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Digital Marketing: Top 3 Areas of Focus; Success vs. Failure for Small to Mid-size Resellers in 2019

What are the greatest challenges small to mid-size technology resellers face in achieving success in digital marketing?  According to Michael Kelly, the executive director of the Channel Institute, and the results of Channel Institute’s July/August 2018 survey, these 3 challenges stood out repeatedly indicating success vs. failure:

  1. Data Management
  2. Vision and Capabilities
  3. Proving ROI


Data Management in Digital Marketing


The collection, management, and analysis of data are key for vendors in an effort to develop more meaningful relationships with their customers over a period-of-time.  This is the best way to gain insights into customers’ needs allowing vendors to personalize the product they deliver.


What’s more, the implementation of new data regulations set forth by GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) has decimated marketing lists creating a major challenge for resellers who leaned almost solely on email as their core digital tactic.  These new regulations have already presented a major struggle for large technology vendors, which indicates an even more difficult challenge for small vendors, who already lack resources (such as manpower, capital, technology) of their larger counterparts.


The lack of experience and expertise with sophisticated data management coupled with the new regulations makes for a difficult road ahead leaving outsourcing this function the only choice if smaller resellers do not get on board with modern digital marketing.


Vision and Capabilities


Accordingly, in the second most common challenge:  Vision and Capabilities, the respondents of the Channel Institute’s survey predict resellers who have continually relied on activities such as local events and mailers as the main component to their marketing strategy will also be left behind.  The rationale is that many VARs are viewed as lifestyle businesses that don’t seem to have the vision to take the steps toward the digital marketing age.  As a result, these businesses will inevitably disappear.


So, who will gain longevity?  In a nutshell, they are the ones who understand digital challenges including overcoming ad blockers, switching to video as a key marketing tool, understanding the importance of “voice search.”  The vision toward modern marketing starts at the top with leadership and the allocation of resources.  With a variety of new partners on the market’s horizon, such as a new brand of ISVs (Independent Software Vendors), resellers will have to embrace modern marketing techniques to achieve greater fluency in digital marketing. All these in a quest for greater opportunities in 2019 and into the future.


Proving ROI in Digital Marketing


As we think about the future in marketing, we can’t forget about funding which brings us to the third-rated most common challenge:  Proving ROI.  To keep investing, resellers need to be able to trace ROI back to digital investments.  To be able to track sales back to the original digital investment, resellers need the right systems in place such as analytics, tracking, CRM, etc.


It’s not that proof of ROI is any more important today than it’s ever been. It’s having more accurate proof-of-performance numbers.  Resellers must invest in the skillsets and the technologies to capture, analyze, and present data in a meaningful way to remain competitive.  Not only will resellers need to have access to the tools to achieve this, but they will also need to ensure that their staff is fully trained.


All in all, the common denominator for all 3 of these digital technology challenges is the same:  those who can’t keep up with this ever-changing digital world will be relegated to the bottom of the technological food chain while vendors who increasingly become more agile and sophisticated partners with respect to modern digital marketing will have a competitive advantage.


-Joe Pannone, March 10, 2019


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