One of the most common demands that resellers make ofvendors is for assistance with marketing – not just in those cases where theycannot afford to do any themselves, but also to help channel marketers improvetheir performance.
So it was refreshing to attend an event held by Cisco in Paris last week which hadmarketing as the main topic on the agenda, putting the vendor’s own productmessaging firmly in the shade.
Speakers at Partner Velocity included well-known marketingspecialists who covered topics including developing a personal brand, improvingthe way that resellers promote themselves, and how to gain an insight into thepsychology of the customer.
But the main message that resellers received repeatedly overthe three-day event was that in an era when social networking tools such asTwitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook are all free, the cost of marketing hasbecome one of effort and intelligence, and not so much about big budgets.
“You can deliver cost-effective marketing, and you don’tneed Hollywood budgets to do video,” saidLuanne Tierney, vice-president, worldwide channels marketing at Cisco.
Embrace social mediaTierney urged resellers to embrace social media, andparticularly Twitter, to network and communicate with vendors and customers.One of the areas where Cisco is particularly keen to get partners active isvideo, exploiting sites such as YouTube.
It also urged partners to engage in the conversational styleof communication that is emerging online.
“The way I see tweeting is that it gives me an opportunityto have a conversation with you and any partners on Twitter. I will followyou,” said Tierney.
The overall theme of Partner Velocity was to accelerate outof the downturn.
Edison Peres, senior vice-president, worldwide channelsgo-to-market group at Cisco, said that marketing budgets had been underpressure, but those who invested would reap the rewards.
“We need to accelerate from where we were last year. A lotof the growth is going to happen because there is a lot of pent up demand thatis going to be released based on the messages and techniques resellers use toexplain the benefits of technology,” he said.
Help for resellersIn an effort to put its money where its mouth is, Cisco isputting more of its marketing resources online and is prepared to offer morepractical assistance to resellers looking for help promoting themselves in themarket.
Most of the experts at the Velocity event emphasised theneed to put effort into defining and improving brand as part of a campaign toadd value to a reseller business.
Apple and Microsoft were held up as examples of brands thathad managed to establish in the shorthand of a logo or a brief start-up themean identity that was understood instantly by the customer.
Partners wereencouraged to think about how they treat their identity, moving away from theaverage bland logo on headed notepaper to differentiate from the competition.
Cisco certainly used Velocity to show that it takesmarketing concerns seriously, and for those sceptics in the channel concernedabout budgets and campaign costs, the way forward seems to be more about usingfree platforms, with the main investment being time.