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Channel marketing scope has widened

Those looking after industry brands are increasingly taking on sustainability as an area of responsibility

The challenges facing Richard Eglon, chief marketing officer (CMO) at Nebula Global Services, illustrate the way the marketing function at a channel business has expanded over the past few years and the role the CMO plays in supporting the success of the business.

The pressure on marketing staff across the industry to deliver tools that support point of sale activities and generate fresh leads remains an ongoing one. But there is an increasingly need to think about more fundamental brand equity, with ESG underpinning the values of a business.

Eglon joined nebula Global Services back in September, building on a long career in channel marketing including spells at Comms-care and Agilitas, and he has already been looking to establish brand equity. Affirming what the business stands for and helping an external audience grasp those values and ambitions is a task that will put the firm in a stronger position in the future.

Eglon talks of establishing foundations to support the building of a grand hotel, against the other option of shallower measures that could only take the weight of a bungalow. It is not an investment every channel player will prioritise, but it is one that will reap the rewards in the years to come, he argued.

“What’s happening is they’re at the investment and build stage, installing the right disciplines, getting the relevant certifications, and following the right processes. We believe by taking this approach we’re building foundations for a more sustainable future growth,” he said.

“This isn’t just about marketing. It’s about marketing working closer with the HR and the wider business to nurture the right culture. What I’ve found is the marketing function have become much more hybrid. During the past five years especially, ESG seems to be actively driven by departments such as marketing, HR and compliance, especially in smaller businesses,” he said.

As marketing roles have expanded to include more ESG activities, there is an increasing awareness that sharing best practice and informing the rest of the industry on progress and experiences is a positive move.

Most distributors, MSPs and resellers have embarked on their journeys to net zero but at different speeds, adhering to various frameworks that could create the danger of inconsistencies across the industry.

Nebula has shared its sustainability strategy openly, but is looking to carry that forward with plans to start tracking engineers to chart their carbon emissions.

“That becomes a much more intrinsic value to the supply chain because, at the moment, people say, ‘Okay, you are going to deliver that service, but what environmental impact does that have?’. Well, we’ve got some statistics around the carbon impact,” Eglon said.

As customers look to channel partners to help them extend the life of hardware and deal with recycling, there will be more collaborations and further pressure on firms to have a firm grip on where carbon emissions are being generated. Being open about green ambitions and sharing routes to get there will help the wider channel and remove weakness from the supply chain.

“The value chain, we talk about upstream-downstream – in the whole, the technology channel is only as strong as the weakest link. And there’s a lot of links in that chain,” Eglon said.

“There’s a lot of people deploying sustainable innovations in silos. They’ve got to start engaging at every level and support a more collaborative process as that’s their gift to give. It’s this collaboration what makes it exciting. My belief is that we need to take more of an open source approach for the future of our industry.” 

But at the same time as promoting ESG efforts and working with the local community to establish the business and its team members as positive contributors to good causes, there is also a continued need to deliver the traditional marketing support.

Against a backdrop of ChatGPT and the temptation to use artificial intelligence (AI) to quickly generate campaigns, the need for an authentic approach is as important as it has ever been, according to Eglon.

“Creativity and innovation, whatever subject matter, is imperative,” he said, adding that delivering original content would resonate more with users while still embracing the benefits of AI toolsets.

His focus at Nebula is on building a sustainable brand that will enhance the business proposition and give it the ability to use that grounding to support business growth and future service development.

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