Marketing magic

With the Middle East market becoming ever more competitive, the marketing resources that vendors provide for their partners have taken on increasing importance. Good old-fashioned rebate schemes might give the channel financial incentives, but it’s the deployment of adequate marketing tools that is often the real differentiator between success and failure.

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By  Dawinderpal Sahota Published  April 12, 2007

With the Middle East market becoming ever more competitive, the marketing resources that vendors provide for their partners have taken on increasing importance. Good old-fashioned rebate schemes might give the channel financial incentives, but it’s the deployment of adequate marketing tools that is often the real differentiator between success and failure.

Posters, portals, banners, newsletters, artwork, training schemes, e-mail campaigns, media advertisements and even credit cards — vendors in the Middle East continue to shower their partners with marketing tools to enhance their go-to-market capabilities. But there are still several questions that remain unanswered. Are partners utilising these tools to maximum effect and are they singing from the same hymn-sheet as the vendor?

There is no doubt that channel partners are keen to take advantage of marketing tools, providing they find them compelling enough. After all, such brand affiliation gives them credibility. They want to use their vendors’ reputations to enhance their own and they want to be equipped with the tools to target their market more effectively.

Vendors understand that nobody knows the end-user as well as their channel partners and that resellers enjoy an unquantifiable level of communication with customers. Manufacturers we speak to insist they are impressed with the panache their partners have shown in their marketing activities.

In a region that has always shown an appetite for branded products, resellers know it is vital to convince the market of the qualities possessed by the brands they represent. Distributors are getting in on the act too of course, helping to manage vendors’ channel marketing campaigns and running roadshows and seminars that bring together all levels of the channel.

The ways in which this is being implemented are changing all the time. Constant evolution is a fundamental part of ensuring marketing strategies do not become stale.

You only have to look at the frustration expressed by vendors who have spent heavily on running big events involving hundreds of attendees in the past, only to later discover that the attendees failed to take their message home. Recent trends, therefore, have seen a gravitation towards smaller, more intimate events, such as roundtables and seminars, which have proved to be much more productive.

Vendors in the Middle East have illustrated they are no slouch when it comes to marketing. CA, for example, has received global accolades for its success in the region with homegrown schemes such as its ‘ESP Campus’ and ‘Channel Marketing Centre’. The software vendor will soon be running marketing courses for its partners online.

McAfee is another vendor showing innovation in its schemes and recently launched a credit card initiative for partners to spend their accumulated rebates in retail stores across the region.

As the internet becomes increasingly utilised in this region, vendors are progressively becoming reliant on the use of web portals, e-marketing campaigns and e-newsletters to communicate to partners. In a region where face-to-face communication is highly valued, the one danger facing some vendors is that the relationship they enjoy with partners could be eroded if they don’t achieve the right balance. Those unable to manage this threat could jeopardise their operations in the region.

Planning is the key to successful channel marketing campaigns, according to the majority of vendors we speak to. Their job is to provide direction, guidelines and resources, although it must be said that obtaining feedback and dialogue from partners is equally vital to ensuring the development of a good marketing strategy.

The implementation is down to the partners who take the tools to the market in a bid to convey the vendor’s message accurately and effectively. The vendor, however, has a responsibility to make this process as simple as possible for the channel. As the Middle East market matures, expect the content of vendor channel marketing programmes to play an even greater role in determining reseller loyalty.

Look out for our feature on channel marketing in the forthcoming issue of Channel Middle East. We reveal how some of the region’s leading vendors intend to develop their marketing tools and what role they see the channel playing in defining a successful Middle East marketing strategy.

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