Open training beats advertising - test-driving Acumatica's partner marketing university

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed July 31, 2015
Summary:
Acumatica is the latest example of a company to use open training to fuel adoption, via Acumatica Open University. Here's my review of their partner marketing university and why training beats advertising.

Since I attended the Acumatica analyst summit in Boston, I've been test-driving some of the materials in their partner marketing university. The content in this training program is part of a broader push Acumatica started in 2013 with the launch of its Acumatica Open University.

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I've been pounding the drum of free/open enterprise software education for a while. Training works far better as a marketing expense than as a profit center. We're not in the training business; we're in the product adoption and ecosystem building business. Yet many vendors persist in treating training and education as a profit center, creating unnecessary friction and putting a drag on adoption.

But we see change as well, SAP's enormously successful OpenSAP courses have disrupted their own internal Education division. MongoDB University has been a huge asset for accelerating MongoDB's adoption. Once marketing teams see the volume of signups they can get from quality training content, it's not a hard sell to take on the expense. The resistance will come from the old guard circling the drain of their training revenues.

The power of informal training content

Acumatica's Richard Duffy, VP of Partner Strategy and Enablement, understands the power of informal content. A one-man video creation machine, Duffy pretty much singlehandedly kept SAP Business One on the PR map, and since joining Acumatica in April 2014, Duffy has been bolstering Acumatica's partner enablement using his open content principles.

Duffy has acknowledged that Acumatica can improve how its training resources as accessed. The Acumatica Open University has one location, the partner marketing university has a different one (and, perhaps, a different log-in from the university sign up, I'll confirm that detail). Acumatica also has a well-stocked YouTube channel, which contains a slew of videos that aren't in the Open University video section.

I intend to talk to Duffy more about Acumatica's long term vision for these various educational portals. But in the meantime, a review of the partner marketing university reveals some excellent resources for the enterprisey marketer. Duffy himself has taped a series of Acumatica marketing university videos - here's a YouTube playlist with a few of them.

As someone who enjoys taking a comprehensive course rather than a few webinars, I was even more interested with Acumatica's partner marketing university course.  There is a log-in required to view the whole course, but what Duffy has done here is to supplement his own teachings with an embedded version of the Duct Tape Marketing course, an eleven module marketing training course by John Jantsch.

I like this concept of embedded training; there's no need to produce all training content yourself when you can build off of existing materials. Duct Tape Marketing is NOT a free course, so if you want to see the entirety, you can join their web site. Acumatica's partner marketing system previews some of the content, and, long story short, I dove in and completed the whole course.

Test-driving Acumatica's partner marketing university

Previous to this, I had already completed (and reviewed) the Hubspot inbound marketing and training, and also the Copyblogger New Rainmaker course (both of these are free with signup). These courses work well together; aspiring digital marketers should check out all three.

Hubspot's inbound marketing is more narrowly focused on inbound fundamentals. Copyblogger's New Rainmaker, despite its gimmicky title, is the best and most advanced of the three for creating a winning approach to opt-in content. But where the Duct Tape Marketing course pays off is in its overall approach to business strategy. Marketing activities are placed in a framework of planning/executing for lead generation and positive outcomes (e.g. getting paid).

I may review the Duct Tape Marketing course in more detail someday, but for now, I can see why Duffy chose this content as part of Acumatica's partner enablement. My experience is most service providers, whether they are on-premise or cloud specialists, struggle mightily with the new rules of digital marketing.

They labor to punch above their weight and win deals against providers with a known brand and track record. The principles in Duct Tape Marketing help in that "punch above your weight" ambition, by defining and amplifying your market specializations.

One of the strengths of the Duct Tape Marketing course are the many links and resources that are shared with each chapter.

Here's a few tools I found useful:

  • Auphonic - one of the best podcast solutions I have ever used, which automates sound optimization, music file insertion, posting on YouTube and SoundCloud, etc. Many payment plans, including pay as you go.
  • Ubersuggest - a keyword research tool that can help generate topic ideas and topic trees related to your competencies.
  • Dashboard Junkie - generate free Google Analytics dashboards you can import into your analytics account.
  • Buzzsumo - useful keyword, influencer, and content analysis tool.

Final thoughts

Some of the Duct Tape Marketing content is not appropriate to enterprise audiences, for example, tutorials on breaking into localized search. But overall, combined with Duffy's own video content, Acumatica has come up with a systematic way for partners with a self-service mentality to upskill where they might need it most.

If service firms want to move beyond shopworn "we've got the best people" brochure marketing, this is the direction ahead. If you know of an enterprise firm doing this type of training/content effectively, it would be great to see more examples.

Image credit: training concept © cacaroot - Fotolia.com

Disclosure: Acumatica is a diginomica partner as of this writing. I took the marketing course on my own time.