excessively this year and it conjures imagery of a marionette pirouetting endlessly, which is how I think many of us feel,” she shared. “Where this year we have had to re-do, re-think, and question how we manage our businesses, 2021 brings the promise of rebuilding and a return to some new form of stability.”