It's understood that as resellers, and as business owners or managers, you possess a certain skill set and level of expertise that make you good at what you do. Even with those skills, if you want to attract new customers and earn the opportunity to build a solid reputation, you have to delve into marketing.
Since the first official ads appeared on television in the 1940s, since the earliest company name was literally branded into the side of a shipment barrel, in fact, since writing tools were first put to papyrus, merchants have leveraged marketing and branding to serve their commercial gains. It's hard to argue with that many centuries of strategy.
It's also understood, however, that marketing requires a totally different set of resources than you're likely to have at your disposal. Let's face it, as small business resellers in an uncertain economy, not many of you have the luxury of adding a marketing staff or even one marketing specialist.
Many of your channel partners have developed cooperative marketing programs that you can leverage at little or no cost.
The good news is that many of your channel partners have developed cooperative marketing programs that you can leverage at little or no cost. Distributors can be especially helpful in this regard, since their own partnerships with a variety of vendors can extend to you a broad base of materials. This expanded portfolio of technological resources can address not just different individual products, but sets of products in particular verticals, or categorical, turnkey solutions such as server architecture or a mobile networking environment.
But whatever marketing assistance you require, here are some guidelines to help you get the most from partner marketing programs:
1. Let the experts do the work for you. Why try to reinvent the wheel under your own roof when you can get access to existing material from your partners' dedicated marketing departments? The good news is that some partners have more financial resources than your company, and can more effectively create adaptable pieces that are slick, professional, and effective - and can accommodate your own branding - to reach potential SMB customers.
2. Leverage quality brands. Seek out materials that feature industry-leading manufacturers to elevate your own brand through association. It's a win-win proposition for manufacturers to extend these resources, since any advertising you do on their behalf obviously promotes their own interests as well.
Take advantage of manufacturer and distributor resource sites and portal-based programs, many of which offer a wide range of tools. Some companies offer co-op marketing funds for advertising purposes, which will save your company both time and funding, while enabling you to gain a crucial edge in this ever-evolving market.
3. Be selective. When choosing partner marketing materials, you should focus on a select few programs with offerings that align most closely with your business. Stay away from all-encompassing, multimarket campaigns that can be a challenge to manage - and which have been the downfall of many larger-scale, complex, cooperative marketing programs.
If you're discerning and strategic, then tapping into your partners' marketing offerings is a cost-effective way to launch a professional-level campaign that's tailored to your focus areas. By lending out their marketing talents - and their established branding - your partners can certainly help empower your own brand and increase your business.
MARY CAMPBELL is vice president of marketing for D&H Distributing Co., a Harrisburg, Pa.-based technology distributor focused on the SMB reseller.