Each year, our sister publication Computer Dealer News hosts the Channel Elite Awards to recognize IT Solution Provider for their innovation, leadership, and commitment for creating value for their customers. As Canada’s leading IT channel publication, CDN invited solution providers to submit their best work to nine different categories for 2013’s awards. Here, we present the case studies these award nominees put forward to us. Find out who the big winners are on Sept. 11 when CDN presents them at the CEA Awards Gala.

Learn more about CDN’s Channel Elite Awards 2013

Nominee: Navantis from Toronto, ON

Describe the initiative

At Navantis all marketing tactics need to answer one question – how many marketing leads will this activity drive into the sales pipeline? We are disciplined in our approach to a consistent marketing format which includes • Exposure (email, social, website, speaking engagements) • Influence (awards, press, seminars, Linked-in and Twitter followers) • Engagement (event attendees, retweets, website visits, newsletter clicks) • Action/Convert (lead generation, pitches/proposals) One of our best tools in accelerating the sales cycle is face time with prospects at seminars where Navantis can expose attendees to fresh thinking and new concepts around business innovation. Navantis wanted to get front and center with clients and prospects to get them engaged in business transformation conversations based on the re-imagined enterprise. Cloud, social, mobility, touch and big data are providing opportunities for businesses to leap ahead by innovating with new offerings or services that enable competitive differentiation. Engaging clients to think about the possibilities at seminars allow clients to focus on new ideas away from the office in a relaxed atmosphere (such as a breakfast meeting); however, there seemed to be “event fatigue” with every vendor and system integrator promoting events and clients often being disappointed that the content wasn’t any deeper than the marketing spin emailed in a brochure. We wanted to set ourselves apart and promise on delivering content that was impactful, insightful, controversial and enlightening. We took a step back and developed a plan around a re-branded initiative “The Navantis Expert Series”. Our concept with this series is that we would go deep with highly qualified specialists. Our series would include sessions that exposed emerging technologies such as BYOD and Cloud as well as explore trends in vertical markets such as energy, oil and gas, legal and financial services. Supported by multi-pronged touch using our newsletters, blogs, twitter feeds, linked-in, facebook likes and web-site, we also partnered with our primary vendor, Microsoft, to ensure campaign success. The Navantis Expert Series has its own email address and has gained an enviable reputation as a no-nonsense, no-holds barred look at what is really shaping IT. “About the Navantis EXPERT Series The Navantis Expert Series is designed to address the most current problems facing IT and business today by connecting experts and professionals in an interactive format. Guided by subject matter professionals, real-world examples and best practices will be used to address common problems and strategies. Participants can expect to have an opportunity to explore the subject-matter as it relates to their own IT and business challenges.”

What makes this initiative innovative or original?

There is nothing new about running seminars; however, with Microsoft launching so many new products in the past year, the push to move from on-premise to cloud solutions and the pervasive nature of smartphone and mobility solutions, every partner and vendor was jumping on the event bandwagon. Attendance at events was down and we believed our clients and prospects were suffering from event fatigue. When we surveyed our clients to understand why attendance at events had dropped the response was consistent. The content did not address the business issues the clients were facing and often provided no new insight. In short – a complete waste of time. Navantis got to work with a fresh new branded look that we announced in our newsletter and on our web site as well as through twitter and linked-in. We polled our customers to understand what content was most relevant and started with our first event in the series last fall. Our first event was around BYOD. Our headline advertised “Bring Your Own Device or Bring Your Own Disaster” jumping to the heart of what was on the mind of every CIO. Our agenda promised the “real deal” by getting very specific in the content items covered including: • How to manage and protect your data regardless of device or access location • Specific BYOD security challenges in today’s highly mobile environment • Primary considerations to address your BYOD challenges • Critical capabilities to secure smart phones and tablets • Best practices from others – learn from the real world • Tools available to help you with your BYOD strategy We emailed invitations to our prospects and clients and within minutes registration in Calgary had reached 80 and in Toronto we were over 140. Our agenda featured top mobility, infrastructure and security experts from both Navantis and Microsoft. The results generated multiple meetings with prospects culminating in several deals for both our eastern and our western offices. We followed up the BYOD series with deep dives into “Stakeholder Management for Oil and Gas”, “Find Your Silver Lining in the Cloud”, “Sneak Peek of SharePoint 2013” “Digital Strategies for Canadian Law Firms”, “Work is Something You Do, Not a Place You Go – Collaboration Solutions for Business”. While our colleagues at other organizations were having difficulty filling seats, all of our events had record attendance numbers. The following video link features an interview with Navantis SME Andy Papadopoulos and IT business following the BYOD seminar:

Describe how this initiative was a benefit to the solutions provider and provide metrics to demonstrate it.

