Positioning a Technology Ecosystem
VMware invented virtualization technology, the software that has become the foundation for cloud computing and a major tool for helping companies save money while making their businesses more adaptable. Critical to VMware’s success has been a strong network of partners, with whom the company develops and markets its technology. More than 50,000 strong, from IBM and Cisco to resellers and consultants, partners in the network apply VMware technology to meet customer needs. While VMware had made serious efforts to recruit and involve partners, it had never demonstrated how its partner network provided competitive advantage to customers. Marshall was asked to help VMware develop a concise, compelling customer-facing story that would apply to a wide variety of partners, and appeal to diverse customers without being diluted.
Our research and analysis revealed three key insights. First, customer needs are highly diverse, and they rely on trusted advisors to help them find the right technologies. Customers consider themselves, not VMware, to be at the center of any technology ecosystem. Second, partners value their relationship with VMware, but want to contribute to creating customer value. Finally, customers believe in VMware’s technology leadership, innovation and ability to transform business through IT.
We crafted a story based on the attributes of collective commitment, market-leading technology, and continuous innovation, providing transformative results. We articulated this as a short, two-sentence positioning statement; a concise, four-word tagline; and an infographic that could be used to explain the network in a simple image. We also provided message maps and voice and tone guidelines for extended messaging guidance. This story and supporting tools helped unite and motivate partners to communicate as a network rather than as individuals, helping customers realize the value of shared commitment.
The story was enthusiastically received internally and among partners as a clear, meaningful way to engage customers. The messaging tools were rapidly adopted and utilized across VMware and marketing efforts.
Early results showed customers recognized the collective efforts of VMware and its partners, and studies measured the impact of the story on customer perceptions. Internally, the project was showcased as an example of effective consensus building across the organization.
Most recently, the VMware Partner Network was awarded with an elite 5-Star rating in CRN’s 2017 Partner Program Guide – recognizing a select subset of companies that offer solution providers the best partnering elements in their channel programs.