posted on March 14, 2011 |
As a VAR, you want to sell products, but you are constrained by territory. You need to sell more services. The life of a VAR ain’t easy. The good news is that you do own the customer relationships. And you can change the balance of power if you brand your company. How do you afford it?
Many years ago I worked for RAND Worldwide, a small VAR in the CAD business. Our leaders decided to brand the company rather than ride the branding coat-tails of the technology inventor. That strategy, along with the rapid rise in the CAD business overall, allowed RAND to build a $500M business in about 10 years.
Does that opportunity exist on a grand scale for a CAD VAR in 2011? Probably not. But it may exist in some of the other fast growing areas of engineering marketing, like 3D printing. New product markets are often as much about service as they are about the technology you install. In these cases, it’s possible to take a leadership role with your customer so that they are buying a package (consulting, installation, training and equipment) from you as a VAR rather than software or a device from your manufacturer.
The key to branding then is to create your own customer success stories that feature your company as the solution provider. These need to be placed in the appropriate media. You also have to undertake some branding campaigns in addition to the lead generation marketing you do now. It’s going to require a bigger marketing budget. But that spending can make the difference between being another small VAR and growing a meaningful large company.