Channel Call

Marketing in a Cloudy 2011

With 2011 right around the corner, many resellers are in the midst of planning for next year. The coming year brings some novel challenges for resellers.

In particular, the onslaught of cloud computing as the next big wave is creating anxiety among resellers about how to effectively leverage a trend that's showing increasingly stubborn signs of not going away anytime soon.

Below are three key thoughts you should adhere to as you develop your plans for 2011, with particular emphasis on cloud computing.

1. Relax. I coach a girls' travel soccer team. Because the pace of the game is a lot faster than what they're accustomed to, some girls are adjusting beautifully while others are struggling. At practice, I noticed one of the girls would panic every time the ball came her way. Flustered, she'd either kick the ball the wrong direction or miss it entirely.

I told her that the next time the ball came to her, she should take a moment and relax before kicking the ball. Mind you, the "moment" was all but a few seconds, but the adjustment transformed her performance. She connected magnificently and made the perfect pass to one of her teammates.

The point here is that too often resellers rush and make a decision too quickly when it comes to their strategy or vendor selection. Take a deep breath and really understand where you want to go and how you want to get there. Then -- and only then -- will you have the clarity to make good decisions about your future.

2. Go Hybrid. Let's assume you have a roadmap. One of the items on this roadmap should be "expansion of your current portfolio." Along with this expansion, you should be looking at cloud-based initiatives to leverage. Many of you have written me, asking me to clarify my thoughts on the notion of expanding your portfolios. There are two schools of thought on this, and I believe you need to create a hybrid approach using both.

The first school of thought is to look to the big vendors and align to their cloud initiatives. Most of you are Microsoft partners -- therefore it's in your best interest to jump in and take advantage of everything Microsoft is offering, because Microsoft has market share and will continually invest in making the market aware of its cloud offerings.

The other school of thought is that you should pick alternative vendors who have cloud applications that may fit gaps in your portfolio. Why would I suggest an alternative vendor? Here are my reasons: Typically you can make more money because the margins are better; alternative vendors are sometimes more eager to work with you, therefore they'll tend to give you more attention; and alternative vendors can often react and shift strategies more easily than bigger vendors. This is important as you discover needs in the marketplace; an alternative vendor can perhaps deliver on those needs quicker.

Employ relationships with both types of vendors and you will create diversification within your portfolio.

3. Include Execution in Your Plan. Write a marketing "execution" plan. The rubber meets the road in developing leads that will turn into opportunities as it all relates to your vendor relationships. Therefore, don't just write a marketing plan that outlines suggested tactics. Write a marketing execution plan that suggests the tactics but puts timeframes and deliverables around them.

For instance, there's a firm I know in the cloud world called Marketing Advocate. Its solution is geared to allow resellers to have a complete marketing system at their fingertips: SEO, telemarketing, e-mail campaigns, ROI analysis and so on. It's all in one system, and to top it off, it's a Software as a Service model of delivery, making it really simple to execute.

There's a big difference between saying you're going to do something and actually doing it. If you put pressure on yourself to get certain marketing activities done, you'll inevitably find a way to get them done.

Next Time: Implementing Your Plans

About the Author

Keith Lubner is Chief Business Strategist at Sales Gravy, the sales acceleration company, and managing partner of C3 Channel, a global consulting organization focused on channel strategy, design, enablement, outsourcing and training for growing companies. For more information about Keith, visit www.c3channel.com, www.channeleq.co or www.salesgravy.com.

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