For many technology resellers, their strengths lie in the technical aspects of their products. But for all of their expertise in developing solutions for customers and providing insight into how to best use those solutions, there is one aspect of the business that tends to present more challenges than others: sales and marketing.
Today’s consumers, whether a small business looking to build a network from the ground up or a multimillion dollar corporation that wants to add a new array of solutions to their existing network, are comfortable using the internet to find the products and services that they need. Most prefer to conduct their own research into Cisco resellers before they reach out, and will choose providers based on the information that they find online. What this means for channel partners is that digital marketing needs to be a priority, as the image you convey and the information you provide via digital channels can make the difference between the phone ringing and you scrambling to locate new leads via other methods.
The need for channel partners to leverage digital marketing is not a new concept, either. As far back as 2010, Cisco was encouraging partners to use digital channels to attract and engage customers. At that year’s Cisco Partner Velocity conference in Barcelona, for example, attendees spent less time learning about new products and innovations, and more time on gaining skills in using mobile marketing, social media, video marketing, cloud marketing, and customer engagement and relationship building. Seven years later, not much has changed – except for the fact that digital marketing has become even more important to growing a successful reseller enterprise.
Go Digital, or Be Left Behind
It almost seems ironic that B2B technology firms are among the last to embrace digital marketing. Yet a significant number are still doing things the old way – and unfortunately, that means that most will be left behind.
One example that’s often used to illustrate the importance of embracing digital marketing is the phenomenal success of Uber. The typical business model for a taxi service was completely turned on its ear by the app. Hailing a yellow cab, in some areas, is now a last resort. However, many taxi companies didn’t really see Uber as a threat at first, and continued with business as usual – a decision that has left most scrambling for business and looking for ways to compete with Uber and other similar apps.
Channel partners who don’t embrace digital marketing are likely to end up like taxi services, clinging to an outdated business model that isn’t meeting customers where they are. However, there are other important reasons that digital marketing is so vital to a business’s success.
- Digital marketing is proven to increase revenues. According to Google research, companies that use digital marketing techniques can expect 2.8 times the revenue growth, and are 3.3 times more likely to grow their businesses.
- Digital marketing is more cost effective. The cost-per-lead for social media, SEO, email marketing, and blogging is significantly lower than that for traditional avenues including trade shows, traditional advertising, and telemarketing.
- Digital marketing caters to mobile consumers. Nearly all adults (91 percent) always have their mobile devices within reach, meaning that your marketing can reach them quickly and where they are.
- Digital marketing can be more effectively targeted. Using digital techniques such as social media and blogging, channel partners can engage with their target audiences and learn more about what they want – and give it to them. These techniques also allow for more engagement with customers, building relationships that form the foundation of the business.
- Digital marketing allows for better local targeting. Research indicates that a majority of mobile searches are locally based – and that local searches are more likely to result in visits to a business and offline purchases. In particular when it comes to technology purchases, business want to work with local companies, so targeting your digital marketing to those individuals in your local area can make a significant difference to your overall sales efforts.
Digital marketing is not a new concept, but it’s one that channel partners have yet to fully embrace. Even if you aren’t fully comfortable with developing these strategies and using digital marketing platforms, there are plenty of resources available to help. Now is the time to get started, or you risk being left behind.