Kathy Schneider looking to educate and train partners, and build social media advocates
Call it another sign of Dell’s continuing maturity in the channel market – the company recently appointed Kathy Schneider, who had been heading up EMEA channel marketing as the company’s first-ever global channel marketing boss.
But it’s a natural evolution for a channel program that has set out to be global in nature, Schneider said.
Her new role has her heading up the partner marketing team in the Americas, in EMEA, and two teams in APJ – one focused on channel programs and operations, and one on marketing – and working to make a single, cohesive partner marketing organization from that handful of teams around the world.
Perhaps the biggest different for Schneider is that the channel marketing team now sits within the commercial marketing organization at Dell, albeit with a very strong dotted line into Greg Davis’ global channel sales team.
“Now we’re part of the marketing function at Dell, we have a stronger voice and are part of meetings we may not have even known about in the past,” said the London-based Schneider of the new structure.
Goal one is to build “the basic organizational structure” the group needs to function as a global team, and to keep things in PartnerDirect and partner marketing as simple as possible during the process and Dell’s ever-ongoing integration of its various acquisitions. She feels Dell has an advantage in not having 20 years of legacy channel programs creating a labyrinth of programs and promotions, and aims to keep things as consistent – and simple – as possible.
“Profitable growth is important to partners, and that comes from [vendor programs] not being too complex,” she said. “We’re focused on keeping it simple, on ensuring that Dell is the easiest vendor to do business with.”
That means picking the best part of acquisition partner programs – the ones that incoming partners can’t do without – and blending them into the PartnerDirect structure. For Schneider, one of the challenges is making sure partners start selling more across the portfolio, particularly within a given genre. For example, she said, the company is looking to broaden its storage partners’ businesses, so that it doesn’t just have partners focused on its Compellent lineup, but across the broader storage business.
Dell has exploded in the social media marketing realm, and Schneider said one of her top priorities is to bring that same excitement to the channel base, both to help them bolster their own social media savvy and to create stronger advocates in the marketplace. The first steps are already in place, as the company is doing social media training with partners via Webinar, focusing on understanding social media and how to best leverage Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, et al for their benefit. On one hand, it makes sense, because it can be a force-multiplier and an odds-evener for smaller Dell partners that don’t have extensive marketing budgets. At the same time, those same partners are also likely to be tight on marketing resources to make successful campaigns happen.
But if Dell’s successful, it will not only help its channel partners boost their marketing acumen, Schneider reckons it will create itself stauncher allies, the kind of partners who “will root for Dell and stand up for Dell in the marketplace.”
“That’s really a key thing, that’s moving beyond training to wining the hearts and minds, building a real community of partners around Dell,” she said.
While those are the top priority, she hinted that partners should expect to see “more innovation and creativity” in Dell’s marketing campaigns both through and to channel partners. “I’d like to break through a little bit more, to try some new things with our partners,” she said.
One of those first things is introducing channel marketing councils like the ones Dell’s been working with in EMEA. That effort started at a country level and soon moved up to the regional level, and allowed Dell to engage partner marketers at a much deeper level than any marketing discussion at the business-centric partner advisory council level might have allowed, Schneider suggested.
“If you’re talking to the sales and business leaders, the discussion is very much around field engagement and pipeline identification, and all of that is great and very necessary,” she said. “But with the marketing departments in the room we’re finding out if our marketing investments are really helpful to the people they’re supposed to be helping.”
Expect to see these regional partner marketing councils expanding around the world as Schneider’s new team builds its presence.