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Coterie secures Innovate UK grant

Coterie has received a £194,000 grant from Innovate UK and has used the funds to launch the Coterie Community – a dedicated vendor-agnostic forum for partner and channel marketers that is run for (and by) its members

The Coterie Community will bring together partner marketers from vendors, ISVs, resellers, systems integrators and service providers, to share exclusive research, training, tools, templates and create safe, friendly discussion forums.

Thanks to the Innovate UK funding, the channel and partner specialist will work in conjunction with the University of Huddersfield providing business development to design and develop the framework for the community, as well as developing research and training for the industry.

The grant from Innovate UK, which involved Coterie undergoing a rigorous multi-stage process and submitting a detailed two-year project plan, is part of a management Knowledge Transfer Partnership (mKTP) with The University of Huddersfield. With the funding, Coterie has invested in a dedicated Business Development Manager, Dorin Cernat, as well as dedicated academic input from Professor Shona Bettany, from Huddersfield Business School, supported by experts in organisational change (Dr Nicola Stenberg) and project management (Dr Jim Bamford).

Uplift partner marketing

Research conducted last year by Coterie and the University of Huddersfield, identified a lack of support for specialist partner marketers and B2B marketers and limited marketing innovation.

The research findings, published in a report – Ecosystem 2.0 – highlighted several critical ways that vendors and partners should uplift their partner marketing to ensure the most successful and profitable outcome over the next three years.

A key takeaway was the market’s change of heart when it came to tiering partners, the long-established hierarchical system based on volume or revenue. The practice of tiering partners based on revenue into ‘gold,’ ‘silver’ and ‘bronze’ layers has long been standard channel practice. Yet, respondents stated that the idea of partners ranked by volume of sales says nothing to their expertise or ability to implement and understand a customer’s technology and business challenges. In its stead, partners want segmentation based on marketing skills mapping, and a continuous mapping process to move and adjust as end-user and partner needs change.

Channel challenges

The report also cited artificial intelligence, the prevalence of cloud computing
and mass disruption – culturally and economically – as some of the pressing challenges facing channel organisations.

Moreover, home working because of the pandemic, further accelerated the consumerisation of IT. End-users are in the driving seat – they know what they like and are influencing IT managers, who in turn are pushing partners and ecosystems to deliver what they want, when and how they want it. This, according to the report’s authors is leading to much more flexible and malleable ecosystems that must be marketed to accordingly.

As such, the report’s authors argued that selling must change to provide more value and that ecosystem marketing should be focused on a more proactive approach based on primary research, an approach that flips a traditional sales model to focus on challenges that customers will experience in the future and marketing to solve those new challenges instead.

Training and research

“We wanted to do something proactive about the lack of knowledge in B2B marketing and partner marketing and provide training and research to raise its profile and support this community,” said Helen Curtis, Founding Director at Coterie.

“The Coterie Community will be a single place where partner marketers
– from any organisation – can come together to develop new skills, network with peers, and learn. This isn’t about just another general B2B marketing community, this is about developing innovative ideas, underpinned by sound academic research that helps to take partner marketing to the next level and finally get it noticed.”

Academic support

“Having academic support throughout the community to help guide skills training and provide exclusive research will give the community some real purpose,” explained Professor Shona Bettany, the author of the Ecosystem 2.0 research report.

“This community will be an invaluable space where global B2B marketers can come together for credible, research- informed support and feel confident that the industry and marketing knowledge they are receiving is academically rigorous as well as practical and useful.”

The community also aims to drive new thinking and help partner marketers with everything from how to devise the right strategy to drive leads, to business planning and developing marketing skills for new areas of the discipline.

Laura Forester-Green, KTP Manager at the University concluded: “We look forward to expanding our relationship with Coterie into an area where we believe we can drive real innovation and change to help partner marketers thrive in this generation and the next.”