Last year a majority of the VARs slowed their marketing spending during the down economy. As we move into this new year, I would argue that many VARs are following the same plan and perhaps rightfully so as the economy still remains a bit shaky. But spending less money doesn’t necessarily mean reduced marketing — Now is a good time to review your brand.
I am encouraged to see a growing trend that I have not seen in many years among the VAR community. Many VARs are making an effort to brand and promote their own unique value above and beyond any vendor affiliation. Creating this differentiation within a landscape that could easily be described as a commodity can only have a positive affect. With long term goals in mind, VAR marketing must go beyond the very common messages focused on vendor certifications and the perceived benefit of associating with these multi-billion-dollar brands. A reliance on provided vendor messaging will only hamper the ability of a VAR to communicate its point of difference in the crowded marketplace.
Tech buyers have consistently suggested that it’s more important for a VAR to align tightly to its organizational needs by communicating more relevant expertise than to promote the Platinum, Gold or Silver level of certification they may have with any vendor. VARs can strengthen their customer relationships by highlighting the value they deliver, communicating their deep vertical expertise or by providing above-and-beyond services for more basic infrastructure issues. Of course, these are only a few general thoughts that demonstrate a path towards more unique messaging and must be underpinned by the VAR’s ability and not necessarily the vendor’s marketplace message.
The economy has forced many VARs to simply become better business people instead of relying on vendors for marketing differentiation and business expertise. VARs have to work hard to identify what their unique position is within the marketplace and develop their own brands to ensure they can stand out among the crowd.
The smart ones will understand that the canned messaging and marketing programs provided by these vendors…. is not a VAR identity.