One of the biggest challenges within many channel networks is ensuring the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) is being adequately marketed through the channel of VARs (Value Added Resellers). The VAR usually has a lot of products and brands being resold through their business, so unless it is crystal clear what the OEM’s marketing plans and branding expectations are, the OEM is likely just another name from a list of vendors. That is, unless the distributor takes action within their marketing approach to ensure they are making the biggest impact possible to drive sales and growth through their channel. One of the key components of doing so is successfully branding the OEM through the channel.
But how do you ensure the companies are co-branding successfully to drive growth? Here are 5 helpful co-branding tips for OEM’s.
1. Provide Clear Brand Standards & Expectations
It’s likely you have a brand standards guide created for your business (if not, we highly suggest creating one) that identifies how to use your logo, what colors and fonts are permitted, as well as any other branding detail you have available. Providing this guide to your VARs can be a great way to ensure they use your brand properly through their marketing and distribution network. If they are adding your logo to their website, how large can it be? How many pixels should it contain? We’ve probably all seen when a VAR puts another brand’s logo on a website and it’s distorted or stretched around in some way. Don’t be the brand that allows these types of activities to happen. Be clear in your branding expectations with any partnering business.
2. Focus on the Messaging
As mentioned, VARs typically won’t have the time to research how you want your product or service talked or written about, so you have to be sure you are providing that information to them. Whether that be specific wording about product details or special differentiators about your product, be clear with the messaging so they are also clear when they communicate that message to the end user. For example, perhaps providing a quick reference guide of the “Do’s and Don’ts When Talking to Customers About the [Insert OEM company name] Line of Products” could be a very helpful resource to a sales representative who needs to know what they can say as well as what they should avoid with regard to your specific brand or products. This can help to avoid your customer support team being inundated with comments like, “But our sales rep told us your services included this!” and other common (and frustrating) channel issues.
3. Create Complete Campaigns for the VAR
Sometimes things are just easier when you do them yourself, right? If you talk with most successful channel distributor companies, they’ll probably tell you the best way to effectively market your product or service within the channel is by providing everything to the VAR so they can quickly and easily market and sell your product to their customers. You can take things one step further by providing options like Marketing Direct Funding (MDF) programs so the VARs are encouraged to take advantage of additional tools and resources that may be available to make the marketing campaigns more successful. Just be sure these programs are easy to use and implement.
4. Monitor Branding & Marketing Efforts
After providing information like brand standards and specific messaging to VARs, it’s important to monitor that they’re actually utilizing the information. The channel can be a very noisy and busy place, so it’s possible they may have missed or ignored the marketing information and brand standards you’ve set. However, if you are diligent about following up to ensure these standards are being met, the network will eventually listen as to avoid continuous phone calls and emails from the OEM asking to make adjustments to the VARs website or marketing collateral.
5. Add Some Branding Extras
After a successful co-branding collaboration is set between the OEM and the VAR, there are many more opportunities available to enhance the visibility of your brand within that organization. One of the most successful ways of doing this is by providing additional branding materials (or “swag” as we like to call it) that are completely outside of the product or service you provide. Providing these branded extras can encourage the VAR to put your name front-and-center in some potentially unexpected ways. Perhaps providing pens, welcome mats, mouse pads, or other collateral with your brand name on it will encourage them to use these free items throughout their location, enhancing the presence of your business over the competition.
Branding is just one component of a successful channel marketing strategy. At ManoByte, we work with OEMs and VARs across the United States in developing marketing strategies that work to maximize channel relationships that are focused on mutual growth. Click below if you’d like to discuss how we can assist with your channel marketing efforts.