Getting the Message Out Over TimeBy Dave Sobel | Print
Crafting the right message for your solution provider business is critical to success. Find a way to align that message to a vendor's and you've become even more effective.
Messaging is an incredibly important consideration when going into the market. As a solution provider, we don’t have the budget to have massive "branding" efforts, so for us, every small decision is a big one. The little touches are the best ways we can present our message into the market.
That means choosing the right messaging to use from our vendors is incredibly important. Aligning with the right messaging means that we can extend our story significantly. Aligning with the wrong messaging means that we can confuse our customers and prospects and distract from our existing message. Those distractions can be costly when your voice is small. Additionally, because our budget is smaller, our message works best when built upon over long periods of time with consistency. We work to link every campaign we do back to the larger message.
Our vendor partners, on the other hand, often times have very large budgets and manage multiple campaigns with multiple messages at the same time. Microsoft is a great example. As a company, they are doing messaging about Microsoft, about their consumer products, about their business products, and messages to their partners, among many others. They can "try out" different campaigns, and see what works and what doesn’t.
When a vendor’s messaging and our messaging align, we can leverage that to extend our reach. When our message and a vendor’s align, their ability to provide air coverage and our ability to interface one on one become a perfect message. Vendors that do this consistently strengthen the relationship.
One of the best campaigns Microsoft ever offered was their "We’ve Gotta Guy" campaign. In the interest of disclosure, our firm was highlighted in this campaign.
The premise is this – don’t trust your IT business systems to just any "guy" you know. IT professionals are there for a reason. The campaign included a number of cute videos about real life situations where you wouldn’t get just "some guy" to help you, such as haircuts, the dentist, or your wedding. The campaign asked "So why would you trust your critical computer systems to your uncle or nephew or kid down the street?"
This is a message we talk about all the time with customers, and one we believe in. And having Microsoft saying it, right there next to us, is a home run. (It doesn’t hurt that the message is correct!)
So we use this message in a number of our own pieces, and link and cross link to the promotion. It’s good for everyone. The danger of this is if your partner has multiple messages, and if they conflict. Microsoft, as a great partner, knows that 95% of its revenues come via its partner channel, and as a result they create a close alignment of messaging. (Again, it doesn’t hurt when the truth is simple and easy to say!). It’s a lesson vendors should take comfort in, and understand the insight into how solution providers message themselves. Our message needs to be tight, consistent, and last a lifetime. Simple, truthful messages speak volumes, and ones said consistently over time work.