Maintaining Brand Relevancy While Utilizing Resellers
December 11, 2012
Regardless of industry, companies have been driven by innovation, and are always looking to come up with the next greatest product or service offering. However, you need to realize that innovation isn’t limited to your products and services either – you must be on the cutting edge of new business operation practices as well.
For example, ZS Associates asserts that the high-tech industry is changing. Rather than selling specific products, they are selling subscription-based solutions. This is a significant shift in the way they operate and many are facing challenges they’ve never encountered before. They can no longer focus solely on how they market their products, as they also need to think about how they develop and design these solutions.
Selling cloud-based services brings a number of different obstacles to the forefront for tech companies, most notably for the role of vendors and resellers. These resellers are the ones engaging with customers now, and that means many manufacturers may be jeopardizing the relevancy of their brand by leaving it in the hands of these business partners.
“In terms of marketing, customers are more likely to be engaged through a service provider than with a manufacturer or a reseller, which raises two challenges: The first is how to engage the service provider and embed an offering as part of its value proposition,” explains Ashish Vazirani, principal associate at ZS Associates. “The second is making sure the service provider delivers the value proposition in a way that differentiates the manufacturer’s brand.”
Closing the Loop and Aligning Sales and Marketing
Brand management is obviously a critical concern to any company. You spend thousands – or in some cases, even millions – of dollars to develop and establish your organization’s brand. Leaving your reputation in the hands of a third-party vendor or reseller would be a cause of concern for any business.
The problem with the business-to-business-to-customer (B2B2C) model is the lack of communication throughout the chain. On the one end is the original manufacturer and on the other is the customer. Between them lies the distributors and resellers. Many times, clients are familiar with the reseller and distributor, but not the brand itself. Similarly, the manufacturer thinks it knows its customers, but most of that data is retained by the distributors and resellers.
So, what options do you have? One step that many companies have taken is the adoption of a closed-loop strategy. This creates an open supply chain, with none of the relevant information ever circling back to the parties that could benefit from it. For example, the retailer will know which customers are buying the brands’ solutions but don’t communicate with the company because they deal specifically with the distributor. This can also lead to situations where, because retailers don’t interact directly with the original manufacturer, they accidentally misrepresent the brand.
Businesses can improve communication throughout their supply chains by implementing a closed-loop strategy. By doing this, brands are able to align all of the different components of their supply chains, from their company to consumers. The key is aligning the interests of everyone involved, thereby improving value downstream as well.
Distributed marketing automation platforms (DMAP) and other such solutions can help brands implement this system throughout all of their strategic partners. DMAP adds a substantial amount of value to the mix for everyone involved. Vendors and resellers can quickly create relevant marketing collateral in a matter of clicks, which makes it easier to sell the manufacturer’s products and services. On the other end of the table, the original manufacturer maintains control of their brand and also learns more about their audience.