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VARs Get Marketing Boost from Big Brother
By John Hazard


What good is it when you are the only one who knows that your solution is the best out there?

Or, as for Allfinanz of F.M. Systems Ltd., a Dublin, Ireland-based ISV serving the insurance industry, the question can be, what good is it if we’re the only ones who know we exist?

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After several years away from the U.S. market, the company sought to return this year and had to rebuild its market presence from scratch, said Mike Scunziano, the company’s vice president of North American alliances.

Scunziano initiated a marketing and advertising campaign that he hoped to string along on $40,000 in quarter-page ads in a handful of trade magazines, but through an alliance with IBM’s PartnerWorld, he was able to turn a piecemeal operation into a powerful, targeted campaign.

For the same price, Allfinanz used the program to leverage full-page ads in five insurance industry magazines, two direct mailings and a telemarketing program, all of which grabbed the company 14 prospects in less than six months.

“The return on investment was a no-brainer,” Scunziano said. “We went from a limited reach and a big investment of time and resources to hitting our audience big-time at the right moment.”

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The program, part of IBM’s PartnerWorld Industry Networks, marketing and sales resources for ISVs and VARs, gives participants to access to discounted advertising in 160 technology publications and industry-specific magazines, plus use of IBM’s creative and design resources, discounts on direct mailings and access to the Suffern, N.Y. company’s telemarketing network.

The program has been available to PartnerWorld’s ISV members since 2004, but will become available to VARs in October, IBM said. To qualify, participating members must have Advance partner status.

Hewlett-Packard Co. offers its resellers Campaign Central, a similar program run through its PartnerOne initiative. Partners have access to discounted market research and mailing lists and the use of HP’s creative team to help develop direct mail and direct e-mail campaigns.

HP offers its program as a sales incentive, said Glenn Rossman, a company spokesperson, providing partners funding credits to use toward the marketing campaigns based on their sales of HP hardware and service.

PointerClick here to read more about IBM’s training and funding offers for VARs.

For IBM, promoting its resellers is a natural progression of the company’s departure from application development, said Aimee Munsell, director of the PartnerWorld industry network.

eWEEK.com Special Report: IBM's Evolution

“The way we see it, these are our applications out there. We go to market through our vendors,” she said. “The more successful they are, the more successful we are and the more satisfied our customers are.”

Through its influence and buying power, IBM has negotiated discounts, up to 60 percent, in 160 technology- and industry-specific publications, including Bank Technology News, Scholastic Administrator Magazine and Workforce Performance Solutions, and the list of titles is expected to grow, Munsell said.

Another ISV, biotechnology solution provider Vertical*I, was able to purchase $7,000 in advertising in Bio-IT World for less than $3,000.

Even more significant, Scunziano said, is the creative support the program provides. “The advertising buy is only a small part of the cost for businesses like ours,” he said. “We’re a small operation. We don’t have designers and marketing people on staff. This was all work that would have been farmed out. With IBM’s staff doing a lot of that work for us, we got more spending power for the advertising buy.”

For HP resellers, the company’s creative services allow a speedy return, Rossman said.

“Something that would have taken them days to do on their own can be turned around in under an hour,” he said. “It allows them to get it out there and get a return quicker and better than they could on their own.”

     
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