Marketing for IT Services and Value-Added Resellers (VARs) is different than marketing for any other business. VARs must balance relationships with their OEM partners (which usually sell competing solutions and products), win new customers and keep existing customers happy, stay on top of the latest technology so that they aren’t left behind or made irrelevant, and win new customers while keeping existing customers happy.
Most of the time services and product orders for clients are emergency-based, financially motivated, and rarely planned out in advance. This reality leaves even less time for marketing and pitching new customers. Chances are you don’t have a full staff of marketing experts who can fill the gaps that the OEMs have left, and hopefully Sales isn’t in charge of Marketing (we’re just kidding Sales, without you all closing deals there would be no marketing to be done).
The OEM partners are supposed to have partner marketing programs designed to help VARs secure new customers and stay on top of marketing and technology trends, and a few have good programs that are helpful and deliver almost what is promised in terms of marketing and new leads.
Most OEM partners’ channel programs are the red-headed stepchildren of the marketing organization; the brand gets the budgets and the resources, while the channel marketing team gets whatever is created then then try to make that marketing “partner friendly”. And unfortunately, that means leaving a space for the VARs logo in the top left corner on whatever was created.
We know this at Lift Digital because we were there, on several Fortune 100 company’s Channel Partner Marketing Demand Generation teams. So, we feel your pain big time. Which is also why we’re the best marketing partner you can have because we know how to play and win the game.
IT Services/VAR Marketing Tip #1: Take and Use all Available MDF Funds!
It’s not free money because you’ve earned it, but it’s pretty much like house money. Let the OEMs pay for your marketing. Take that money and turn it into qualified leads which you can turn into customers and revenue.
Almost half of OEM’s partner development funds (of MDF) goes unused, and they’re sort of counting on that. If you use your allotment up, ask for more. They have it because other VARS aren’t using their MDF funds, and everyone has to use those funds by the end of the quarter or they expire. TAKE ADVANTAGE!
Also, many business units have their own marketing budgets which go unused. I know it’s crazy, but they do. They’ll give up some of their marketing funds (CAPEX) to pair with or match your MDF and amplify your budget. When you bring in new business, they get credit, and everyone has some sort of revenue goal to hit by the end of the quarter.
IT Services/VAR Marketing Tip #2: Be Where People are Looking for Help
People use search engines for everything. Google alone processes over 40,000 search queries per second globally. That’s a lot of people looking for a lot of answers (and help). When someone’s server or phone system or whatever breaks down, they’re looking for help in a panic. If your company is there when they’re looking for whatever they need, you’re going to get a new customer quickly.
If they’re actually looking for information and planning out a migration and looking for a technology partner, chances are they want to work with someone locally that they can talk to in person and trust.
Having seen the data and analytics on the big OEM’s partner directory pages, people aren’t looking there. They aren’t going to trade shows, they aren’t using the Yellow Pages, and they aren’t going to the Chamber of Commerce… They’re looking on search engines for local businesses.
IT Services/VAR Marketing Tip #3: Don’t Sell Products, Sell Solutions to Problems
You’re not selling your OEM’s products for profit, you’re selling your services for profit. Most VAR’s are selling $1.50-$2.00 in services for every $1 in OEM product/solution, and we all know the profit margins are much higher on services.
So, since the products don’t make much profit, and plenty of people sell them, the only way to differentiate yourself as a Value-Added Reseller is to solve customer’s problems.
At the end of the day there are only two motivations for every business to buy something:
- to make more money
- to take away some sort of pain (reduce costs, reduce risk, stay in compliance, etc.).
So, help them make more money. Help them stay compliant. Help them reduce costs. Help them reduce risks. Help the people making the decisions to do business with you look good and keep their jobs. That’s all potential customers are wanting… for you to solve all of their problems.
This is where we come in.
We’ll utilize those MDF funds and turn it into qualified leads looking for your services and expertise. We have programs that can send those leads directly to your sales team in real-time or telequalify those leads into MQLs and SQL so that you’re only contacting those ready to do business.
We can and do work with the OEMs we haven’t been too kind to in this article to partner up and make sure we’ve got the best messaging possibly, staying within marketing and branding guidelines, and not competing against each other and driving each our costs.
We’ll use search engine marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, account-based marketing, and data and analytics to ensure we’re capturing the demand in the market while delivering a high ROI on your marketing investment.
Please contact us so that we can start turning the OEM’s MDF funds into your new customers.