Business drivers

Vendors and distributors are driving channel marketing programmes to resellers to help ensure ongoing revenue and boost brand awareness. With business becoming highly competitive in the region, the level of scrutiny directed at channel marketing strategies is far greater now than in the past.

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Business drivers
By  Manda Banda Published  July 29, 2014

Although the business climate in the regional channel has improved significantly following the financial meltdown a few years ago, with channel marketing budgets steadily increasing, it has led a vast majority of vendors and distributors to demand greater return on their investments (ROI).

As the channel continues to contract, competition for mindshare has continued to increase and with the increasing number of communication channels, marketers have a challenging job to cut through and connect with the broader channel ecosystem.

While the major vendors and distributors have maintained their IT budgets, their focus and emphasis on ROI is far greater now than a few years ago.

Ian Hutchinson, global director, Channel Strategy, ICLP, said as the channel continues to contract, competition for mindshare will continue to increase and with the increasing number of communication channels marketers have a challenging job to cut through and connect with resellers.

Hutchinson said as a loyalty marketing agency, ICLP’s focus is a little different than vendors or distributors as it works with them to design and implement strategies and channel marketing initiatives. “This helps to build stronger and more engaged relationships with channel partners to drive sales and revenue and in turn enables the vendors, distributors and resellers to successfully grow their businesses,” he said.

Hutchinson pointed out that most vendors manage their partner relationships through structured, tiered partner programmes, which is a key vehicle for channel marketing initiatives. He said being able to generate insight from the available data sources connected to the programme, mainly partner profile and sales activity, can create meaningful segments and allow communications to be highly targeted and tailored for individual channel partners.

Manish Punjabi, channel marketing manager MEA, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, said channel marketing is vital to the company as it is committed to a complete indirect model. Punjabi said Alcatel is one of the few vendors in the region that has an allocated role of a channel marketing manager to drive its channel programme and enable partners to have direct access to resources based in MEA instead of going to its EMEA headquarters. “I work closely with Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise partners to enable them transition from using one-off marketing tactics to multi-touch programmes that make use of PR, social media and digital marketing in order to generate better awareness, demand and consequently, revenue,” he said. “We are running programmes that target existing customers to upsell and explore cross-selling opportunities in the region.”

According to Punjabi, the upsell aspect is a global annual initiative that offers pre-defined tools, discounts, incentives and marketing to encourage Alcatel’s end customers to maintain the latest software release and service contract. He added that the cross-sell aspect is tweaked to suit the local flavour for each partner and often becomes a new sub-initiative limited to three or four months.

Despite the market squeeze and decline in marketing budgets in some instances, major vendors and distributors have continued to drive channel marketing programmes to reseller partners to help ensure ongoing revenue and boost brand awareness.

Elham Alizadeh, channel marketing manager at ESET Middle East, said in today’s highly competitive market, channel marketing initiatives play a very important role in ensuring that resellers are inspired. “ESET’s go-to-market follows a 100% channel model so keeping our partners motivated and satisfied is absolutely essential to our success. We not only cater to the enterprise segment but also to home users as this is an area that is targed by a number of well-established competitors,” she said.

Alizadeh said relying solely on technology is not feasible since it is our partners who ultimately drive sales and the company regularly comes up with innovative ways to help them succeed in the market.

Hutchinson pointed out that before determining the marketing strategy, clear business and marketing goals, and objectives need to be set and approved.

“The desired outcome needs to be fully considered and the view of what success looks like needs to be determined,” he said.

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