Brand equity

Every reseller likes to think they offer the best service in town, but unless they market themselves properly there is always the risk that they will be overlooked when end-customers go searching for that trusted supplier. A structured marketing plan is something that no reseller can do without.

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By  Andrew Seymour Published  July 25, 2010

Resellers generally do a good job of marketing products and solutions from IT vendors which rely on them to reach the market, but they often overlook how important it is to market their own brand.

Yet as any company which understands the significance of a solid marketing plan will testify, unless you can articulate the strengths of your business and make your name heard in the market, customers aren’t going to know what you offer.

Any customer about to invest a large chunk of money on a new IT system or project will naturally seek a provider that can show it possesses the skills and capabilities to get the job done, which is why resellers need to constantly reinforce their qualities through the various marketing channels available to them.

Focused advertising and marketing campaigns on relevant customer segments are widely regarded as the most effective way for resellers to emphasise their expertise, more so if their budget is limited, which is often the case. And while the marketing statements developed by vendors are often well studied and communicated through multiple channels, resellers largely have to prioritise where their message will have the most impact.

Chandan Mehta, product manager at Fujitsu Technology Solutions, estimates that less than a third of resellers in the Middle East are ensuring their business is marketed well to their customers. “I would say that 30% of resellers have their strategy well thought out and they are doing this consciously. The others are mainly doing transactional business, so they’re not looking to market themselves or make their own name strong — they are just one of a bunch,” he says.

StoreTech, a Symantec and EonStor reseller, agrees that it is about time that channel players took stock of how well they market their own brands. “There is no doubt that enhancing the brand of the company is extremely important and a never-ending process,” says the firm’s managing director Anil Gupta. “Shelling out real dollars to promote non own-manufactured products — especially when you consider that almost every vendor is represented by multiple partners — may not be the best action for the short- or long-term interests of the company.”

Gupta says StoreTech uses a classic mixture of marketing vices, such as tele-marketing and end-user visits, presentations and demonstrations. It also actively participates alongside vendors at key events such as GITEX, pointing out that potential customers are far more likely to take a channel company seriously if they enjoy vendor endorsement.

“By explaining our strengths in niche segments, coupled with vendor accreditations and existing successful implementations, our chances are certainly bettered,” insists Gupta. What is apparent is that marketing is an area of the business that resellers should be paying attention to at all times, not just dipping in and out of whenever there is something new to announce. Feras Al-Jabi, general manager of UAE systems integrator ITQAN, insists his company considers marketing a major priority.

“We are always undertaking marketing campaigns that aim to publicise our key accomplishments, whether they are in the form of awards and certifications we receive, key projects we are starting or have signed off with major organisations in the UAE, or new partnerships with leading industry players.”

Some resellers, such as Al-Futtaim Technologies, are starting to assess the new marketing channels that are available to them and analyse how best they can blend those with more conventional methods to reinforce their brand name in the market.

Al-Futtaim’s marketing team is supported by an in-house marketing agency which helps with the planning of tactical marketing activities, says general manager Venkat Raghavan. “We actively participate in exhibitions and seminars, hold customer road shows and communicate with the media on a frequent basis,” he explains. “We are also exploring the possibilities with social media and content-based advertising.”

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