From The Editor | April 28, 2009

Is Your Marketing Plan In A Recession?

Written by: Jay McCall

Given the current state of the economy and its negative impact on your business, I’d like to cut to the chase and probe into one area of your business: your marketing strategy. While attending a value-added distributor (VAD) partner conference recently, I learned that more than 75% of small and medium VARs have no marketing plans. At first I was surprised by the statistic, but the more I thought about it, the stat was in line with the typical response I’ve gotten from VARs over the years about how they market themselves. “Word of mouth,” is what most VARs tell me.

If you’re like most VARs, within the past six months you’ve probably started putting your business processes under a microscope and reduced or eliminated activities that don’t produce an immediate payback. Company-sponsored picnics? Canceled. Early dismissal days when the sales team meets its monthly goals? Postponed. (Salespeople never accept “No” for an answer, so you can’t officially cancel this practice.) After all your processes are tightened up, what’s the status of your marketing plan? If it’s going the way of the company picnic, you’d better think again.

According to John Black, president of Catalyst Telecom, “If you don’t have a consistent marketing message, your prospects may doubt the stability of your business.” At a recent conference, Black challenged VARs to take marketing more seriously. He also offered VARs several tips on how to get started marketing, including creating a PowerPoint presentation that everyone in your organization refers to when interfacing with prospects, taking advantage of vendor/VAD marketing services, and/or hiring a consultant to help develop your marketing plan. Check out Black’s timely message at

If previous marketing activities produced only dismal results, consider Technology Marketing Toolkit, Inc. ( President Robin Robins’ advice: “There are two elements to effective marketing — the medium [e.g. e-mail, trade publications] and the message.” According to Robins, poor marketing results often stem from marketing messages that are boring, off target, and lacking compelling offers, testimonials, headlines, and other critical elements required to get results.

Need more convincing? Check out this VAR's story. Advanced Microcomputing Concepts (AMC) was experiencing double-digit growth selling communications solutions to the real estate vertical market — until the market dried up. Through the VAR’s quick thinking and marketing initiatives, it was able to branch out into other vertical markets. Even though the real estate market is now in a slump, AMC’s business isn’t. Yours doesn’t have to be, either.