Distributors: Flexible Marketing Plans, Video Content Key to Hooking End Users

Vendors need to move beyond market development funds (MDF) and team up with distributors around video and webinars to more effectively lure solution providers and customers, a group of distributors said Monday at an industry conference.  

Vendors too often use MDF to move surplus inventory rather than as a way to align distributors and resellers with broader trends in the marketplace, Crash Lowe of Springfield, Mass.-based specialty distributor Waterdog Technologies, told attendees during a panel presentation at CompTIA ChannelCon 2016 in Hollywood, Fla.   

Month-to-month changes in what products are eligible for MDF also make it difficult for distributors to engage in long-term strategic planning. Instead, Lowe would like to see vendors work in tandem with distributors to generate marketing plans that align with requests from solution providers, such as the desire to bundle multiple products into a single offering that can be delivered as a service.

Lone Tree, Colo.-based cloud distributor Pax8 has focused on taking vendor content and putting it into bite-size, digestible videos of two minutes or less, said Ryan Walsh, senior vice president of partner relations. The videos are made available to Pax8 partners in a digital library, Walsh said, and cover both onboarding and "how to" issues.

"The video has got to be short," Walsh said.

Case studies are also critical in helping solution providers understand real, tangible ways that distributors can help them solve problems, Walsh said. Pax8 also produces webinars on common problems and obstacles, Walsh said, and has many vendors that are committed to working with the distributor around on-demand marketing.

"Vendors can take advantage of the Pax8 relationship and put content into that channel," Walsh said. "It's very effective."

Similarly, Lowe urged vendors to move away from emphasizing speeds and feeds when introducing a new product or component.

"Bring to us the 'why' if you're introducing something new," Lowe said. "We can translate that down to the MSPs."  

The top executives at many MSPs or small solution providers often come from a technical background and are not great at marketing, Lowe said. Therefore, distributors can help streamline their sales processes by pre-packing the marketing materials, meaning the partner only has to add its company logo in and make a couple tweaks to maximize its relevance to the particular customer base, Lowe said.