Traditional channel marketing models no longer work.
In the past IT departments would install pipes, wires, computers, and storage to support a corporate infrastructure. CIO’s would piece together the required infrastructure based on expert opinions from channel partners representing the OEMs.
Thanks in some part to vendor consolidation, a CIO would visit a channel partner’s website, and look for brands they support. Decisions would be made through brand recognition and trust. Branded microsites were helpful to explain a specific brand’s technical offering.
However, the dynamics have now changed fairly dramatically in large part due to the move to the cloud and the sheer number of technologies needed for review. Trust comes first and the ability to understand a business problem is a very close second. Recognition of vendor branding is a lagging third.
No longer are the CIO’s just buying the Cisco router. They are deciding on operating systems, security solutions (often multiple solutions), data monitoring, and many other cloud applications.
For example, AWS’s marketplace has 7 categories and 3,737 solutions to choose from.
With so many offerings it becomes nearly impossible for a CIO to make all the decisions. Instead, they find a team that they trust, and that team typically belongs to an MSP (managed service provider) or MSSP (managed security service provider). These companies are helping to clarify what solutions are best to accomplish specific business goals.
The advent of these new smaller channel partners for the OEM means OEM channel managers are faced with a paradigm shift and a battle over mindshare which has not been seen since the dawn of the technology marketplace.
For the OEM what is the key to winning the battle for the MSP’s and MSSP’s ?
Education and empowerment.
Many MSP’s and MSSP’s I have talked with obtain a large percentage of their business through referrals. Referrals read their blogs, social sites, and subscribe to newsletters of their prospective vendors. They seek a knowledgeable partner who understands a range of business problems. And more often than not, a solution requires multiple technologies tied together.
Prospects want to know that their technology partner can understand their business need.
One MSSP that we interviewed shared that clients come in, and are then nurtured toward a complete solution with relevant content on their blog (not via a syndicated content site). The content is not OEM branded, it is business branded. This addresses problems that the MSP can solve.
The challenge that many OEM’s will face is that success requires a change in mindset.
MSP’s and MSSP’s are still in a growth stage that requires investment and time in brand development and growth.
Traditional MDF models are difficult to overlay on top of these partners.
Single brand focused microsites offer little value to the MSP’s prospects, since often they focus on a single product and not a complete solution.
The Channel Marketing Manager who understands that a channel partner’s business requires them to recommend multiple solutions will have greater success.
So what do you need to do to succeed?
We’ve been in the business of building innovative channel marketing solutions for 20 years. We would love to hear more about your company and provide you some interesting ideas.