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Top Gun 51 Profile: Star2Star Chief Marketing Officer David Portnowitz

Top Gun 51 CP CF 2020 Main Colors

Star2Star’s business is 100% through the channel, so everything Star2Star chief marketing officer David Portnowitz and his team do is with the channel in mind.

As chief marketing officer, Portnowitz leads creative, digital and co-op marketing efforts at the company, as well as its training team. He has invested in tools, content and resources for partners to be better educated and enabled to drive demand.

David Portnowitz of Star2Star

Star2Star’s David Portnowitz

By putting an internal team and a channel-specific agency in place, he has shown partners that they have someone who is always there to help them.

Portnowitz joined Star2Star nearly seven years ago.

Portnowitz is is part of our Top Gun 51 for 2020. Introduced last year, the Top Gun 51 recognizes premier leaders in the indirect IT and telecom channel. There were three criteria considered in selecting this year’s group: advocacy for the channel; commitment to partners’ business success; and dedication to earning the channel’s trust. To come up with the list, we solicited input from those who know channel executives best. We’re talking about distributors, master agents and industry analysts.

In May, Star2Star introduced new products and services during the work-from-home trend spurred by COVID-19. Those include a set of packaged applications, Star2Star Service Insight analytics, a new and improved, full-service contact center offer, and new bundles.

In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Portnowitz talks about his history with the channel and what it takes to be an effective channel leader.

Channel Partners: How did you first become involved in the channel? Was it part of your overall career plan?

David Portnowitz: I came to Star2Star after spending many years working in sports marketing at IMG. I never planned to work in the channel, but I have really enjoyed it since I joined. Getting involved in the channel is something that I couldn’t have foreseen, but in the end I couldn’t have asked for a better career move.

David Portnowitz of Star2Star is part of Channel Partners/Channel Futures’ 2020 Top Gun 51. This program recognizes today’s channel executives who build and execute channel programs that drive partner, customer and supplier success. See the full list.

CP: What have you learned most from your experience with the channel and partners?

DP: Working in the channel and with partners has been incredibly fun and challenging. I thoroughly enjoy getting to work with partners and try to help their businesses grow. It’s never the same and it keeps the creative juices flowing.

CP: What are the components of a successful channel program? Are there things that used to work, but now don’t?

DP: I think the biggest thing is to focus on customer/partner service. At Star2Star we are 100% channel, so our partners are our lifeblood. Our focus is to help them sell and market their services wherever and whenever they want. We act as a full-service marketing agency for our partners, and without this approach I don’t think we would be as successful. I think one thing that may have worked in the past is to just create a partner portal and drop content there, and hope your partners use it. That approach doesn’t work. You have to engage with your partners and help them use and understand it. Without that, the content is useless.

CP: What do you consider your biggest accomplishments in working with the channel?

DP: I am most proud of the team of people I have at Star2Star. We work tirelessly and relentlessly to help our partners. We are passionate about what we do and we are always excited by a new challenge.

CP: What are your career goals going forward?

DP: I am focused on continuing to grow our marketing and training department here at Star2Star. I want to continue to push the envelope in what’s next in partner marketing and grow the Star2Star brand as well.

CP: What sort of advice would give someone who is just starting out in channel leadership?

DP: The biggest thing I would say is to listen to your partner’s needs before just assuming you know their challenges. Every partner is unique and their business is their livelihood. We are here to support them, and without understanding their objectives, you can’t truly affect their business outcomes.


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