As Virtual Marketing Managers, we’ve seen and heard some horror stories of IT solution providers not being equipped to face their manufacturer resources. In truth, partner marketing is like a battlefield. Vendors arm you with a multitude of programs, platforms, funding, and content to aid in accomplishing your mission: to educate your prospective clients and convert your leads into closed deals.
If you’re an IT solution provider, this analogy may prompt a couple of thoughts…
- If these vendors are offering all of the same resources to your competitors, how are you going to differentiate your brand?
- How can you use the vendor’s strict and structured resources to promote your company’s unique value proposition?
- How can you manage all the tools and resources vendors provide to you?
Stacking up against the competition
If one of the resources you choose to leverage through the support of your marketing program is content, you may find that there are a lot of assets readily available. Depending on the vendor, that amount can be somewhat overwhelming.
To help you identify which campaigns or content are right for you, consider your marketing plan, audience, and the message that will most resonate with them.
For example, if you are hosting an event, think about why your attendees have shown up in the first place. What are their goals and purpose? Remember, quality over quantity!
If you are unsure of what resources are available to you, ask your channel contacts if you are a part of their marketing program. Your point of contact can usually give you some insight into what your competition is doing for marketing, and how you should leverage content available to you.
Using vendor resources to promote your company’s unique value proposition
A common problem we see with manufacturer content is that the messaging focuses on the manufacturer. You have the option to slap your logo on it, but that doesn’t make it compelling. Manufacturers have invested heavily in content that scales for all of their partners. However, content is not as effective in a one-size-fits-all approach.
In a survey we conducted, one partner responded that “manufacturers know very little of who we are, what we do, or what our value is”. In that same survey, 50% of partners said that customized content is what kept them from using manufacturer platforms more often. This is where creating custom content is important. You want content to lead with your brand and feature the manufacturer solution – not the other way around.
The more you can differentiate yourself from your competition, the better your value-add will resonate with your prospects. If you don’t have the tools and resources to create your own customized content, consider partnering with an agency that specializes in the IT industry.
Find out more about our agency, IMS360 Group.
Managing available resources, without losing your marbles
While it’s great that vendors are providing so many marketing resources (such as funding, content, platforms, and even a marketing manager) to assist you, it’s easy to feel like you’re drowning while trying to keep up.
For example, vendor-provided platforms can be a great tool to expand your reach with marketing. However, they can be difficult to manage and navigate if you aren’t familiar with that particular platform. Additionally, you might not know how to leverage the tools and content in that platform, or even which to use. There will also be multiple platforms offered to you from various vendors, making the management of these programs a drain on your bandwidth.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the time to go through each platform and the vast amount of content offered, to choose which assets fit with their organization’s marketing strategy. A common problem we see is that IT solution providers seldom have a dedicated person to manage these programs and develop a plan for their implementation.
That’s why it’s really important to prioritize the tools and resources that align with your overall business goals. Maybe there are specific solutions that will drive growth this quarter. Or, maybe you have a specific certification that helps you stand out. For example, are you looking for vertical-specific content because you specialize in the hospitality industry?
And what about the money?
We are seeing a similar issue with funding. With everchanging guidelines outlining how funds can be spent, and no clear direction of how to earn funding, it becomes a task that is overwhelming and not easily managed. With some helpful tips and tricks, however, you too will be able to understand how to access funds and spend them more effectively.
First and foremost, familiarize yourself with the different funding buckets available to your organization. Identify exactly how much you funding you have, and then outline a plan to spend these dollars. You should also familiarize yourself with deadlines that are associated with these funds, so that you can ensure they don’t expire and be aware of when you will need to submit proof of performance (PoP) to receive reimbursement.
Be sure to review guidelines before you spend these dollars. Set yourself up for a smooth reimbursement process, rather than spending the money and getting your claim denied because the activity did not meet the requirements set by the vendor. It’s really important that you have a dedicated person to monitor your dollars. With too many hands on deck, you might run into complications and miss out on available funds.
Where to turn if you feel you’ve exhausted all of your options…
There is a solution to all of these problems, especially if you aren’t looking to hire a full-time marketing person.
Consider a marketing agency that specializes in the IT industry. A Fluent Vision, for example, works directly with solution providers to develop and execute their marketing strategy. We take advantage of vendor-provided resources, but lead with your brand, to build a stable pipeline of qualified leads and help you increase revenue.
Find out more about our Marketing-as-a-Service offering, or reach out directly below: