Friday, March 18, 2005

Channel Trend: Packaged Services Create Opportunities

Several vendors are making real opportunities for mid-market VARs. SAS is doing it right, taking key VARs from Microsoft with the most direct of value propositions: BPoC (Big Piles of Cash).

IGS's expansion into the mid-market is similar to Cisco's channel recruitment push of the mid-nineties. By targeting VARs with customers in the 100 to 1000 employee range, IBM wants to increase partner revenue from 5% to 40%.

Think of this as equity-free venture capital for the Channel. IBM, Microsoft, SAS and other major vendors are creating multi-billion dollar opportunities for qualified partners. Their success will be driven by how well they develop their programs and strategies, by the ability of their field to have executive conversations, and by the way they address conflict.

The Channel Pro
Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.


Thursday, March 17, 2005

Channel Marketing: The Role of Branding in Distribution

I recently read the book “Brand Royalty” by Matt Haig. Some publicist sent it to me, having found my name among a list of bloggers.

I hated it. I dislike most business books, especially marketing books. “Brand Royalty” is no exception.

It lacked insight and applicability. The case studies were shallow. The 'secrets' were a mix of consequences, positioning and strategies. The categories were arbitrary. What is the difference between innovators and pioneers, or between 'responsibility brands' and 'emotion brands'? Hell if I know, even after reading the book. I don't think Matt knows either.

I like the topic though. While not “the most important aspect of business”, branding is a key element of a good channel. I am of the camp that builds brands through repetition of experience versus repetition of message.

In the long run experience makes or breaks a brand regardless of short-term publicity. And in the tech industry, fad brands die fast.

Brand development in the channel goes through five phases:

1) Innovation
2) Sales
3) Standardization
4) Protection
5) Evolution

Most problems occur in the channel when companies try to substitute brand for sales or standardization.

The Channel Pro


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Channel Impact: Reach Extends Beyond Expectations

I had a great phone call with a channel provider today. Last weekend I had a voice mail on my home phone that said "If this is the Scott Karren who used to run MSI Consulting Group, please call me." Today I connected with him. Here is his story.

In the late nineties, he read a white paper we wrote called The Emergence of the Solution Provider. The heart of the paper was the transformation of a technology reseller into a business solution provider; someone who sells business impact versus technology. After reading the article, he and his partner restructured their company, TCS Technology, according to the business model described in the paper. He called to tell me how well it had worked and to say thanks.

With direct clients, I usually know the impact we have on the business. But with a white paper printed in VAR Business, the reach is invisible. This is analogous to companies that sell through channels. The reach and impact is not directly visible to sales managers. However, just because it is not seen, does not mean it is not happening. Channel companies need formal systems to identify and measure their indirect reach and coverage.

Thanks again to TCS Technology in Tenn. You made my day. I look forward to visiting with you on one of my next trips across the country.


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