Marketing Communications Collateral that Builds Product Awareness Requires a Renovation for Enterprise IT Markets in 2013

In 2013 Marketing communications collateral that builds product awareness for an audience of channel partners must be redesigned. While product comparisons may still provide useful topics, we think that the actual basis of comparison presented by product awareness collateral needs a renovation.

For example, no one has an interest in a comparison of product features outside of the context of a discussion of solutions. Therefore, we think it makes sense for product awareness collateral to present the most popular solutions that can make use of a specific product, or, for that matter, its competitors. Certainly it is safe to present important features within the context of a presentation of popular solutions. Further, a product to product comparison based upon features within a success story, case study, or other solution document can be useful.

But some mention, as well, should be made in the product awareness document as to why cited solutions have attracted market popularity. Invariably, this type of mention will include some reference to broad benefits. We think the more successful of these marketing communications efforts will include some cost information within the benefit presentation.

After all, enterprise IT organizations, in 2013, are still looking as intently, as ever, to reduce the cost of computing solutions. Channel partners providing these organizations with solutions should be comfortable and familiar with this type of benefits discussion. Therefore, providing the benefit background to solutions should be very useful for prospective channel partners.

In the interests of keeping marketing communication terse and strictly on point, we think it makes sense to provide channel partners with several pieces of product awareness collateral, perhaps 2 case studies (or in depth presentations of popular solutions), a product brochure, and, of most importance, a product summary document. This product summary document should be largely composed of bullets (or other very short summary statements that present key points about products) that reference points illustrated elsewhere in the product kit.

It is important to set realistic expectations for the results of a product awareness campaign. Certainly, the best gauge of the success of the campaign should be sales. If there is no other way to gauge the effectiveness of a marketing communications campaign, intended to promote product awareness on the part of channel partners, then an analysis of sales figures should provide indication of whether the campaign has worked, or not. If sales are growing, and sales growth can be attributed to better understanding of product positioning, then we think ISVs should consider this type of product awareness campaign to be a success.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved


Marketing Communications Needs to Build Product Awareness on the Part of Enterprise IT Channel Partners

IMB Enterprises, Inc. is a consulting firm that provides early stage technology businesses with a range of services in the “business building” category. A leading offering for us are lead generation services, which are a combination of targeted direct marketing communications with a follow up telephone call from either a telemarketer or a teleprospector. You can learn more about our services by contacting us by telephone at +1 631-673-2929. Alternatively, please contact us via our online form.

This post is the third in a series on what we think are some important changes in the familiar dynamics of building a channel sales strategy for software products on the periphery of core demand for enterprise IT customers. We collected the information we are presenting here as the result of some of our current activities. What we have noted from some recent discussions with prominent IT services companies offering systems administration and software development to enterprise IT customers is their need for the type of marketing communications collateral that will build awareness on the part of their personnel of a product offer.

It is worth taking a moment to look further into what these contacts may have had in mind. First, we think that these contacts meant “product awareness,” rather than simply “awareness”. If our reader can stay with us as we make this leap, then we can propose that the traditional definition of product awareness is vague (“knowledge about the particular products . . .” can mean very different things to different readers), with an emphasis on the use of marketing collateral as a means of comparing different offerings for the same application from different manufacturers.

We don’t think that this traditional definition of product awareness is particularly relevant, in 2013. In fact we think our contacts used the term “awareness” to either let us know that their personnel have simply far too many products to think about at any time, or to let us know that staff activities on behalf of clients are strictly limited by their clients, with the result that their personnel lack the time to conceptualize the solutions that products like ours can be used to build.

In either case, without material to build this awareness, our clients’ products would be relegated to the role of an invisible option, seldom discussed and almost never recommended. Of course, invisible products are never sold. Therefore, these contacts were alerting us that we need to provide some very important information that builds awareness as a first step towards building a sales partnership with their respective firms.

In our next post in this series we will look at, specifically, the type of content that we recommend for inclusion in product awareness marketing communications collateral for enterprise IT software products.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved


A Transformed Enterprise IT Buyer has Transformed the Business Model of the Services Companies that Provide Support, and More

Much has been written over the last several years about the characteristics of a new enterprise IT buyer for 2013. We have written about this new buyer in earlier posts to this blog, for example in a post on the possible Obsolescence of Outside Software Sales Teams [as a result of] a Combination of Factors.

