Market Movers

While the recession may not have had a significant impact on the value of marketing budgets, it has led to a real or perceived focus on innovation in the sector as the vast majority of vendors demand greater return on their investments.

Tags: Cisco Systems IncorporatedEMC CorporationFujitsu Technology Solutions - UAEJacky's ElectronicsUnited Arab EmiratesXerox Corporation
  • E-Mail
Market Movers Jai Shankar, marketing manager, Brother International Gulf FZE
More pics ›
By  Aaron Greenwood Published  June 15, 2011

Increased competition among resellers combined with a downturn in consumer spending brought on by the recession has had a major impact on channel marketing strategies in recent years.

While the vast majority of major vendors maintained their marketing budgets during the recession, their focus on ROI (return on investment) eclipsed most other concerns. The level of scrutiny directed at existing and planned channel marketing strategies marked a significant turning point for the Middle East channel, which had traditionally enjoyed healthy capital flows even despite a relative lack of hard data on marketing returns.

“In a strange way I classify it [the impact of the recession] as positive,” says Alexandra Pisetskaya, marketing communications manager for help AG Middle East.

“While budgets are smaller in some cases, marketing activity has become more focused and targeted. There is a lot less money being wasted on lavish giveaways and corporate events. The main negative effect, as I see it, is when marketing becomes so tied to short-term ROI that activities become too tactical or ad-hoc, which in the long-run hurts business,” says Pisetskaya.

While recognising the importance of maintaining budgets, major vendors surveyed for this article all stressed the importance of ROI on their marketing strategies.

“Despite the economic challenges, we have maintained a constant level of investment in our marketing resources,” claims Fahad Alamoudi, regional marketing manager, Cisco UAE & Gulf.

“However, our allocation of resources has required deeper analysis. ROI, mapped to a priority-based-investment, is now analysed as a metric, which we take into account before making any marketing decision.”

“Marketing is hugely important during tough economic times,” adds Dan Smith, head of Integrated Marketing for the Middle East and Africa region of Xerox’s Developing Markets Operations. “Consumers don’t stop buying products during these periods. They may become more selective, but they are still going to buy from brands they know and trust. The more visible your brand, the more confidence you instill in your customers.”

Ashish Panjabi, COO of UAE power retailer, Jacky’s Electronics, says his company has witnessed an increased emphasis from vendor partners on “running promotions aimed at delivering maximum consumer value, whether that be in the form of bundles, FOCs, or other innovative packages designed to deliver value to customers”.

“Virtually every retailer in every segment has been more active since the recession. While this is partly due to increased competition they are also mindful of the fact that if they don’t invest in marketing during difficult times, they won’t generate sales,” Panjabi says.

Many major vendors operating in the Middle East have taken the opportunity to consolidate their channel strategies in the post-recessionary period, implementing or enhancing programmes that enabled them to cultivate a universal marketing strategy in conjunction with their approved reseller partners. By offering a variety of incentives and rewards, these vendors have looked to breed loyalty among their channel partners.

Cisco’s Partner Marketing Central programme offers partners access to an online repository of marketing resources including banners, telemarketing scripts and e-mail templates for direct marketing campaigns. It also offers mechanisms intended to support joint marketing activities as well as data analysis measuring the impact of recent campaigns. Cisco recently launched its Select channel programme for network technology partners, providing professional training services, a 2% backend rebate and individual rewards for standout sales staff.

“We’re constantly honing our marketing approach in conjunction with our partners,” says Alamoudi.

“As an example, we recently launched a demand generation campaign in the region. As part of this, we set up a website which asks customers to identify specific technical or commercial challenges. The website tracks customer activities and provides them with real-time feedback aimed at solving whatever these challenges are.”

Online channel marketing and training services have come of age in recent years, according to Hussein Shehab, channel director for Fujitsu Technology Solutions Middle East.

“Given the different time zones in which our partners operate, online training and marketing tools enable them to develop skills at their own pace,” he says. “All of our basic certified-training programmes are now available online.

“In addition, collateral material including brochures and leaflets, is available online. We try to ensure our local partners do not incur any creative expenses when implementing our marketing campaigns.”

Haidi Nossair, regional marketing manager, EMC Turkey Emerging Africa and Middle East, says that marketing is even more important in emerging markets:

“I believe channel marketing is exceptionally important because in highly emerging markets like the middle east countries it is the tool for resellers to create brand recognition for themselves, position their value  to the markets they cover, enable them to open opportunities in new market segments as well as new geographies. Positioning through marketing the quality of services they offer to their customers, aligned with the brand names they work with, strengthens their value proposition and builds confidence with their customers.”

SAP is another company to have recently overhauled its approach to the market, in a bid to be perceived as “far more friendly to its channel partners”, explains Sam Al Kharrat, the company’s managing director in the MENA region.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code