Why techchannel.marketing is Different
Managed and other IT Service Providers need to market differently than resellers ever did if they want to grow and sustain their business.
They had it all wrong.
For the 43 years I’ve been in the IT channel, one thing I’ve heard over and over again, way too many times from way too many vendors, is that partners could not “do marketing.” Didn’t matter if they were “Solution Providers”, “VARs”, “Resellers”, “Systems Integrators”, or whatever else they called themselves. They did not know anything about marketing.
For much of that time, of course, I was running Marketing & Business Development for my company. I just stood there, smiled, and let them blither away. I knew they had it wrong.
They Were Wrong, but They Were Right
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that they were really right from their own perspective. But they were wrong from ours. Few partners knew how to effectively market the vendors’ products, but most were pretty good at marketing themselves and their own services. Some better than others.
The point most vendors really missed very badly was they never thought to practice a little marketing jiu jitsu and go with the momentum! Had they simply aligned their marketing of their products with the partners’ marketing of their services they would have enjoyed a real win!
That’s how we did it.
Our Vendor/Partner Marketing Secret
Remember that this is ten, twenty, thirty, and forty years ago. Almost all vendors had some kind of marketing development funds (MDF), co-operative marketing (Co-Op) or other funding programs. They would take a percentage of our sales and return it to us to support “approved” marketing activities. The problem was that the activities they wanted to fund were all about their products, and only about their products. In the end, we and all our competitors ended up circulating the same tired marketing materials to our customers. That may have been acceptable for resellers of computer products, but not for those of us who produced most of our profits from our own services.
We explained that we wanted to market our own services to those customers. We wanted to emphasize our competitive advantages, what made us unique and better. We wanted to give customers reasons to choose to obtain both their IT products and the required services from us instead of our competitors.
We expanded upon this to suggest to the vendors that we wanted to emphasize what we could do for customers by deploying their products with our services. Marketing both together made the message more meaningful, as the customer could see more than just the product. They could see the value they would enjoy by using that product. And they would see how they could get that value without lifting a finger, other than to sign the contract.
We turned co-operative marketing into truly co-operative marketing. By leveraging our services to put their products into action, we accelerated their sales curves. Vendors fell over themselves to give us more discretionary funds and we turned every penny into additional profits all around.
Marketing Professional Services for Managed Service Providers
Last year, one of the most popular posts in the Business Technologist’s Journal (BTJ) was titled “MPS for MSPs” in which we talked about marketing MSP services professionally and effectively. Clearly, there was great interest in this topic. This is why we decided to add this new section to BTJ this year.
In this section you will regularly receive insights and guidance on how to most effectively promote your practice to produce superior profits, create and maintain long-term client relationships, and build and broadcast your reputation for excellence.
We’ll talk about the most effective architecture for great marketing messages, including emails, case studies, white papers, blogs, and more. We’ll explore which strategies are most productive and why. We’ll examine various channels you can use to broaden the reach of your messaging.
Some activities we suggest could also benefit vendor and cloud partners you work with, which will encourage them to participate in funding them. Some require little if any funding. Others you may consider funding yourself. We’ll provide resources to help you compose, layout, distribute, and follow up all kinds of marketing activities. We’ll explore event marketing, social marketing, and other methodologies that will increase your profits and grow your business, much of which you can do yourself or with your existing team members.
Nothing Happens Until Somebody Sells Something to Somebody
This sage advice from Henry Ford points out the importance of all sales activities. What it doesn’t mention is that sales don’t happen until you have a customer to sell to, and you don’t get those without some form of marketing.
In fact, Sales is Marketing’s primary customer. The job of marketing is to attract and deliver qualified customers to the Sales team to present to, convince, and close.
If yours is a company that wants more sales, and therefore more customers to sell to, join us every week here at techchannel.marketing to learn more about how to fill your sales pipeline with opportunities!