Fifteen years ago, in Sydney, Australia, I observed that beers, rugby, golf, and print ads (pretty much in that order) were the typical IT product marketing manager’s list of things to do.
Yes, some great relationship-building went on. We’re talking about beer here, after all. But were deals done and revenue raised? Were they all attributable to those activities? Possibly, but how could we measure it? Which activities did, or did not, generate leads and convert those leads into revenue?
Suspecting some significant wastage of marketing funds, I founded Elastic Digital. The quest began: Create measurable ROI for the B2B IT channel, globally. With the aim of generating leads efficiently, giving marketers visibility into their marketing ROI, and helping partners convert those leads into revenue, the foundations of a successful digital marketing agency were laid.
Over more than a decade, Elastic Digital, the agency evolved into Elastic Grid, the demand generation platform.
By 2014, the company had expanded its marketing support operations into the US and Europe. The team had grown to over 50 staff. With faster speed to market for digital campaigns and enhanced platform functionality in hot demand, we knew we would have to respond.
Guided by our development team, we relinquished an extreme waterfall approach to our processes and replaced them with an agile approach which focuses on validated learning and user experience feedback. In short, there is no longer a “version” of the platform, or “go-live” dates. We now iterate and release updates for ALL users every 3 weeks.
The outcome is ongoing platform improvement based on user needs.
Maintaining profitability since inception and having no debt made it possible for us to allocate more and more resources to the platform over the past 18 months. We introduced user experience, business analysis, and quality assurance to ensure usability, priority, and stability as we scoped out increasingly complex features to meet the needs of users. The global team now numbers more than 60 staff.
The key to success was to focus on the common element in the chain—the partners. They’re the actual users of the platform. They run the campaigns on the platform, and our global marketing support team (Elastic Grid Marketing Specialists) help them optimize their campaign performance. Making life easier for partners helps them, and our clients (the vendors) get the marketing results they’re after.
This renewed focus on partners changed everything.
We pivoted. Happily, it’s working.
“Now in its third year, partner adoption rates continue to grow at a significant rate—doubling in the past year. The number of partner appointments resulting from Grid leads is growing at an even faster rate, around 230% year on year.”
- Kristina Onyon, Sr Manager, Partner Demand Generation at NetApp
While the platform team expanded, we simplified our campaign creative process by creating ready-to-go customizable templates (known as Grid Blueprints). These let our Creative Services team get complex lead nurture campaigns onto the platform quickly. Despite initial fears about how clients would respond to this move away from bespoke campaign creation, this fast-to-market option has proven so popular that Grid Blueprints now account for most campaign development.
We also redefined our offering—critical to re-positioning ourselves. At our core, we exist to help vendors reach customers via the vendors’ partners. Channel marketing, pure and simple.
“This campaign has been amazing! I was completely unprepared for the amount of leads that it would generate but I was able to set about 12 phone appointments and 5 in office appointments. The fact that these campaigns are opening doors for me is wonderful.”
We remain in constant conversation with partners through our global team of Grid Marketing Specialists. They can action and escalate feedback to resolve pain-points effectively.
Conversations with vendors are now less about perceived “wants” and more about their partners’ documented needs.
Agile is now a philosophy we apply to the entire business. Our Creative Services team works on campaigns with a process that involves collaboration between copywriters, designers, developers, and producers along with clients. Though more streamlined than bespoke work, we are turning out more interesting and successful campaigns than ever before (see the results first hand for yourself). And we still have occasion to work on bespoke projects like animations—when our schedule allows.
Our platform Product Team is a more traditional Scrum team focused on delivering iterations of features, bug fixes, and improvements every 3 weeks. We have user experience, quality assurance, front and back end developers, development operations, and a business analyst who all work together to solve problems and deliver each iteration.
The two teams don’t keep to themselves either. We now have a heavy focus on “Engagement”, encouraging people to really understand what the task they are doing is all about and how it fits into the greater business context.
We are far from perfect. But, we have a much better understanding of what partners need—which is of great value to vendors (our clients). This is driving a host of new platform features and enhancements.
The process is ongoing, but there’s less fear and trepidation than when we set out to pivot the company to help clients meet the opportunities presented by their partners.
“The Elastic Grid team is results-oriented. The quality of their work is high, and their creative is unique. They make a real effort to understand our needs and our partners’ needs and actively invest that understanding in platform development. It makes for a rewarding working relationship for all involved.”
- Kristina Onyon, Sr Manager, Partner Demand Generation at NetApp
The past year has given us a chance to take expertise gained over the past 15 years to redouble our efforts on platform development to get what is, or soon will be, the best through-partner/channel marketing automation tool into the hands of literally thousands of partners around the world. (Some may be yours.)
The user base is growing rapidly as more and more vendors/suppliers adopt Elastic Grid to leverage their partners’ familiarity with the platform.
Elastic Grid gets results. But, we have more work to do.
Happily, with Elastic Grid, marketing ROI is now a lot clearer for our clients.
(The beer still tastes great, but now it’s more in celebration of results, rather than anticipation.)
We’ve passed the 1,000 campaigns milestone. (This does not include localizations in up to 20 languages for many campaigns.) The team is growing. The platform is evolving, as is Elastic Grid, the company. We continue to listen. It helps us focus on making marketing simpler for partners and making our clients’ sales channels more powerful.
Onwards and upwards!
Stay tuned for our next post.
(I’d like to acknowledge our Senior UX Designer |Design Team Lead, Lorenzo Princi,
for allowing me to adapt some of the above from his article:
March 15 Updates If you’re not already using the Elastic Grid partner demand generation center, then the best way to experience the platform is to request a demo. See how easy it is for partners, making it powerful for channels. The results
“Very useful platform to discover sales opportunities.” F5 Networks Grid Campaign Partnering with F5 Networks gives Silitone Solution access to demand generation campaigns on the F5 Grid. The Grid helps them generate leads and win new customers. Campaigns
I was recently listening to music on Spotify when an ad started playing that featured a right brain vs. left brain theme. The ad used my headphones as an object lesson, placing the “right” and “left” brain characters in their respective speakers.
“We have been able to discovered more opportunities after we provided the 30 days campaign feedback.” F5 Networks Grid Campaign Partnering with F5 Networks gives Hastwell IT access to demand generation campaigns on the F5 Grid. The Grid
Enterprise Vault The Italian language version is now available for the Symantec Enterprise Vault campaign on the Symantec Grid (EMEA partners only). NBU Calculator The NBU Calculator campaign is now live for NAM partner registration on the Symantec Grid. The Swedish, Norwegian
“The Grid has been helping us to build thought leadership of F5 solutions and discover sales opportunities.” F5 Grid Campaign Partnering with F5 Networks gives 22by7 Solutions access to demand generation campaigns on the F5 Grid. The
“We are very satisfied with the results we received from this campaign. The overall experience has been very beneficial for us. We would like to see more campaigns for more products.” Symantec Grid Campaign Partnering with Symantec gives Atua
“We are very excited about the platform, it’s very useful for us. Regarding the successes we had, we will launch other campaigns by the end of March.” Symantec Grid Campaign Partnering with Symantec gives Pragma Progetti access to demand
When partners of our vendor clients talk, we listen. Our Elastic Grid Marketing Specialist (GMS) Team are in constant conversation with channel partners. And when it comes to what partners want in a demand generation campaign, they’ve identified a few trends. So