Mention open source, and the conversation will sooner or later turn to Red Hat. It is the market leader in enterprise open source software, and also sees itself as a catalyst for change in the technology industry. In 2006, the then CEO, Matthew Szulik, set out Red Hat’s vision to be the defining technology company of the 21st century, and strengthen the social fabric by continually democratising content and technology.
We caught up with Uday Tekumalla, Senior Director, Marketing for the Asia Pacific region, and Iris Lee, Partners and Alliance Marketing Director for the region, to talk about Red Hat’s approach to partnership marketing.
Uday, Iris, can you start by telling us how Red Hat organises partner marketing?
In the Asia Pacific region, Red Hat has a strong presence across five major territories that include: India, ASEAN and Korea which we club as the Growth and Emerging Markets (GEMs), Japan; Greater China, which includes China, Hong Kong and Taiwan; and Australia and New Zealand. We work across the whole region,, through and with partners. Red Hat’s ecosystem comprises a broad spectrum of partners in the market, classified into several types, including global and regional systems integrators, cloud providers, independent software vendors and managed services providers, as well as traditional two-tier resellers and distributors. Partner marketing sits within the marketing function and we have team members spread across the region who lead and support the in-country activities.
What types of joint activities do you support with partners?
Partners play a key role in Red Hat’s go-to-market strategy and the company’s overall success. The opportunities to generate leads vary by partner type, but we support a range of joint activities. Before COVID-19, partner marketing in the region was very focused on physical events, but this has shifted rapidly to digital marketing and virtual events. These events range from large scale with audiences up to 1,000-2000 attendees such as the recent 2020 Red Hat APAC regional partner conference to much smaller events, where we work with a partner to target a specific account across all client contacts.
We also sponsor activities with key partners. Many of our partners don’t have a digital marketing capability so we have been working with them to enable them to deliver digital campaigns. We provide digital marketing support and services for traditional demand generation campaigns including lead qualification and distribution of opportunities to partners. We also generate leads for partners through digital campaigns with specific target segments to support and accelerate market penetration.
How do you fund activities with partners?
We use MDF with partners, which is a combination of co-fund by partner and investment by Red Hat, based on business plans and objectives, etc. To make the best use of the funds, it is very critical for partners to build marketing programs and activities that extend throughout the year and are not limited to a short period. We allocate funds on a quarterly and annual basis. However, the important piece here is to make sure that the partner is generating tangible results from the activities and meeting our mutual objectives.
How do you measure demand generation activities with partners?
We believe it is imperative to strike a balance when you are measuring an activity and so there isn’t just one perfect formula when it comes to measurement. However, as is the nature of open source to ‘iterate, review and reiterate’ we are currently testing new methods of lead tracking. We’re particularly focused on tracking and measurement of outcomes, and improving our ability to attribute leads to marketing. We also need to embed measurement best practices within our partners. However, we’re in market development mode right now to further develop the APAC partner ecosystem, so we tend to use a blend of qualitative and quantitative metrics.
How do you qualify and manage leads in joint demand generation activities with partners?
In any joint demand generation activity, it is very important that there is an alignment to each other’s business goals. We have large strategic partners, who have mature marketing-savvy in-house capabilities. On the other hand, several of our channel partners do not have an in-house marketing function, so we aim to support and help them to improve their marketing program. We offer a ‘centralized agency’ function where leads are generated by marketing, qualified by market development representatives, and then allocated to partners for follow-up at the local level.
How do you select partners to engage in strategic high- visibility lead generation?
We explore a number of ways to work with our in-country partners to make sure the business needs and demands are met. Our partner selection for demand generation activities is often driven by the region’s business goals and the strength of the partnerships in that region. We also work with some strategic partners for wholesale campaign activities and prepare joint marketing plans with our major partners.
How do you produce case studies and thought leadership materials for co-marketing with partners?
We use case studies and partner success stories to promote marketing best practice and mutual success. We are always on the lookout for stories that we can develop into content, including press releases, case studies, videos or white papers. This includes working closely with our partner account managers and partners to identify strong use cases that we can share. We also try to provide thought leadership content as part of the partner marketing and sales enablement activities. It is in our culture to be open; we love being able to provide a platform for open communication. There are extensive insights our partners can share around market outlook, opportunities and experiences working with us, so we also started a series of Partner Executive videos in August and will be releasing them throughout the course of 2021.
How do you provide marketing and sales enablement deliverables to partners?
It is very critical that our partners across the board are well equipped with the latest and greatest information of Red Hat’s open source solutions. And so we develop a large range of sales enablement deliverables for partners. We also create Go-To-Market Kits and Campaigns-in-a-Box assets for our partners. These include all assets from value propositions through to tactics (including suggested event agendas, presentation content, and digital assets). We invest a lot of time in briefing partners on how to use assets and deliverables, to help them improve their chances of success. All kits are supported by virtual briefings and workshops with partners, and deliverables are made available through the global partner portal.