The bottom line on this new buyer is that she does almost all of the work required to research, specify, and identify likely solutions for “bleeding wounds” online before ever lifting a telephone to call on a sales organization.

Further, she is likely to be a survivor of a number of failed IT projects. We have written on this topic of failed IT projects earlier in this blog in a post titled Buyer Skepticism must be an Underlying Assumption for Enterprise IT Sales in 2012. This experience, where lots of money was expended on IT projects that failed to deliver a return on investment (ROI), as anticipated, has fed the enterprise need for so-called “portfolio management,” which amounts to an activity undertaken to ensure that, for future projects, all efforts will be made to capture as much of anticipated ROI as possible.

Our recent interactions with the services companies that do business with this new enterprise IT buyer, meaning the systems integration businesses, development shops, and other consulting and even advisory firms, indicate that they, too, have been transformed to keep up with the times, and in a manner that increases the difficulty that most ISVs will likely face should these ISVs opt to pursue channel sales strategies targeting these services businesses.

Specifically, we think that enterprise IT market demand for turnkey systems integration work is a mere shadow of earlier years. The reason for this decline in demand is that enterprise IT organizations, generally, are shouldering more of the responsibility for all of the key aspects, meaning the actual answers to “who/where/how/why” questions for all implementations of solutions for core requirements.

Enterprise IT may not provide the actual human resources required to implement core projects, but they do, with increasing frequency, specifically direct all aspects of the implementation. Therefore, in this new world, the type of products that we discussed in yesterday’s post to this blog, specifically, products on the periphery of core demand, which, nevertheless, can play an important role in an integrated solution, will likely have to look to joint marketing opportunities with vendors of core solutions if they are to capture the attention of channel partners.

In the next post in this series we will look at how this constrained atmosphere necessitates a different set of themes for marketing communications efforts for these peripheral products in search of channel partners.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved


Important Points for Enterprise IT ISVs to Address as They Consider Implementing a Channel Sales Strategy

There are many reasons for enterprise IT ISVs to consider implementing a channel sales strategy for products. In our experience the most prominent of these are:

  • an ISV is supported by too few internal sales personnel, or
  • a software product requires a comparatively complex installation, which is usually accomplished with some significant amount of customer-specific customization, or
  • a software product (usually a commodity) is targeted to a market where customers generally work with a select set of prime vendors and have little to no motivation to change their buying preferences

Another very important reason for enterprise IT ISVs to explore the opportunity presented by a channel sales strategy stems from the distance between a software product’s typical application and the core driver of market interest.

It is worth taking a few words to explain this last notion. Consider that products designed to satisfy peripheral market needs are, necessarily, located at a distance from the core market driver. Examples of these software products on the periphery include, but are certainly not limited to, applications designed to enable wider use of specific features of the core application. These products are usually captive to the core application and intended to meet the needs of specific market niches.

If one considers Microsoft® SharePoint® as a core solution designed to address a need for enterprise content management, then a product like the Outlook to SharePoint connector offered by Colligo Networks can be seen as a means of enabling users to extract better performance from SharePoint, itself. We note that Colligo Networks’ solution provides SharePoint users with a seamless method of storing email data to document libraries, in other words the system works without any need for human intervention, thereby ensuring that a substantial proportion of documents sent by email, as well as email messages, themselves, will be correctly stored in SharePoint document libraries.

While gaining assurance that most email messaging is recorded in SharePoint document libraries may not be critically important to lots of businesses, for those businesses operating in highly regulated industries, where adhering to compliance regulations is an ongoing imperative, gaining such assurance is, in fact, very valuable, and, more often than not, worth the cost of acquiring a solution like the one offered by Colligo Networks.

In our experience, products positioned at a distance from core market drivers, which, nevertheless, can be used, like Colligo’s Outlook to SharePoint connector, to deliver a tangibly more valuable solution to users, are particularly well positioned for a channel sales strategy. After all, for a range of service providers, including businesses offering users system integration, or custom development, it makes sense to include these products in project implementation plans for the strategic role they play in ensuring that the end customer receives optimum value.

Therefore, one could argue that the task of attracting channel partners, for peripheral products correctly positioned, should be a rather easy one for sales. But, as we will show in the next post to this blog, in 2013 some other factors are at work that act as repellents, regardless of how successful a product market message may be.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved