The Australian technology sector continues to flourish in 2008, with positive implications for vendors and partners alike. As in recent years, small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) are one of the biggest "push" areas for just about all major global and local vendors including Cisco, IBM and HP. The focus today is on the increasing yet pragmatic use of IT by companies of all sizes.
This presents good continuing sales and marketing opportunities for the channel simply because vendors don't have the resources to forge multiple relationships with smaller companies. Resellers and partners own the relationship with the audience predicted to be the primary ongoing revenue stream for IT vendors.
To capitalise on this opportunity, you'll need to develop your brand fundamentals using effective marketing, consistent messaging and positive positioning. This will generate attention and interest from both business customers and IT vendors. But how is this achieved when you're faced with the harsh realities of limited budget and resources?
Getting brand fundamentals right
However good the opportunities are, the SMB market remains an intensely competitive field. A focus on your brand and marketing fundamentals will pay off, and it starts with positive referrals. As is often stated, word of mouth is the best form of marketing. But when people seek you out as a result of a referral, you need to make sure these first touch points - such as your website, or sales and brochure collateral - are going to generate a positive response.
A limited budget is best channelled into developing a consistent message, image and position for your organisation. The importance in maximising the impact across your Web and corporate collateral cannot be underestimated. Too often, we've seen limited budgets poured into a single direct marketing, advertising or lead generation campaign - in one big splash - only to find the organisation has inadequate back-end supporting material, or worse, lacks the resources to follow up the interest created by the campaign.
In our experience, developing your collateral to assist the sale through the cycle is a better upfront investment - especially if there are gaps which need addressing.
Targeted, manageable campaigns
Once your fundamentals are in place, it's time to undertake a marketing campaign to generate further sales. There are different options to explore, but rather than pursuing a large, costly campaign - even if it's co-funded by a vendor - you'll be able to achieve better ongoing business levels through smaller, more targeted campaigns with constant customer touch points over a sustained period of time.
Online media is a great tool for cut through and cost-effective campaign measurement, but we all know how frustrating Internet or email intrusions can be. In our experience, digital marketing works best as part of an integrated campaign; avoiding the stigma of clutter, and creating another meaningful touch point to assist with a purchasing decision.
With so many players vying for IT spend, a focus on your marketing fundamentals pays off. It's worth insisting that your creative concepts, design and copywriting are a cut above the industry norm - this can also be essential in cutting through in the crowded technology marketplace.