The marketing challenges for IT Value-Added Resellers

The landscape is changing for Value-Added Resellers (VARs) in the IT sector. In our two quick-read articles, we look at the difficulties this is creating for their marketing teams. Let’s jump right in with two key challenges for the IT VARs marketers.

Keeping up with the technology

It’s a given that technology is changing at breakneck speed. The rate of technological change across every area of life is accelerating, perhaps beyond the ability of businesses to cope. And the driver behind much of this change is within IT. So, although every sector has to cope with changes in technology, VARs in the IT industry are having to adapt even more quickly than most. Keeping up with the technology impacts a reseller’s marketing in particular, and places a burden on marketing teams.

The problem is that it’s not enough for the VAR marketers to have a passing familiarity with their products and services. They stand or fall on their deep understanding of what they’re selling. Clients are relying on the reseller’s expertise, and need to have confidence in them. In addition, buyers don’t just want to be offered the market leading product: they want options. Not unreasonably, they want evidence that the reseller has selected the right solution for their particular situation. Differentiating between various options requires marketers to understand both the underlying concepts and the solutions offered by each company. And that’s a tall order when products and services are changing  so quickly.

Learning and keeping up with the relevant technology, requires a massive investment of time. That’s something many resellers find is in short supply. This is especially true for small companies where marketing and sales staff may have to wear more than one hat. An hour learning about new products means an hour not meeting the needs of existing clients. It’s a juggling act that can be hard to pull off.

You can’t get the staff these days

For the customer, the value in Value Added Reseller is based on the reseller’s expert knowledge. Building this knowledge, as we pointed out, requires an investment of time.

The second big challenge for VAR marketing relates to where this expensive investment is stored. Obviously, it’s largely locked within the heads of individual sales and marketing staff. When they leave, that investment is lost and the reseller has to start all over again.

Of course, this problem isn’t peculiar to VARs, or even to the IT sector. But when so much of their offering is based purely on knowledge, it’s particularly acute.

When staff move on, the loss can be mitigated if the reseller recruits replacements with similar experience. In practice, however, that’s easier said than done. At last year’s CRN Channel conference, recruiting the right sales staff was identified as one of the biggest challenges for the related MSP industry.

Stay tuned for Part Two, where we’ll consider two more issues for marketing VARs.

CEC Marketing work extensively with IT Value Added Resellers. Backed by two decades of experience, we offer a full range of marketing services, including strategy and campaign planning, data services, email marketing, B2B telemarketing and lead generation. To discuss your needs further, please get in touch.