A Channel Partner’s Role in Brand Building
Can a dealer or integrator play a significant role in building the brand of a manufacturer? Think about it. Brand building is a function of products, people, services, support and customers. Channel partners are a huge part of the brand. Each aspect of brand is related and each must be aligned accordingly to create maximum brand impact. The total brand experience is a delicate organism that requires deep analysis and constant revision.
There are hundreds of vendor companies in the security space. If you walked the recent ASIS Int’l show you may have thought that most every company has similar products. So how, then, can you distinguish those your company resells?
Let’s begin with a brief discussion of PowerZones; that is, what are the two or three compelling reasons to buy from your company? Products, people and especially channel partners can be PowerZones. Brand-building and recognition are directly related to the alignment of your PowerZones. If a company makes great low-light cameras or outstanding monitors, then these are their key brand building-blocks and they must consider every aspect of their strategy in terms of maximizing those differentiating strengths.
How do these products or services reach the end-users? Channel partners play a key role in supporting a brand directly in front of customers — whether it is distributors selling to dealers, or dealers selling to users. Resellers are in fact an extension of manufacturers’ products and therefore directly associated with the product itself. If a manufacturer’s main PowerZone is VMS software, then it must carefully select a group of resellers that has as its PowerZones: knowledgeable salespeople, adequate facilities for demonstrations, excellent access to key customers, and the capability to be a manufacturer’s partner in the marketplace. These are all critical elements that affect brand image.
It is the brand experience that leads to brand dominance. The channel partner can make or break a brand by directly affecting the customer’s experience. You should consider that you sell products because they solve a customer’s problem or enhance their lives. There is no other reason to buy anything.
Dealers and integrators are acutely tuned into their customers’ problems. End users trust their dealers to have their best interests at heart. The profit from your sale is your reward for solving a customer’s problem. Resellers that sell brands as “solutions” are reliable and profitable. Generally speaking, if a manufacturer has excellent resellers, then it also has satisfied end users. Dealers and resellers have enormous influence in the brand-selection process and therefore are critical and essential in building a brand’s reputation.
Our own industry has spawned numerous and highly sophisticated analytics and image-processing solutions. Can we expect the customer to reach buying confidence from a poorly prepared reseller?
It’s becoming increasingly clear that resellers of analog video surveillance solutions will struggle if they are not properly prepared and equipped to sell networked solutions. Careful analysis of your business strategy to compete in the networked system market will yield a clear roadmap and action plan. Consider:
• Do you share with your suppliers common values on customer support?
• Do your suppliers provide adequate technical resources for your support teams?
• Do you know your suppliers’ brand strategy and, most importantly, do you clearly understand how to apply it during the sales process?
• What are the benefits to you and your customers if the brand experience is consistently high?
• Are the working members of both teams focused in the same direction?
Frequently, brand strategies are developed towards building end-user confidence, but may never be launched at the field level. This is the most critical portion of the brand strategy’s implementation that resellers need to be aware of so they too can capitalize on the brand equity of their suppliers. If you are unclear about the vision of your vendors’ brand strategy, it would be worthwhile to start a conversation about it, so you can begin to build a partnership for your mutual success.