Marketing has become the differentiating point between resellers and vendors as consumers realise commoditised technologies are the same across the board, according to online marketing firm elateral.
Elateral is finding a home in the IT sector after adding colour printing specialist Minolta-QMS to its list of personal branding clients. Minolta is offering its resellers free customised advertising over the Web to cash-in on vendor promotions. It also allows them to personalise the advertisement to suit their company.
"In IT the only differentiating factor has become the branding," says Gerard Gabella, elateral's vice president of marketing. "It's not what's in the machine. [Customers] and [vendors] know that it's all the same but don't admit it. So, the market has to induce the feeling that to have brand X over brand Y will be better."
Gabella says that this feeling can be induced at all levels, not just at the top of the food chain. "Proximity marketing has become the priority. Making the connection between the global view and the local impact," he says. However, Gabella admits that it will take time for resellers to accept the benefits over the cost of a one-year elateral licensing contract. "elateral technology gives any brand the ability to go further than it would by itself. It will do the same for IT as the spreadsheet did for accounting. But, like the spreadsheet, the industry has to accept it first," he says.
Meanwhile, elateral is overcoming its own branding problems. Since April last year the company has grown its customer base by 75 per cent to include Cisco, Fuji Xerox, Sun Microsystems, Avaya (spun off from Lucent Technologies), Minolta-QMS and HP in the IT sector alone. The strategy has been quickly adopted by the automotive and financial industries, according to Gabella, and there is talk of a listing on the London Stock Exchange to nurture further growth.
Photograph: elateral's Gerard Gabella.