We featured 12 events in the past year (average 2 per city) and each event was at capacity driving an average of 15 to 20 leads per session. These marketing activities have driven a 40% increase in our funnel and dramatically increased our business. In our Lync seminars alone we ran 3 joint seminars with Microsoft which drove a pipeline of over $2 million, developed a Lync webinar which we featured in blogs, through social and through our newsletter. We executed on 3 PoCs, all of which are now moving to roll-out.

How did the solution provider strengthen its relationship with the vendor?

Selected by Microsoft as the Country Partner of the Year for 2011 and 2012 and winner of more than 40 Microsoft awards, Navantis is proud of our long history supporting Microsoft solutions that deliver value to our mutual customer base. Here is what a few people at Microsoft will tell you about us: “We have a lot of SharePoint partners at Microsoft – there is one that stands out – Navantis. I highly recommend!” Jon C. Arnold, Managing Director, Worldwide Power & Utilities Industry Microsoft Corporation “Navantis invests in Microsoft. They sponsor monthly in-person and online events that showcase our technology across specific verticals featuring Microsoft and Navantis presenting jointly. They have evangelized Office 365, Azure, Private Cloud, System Center, Hyper-V, Lync, Windows 8 and Mobile and regularly draw large attendance numbers. They are committed to the VTS program and embed into our teams to help drive adoption of our technology. They are committed to joint account planning and keep their PSX up-to-date so that we can pro-actively go after deals together.” Airlee Gigun, Senior Partner Account Manager “At Microsoft we value partners like Navantis who invest in the latest Microsoft technology, use it internally, drive industry thought-leadership across multiple verticals and support our entire stack across 11 practice areas.” Sara Gillians, MS PAM “Navantis has been a critical partner in enabling our Lync go-to-market strategy. Early adopters themselves, they are a showcase example of the productivity benefits of our platform. And they’ve also invested heavily in marketing our solution across their wide customer base. They’ve helped us showcase Lync at Subaru in a video and written case study, they blog about us, they feature us in their monthly newsletter “the Navigator”, they drive attendance to our events and they have executed several events themselves. With several deployments under their belts, a number of on-going PoC’s and continued investment in Lync CIE’s, they are a model partner for our product team. We love working with them.” Jacky Magee, Senior Product Manager, Microsoft “In a highly competitive situation at BC Hydro, Navantis demonstrated their ability to understand the business and present the right solution to the business decision makers. After 15 minutes of the solution presentation, the business people told the evaluation committee “we want that solution“. After that request – Navantis eliminated all competition and it was very easy for BC Hydro to award the contract to Navantis. Very few partners in the Microsoft ecosystem are able to bring both domain expertise and solution ability to the table in such a consistent manner as Navantis. When Navantis engages in the opportunity – they invest to win. BC Hydro is extremely pleased with the solution Navantis has delivered and impressed with the caliber of people that are delivering that solution. Navantis sets a very high bar in the partner community” Richard Katrusiak, CRM Solution Specialist, Dynamics CRM. “As the lead for Azure in Canada, I rely on partners to get our cloud message, invest in readiness and deliver it to our mutual customers. And I can definitely rely on a partner like Navantis who gets both the business vision and the technology advantages. Navantis has clearly articulated to me the importance of Azure to his business. Their Chief Architect and his team have a proven ability to execute. One of the first adopters in Canada, part of the Azure Circle and with customers in production, it is partners like Navantis who will help us win market share in this highly competitive and fragmented space.” Peter van der Zouwe, National Partner Lead, Windows Azure.

What social media tools did you use for the initiative and how did this enhance it?

We used all of the following vehicles to drive awareness and encourage registration. By consistently delivering great content, our social vehicles are increasing in followers and traffic. Social is a critical part of are awareness strategy and we consistently drive messaging that matters to our followers. Twitter Followers in 2011 – 150 Followers today – 730 Linked-In Followers in 2011 – 700 Followers today – 3,700 FaceBook Likes in 2011 – 130 Likes today – 597 Navantis Navigator (newsletter) Monthly distribution Positions us as thought leaders Drives awareness of events 3,000 readers Social Media Blog 4,518 visitor in 6 months Average Duration 7.59 minutes Average pages visited 2.61 10% returning visits Susie Ibbotson, VP Marketing at Navantis was selected by IT Business as one of the top 12 people in IT in Canada to follow on Twitter.

In what ways did this initiative go above and beyond industry norms and expectations?

Customer seminars and events were becoming stale serving up the same “me too” marketing content and not leading with fresh ideas, controversial discussions or the thought leadership that clients expected. Attendance across the industry at these events has been dropping. Navantis took a hard line approach to delivering sessions with real depth. By re-branding and using multiple forms of social media and other content delivery mechanisms to drive awareness and interest, we bucked the trend by consistently attracting large numbers of attendees and driving leads into our sales funnel.

How does this solution further your customer’s green or environmentally friendly plans?

Our entire campaign vehicle is online and digital, eliminating paper-based marketing campaigns.

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