By Bill Lodes, TSYS
A VAR’s survival and success depend solely on the number of users that they attract and acquire. The challenge for the VAR, as with many other businesses today, is the most effective approach to user acquisition. To date, methods of approach have typically consisted of ads and other copy in industry trade magazines, direct marketing and Website utilization. Insert industry and vertical-specific trade show participation into the mix, and you have a traditional VAR strategy for sharing solutions with potential users.
Yet today’s approach has become anything but conventional. The explosion of social media has opened immeasurable new user acquisition opportunities for VARs that could only be dreamed of in the past.
Social media has done today what the Internet did for the generation of the 90s when it was first adopted — it’s just that significant. Nearly everything we do is done through social media. Whether it’s starting a new relationship or making a personal or professional buying decision, social media has become second nature in our day-to-day functions.
Many of us begin our daily routine with a cup of coffee and an informative sweep through our Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter account, staying on top of the hottest trends, networking and building relationships. We get our daily dose of “water cooler” gossip. We kickstart the morning with a good chuckle, keep a finger on the pulse of the world and weigh in on topics from politics to pop culture. Our most trusted source, social media has trained us to check on everything from world news to a friend’s big announcement. Day-in and dayout, our culture is shaped by and orchestrated through social media.
And it’s not limited to a certain generation either; our society has collectively embraced a social media lifestyle. Businesses are taking notice too, and have identified with the shift from effective advertisements to peer-to-peer affirmation.
Through social media, VARs are able to not only reach new potential users, but they are now also able to promote the success of their POS solutions outside their Websites. That shift from traditional advertisements to social media marketing is providing an enhanced experience compared with the advertisements of old.
Today’s social media marketing has enabled something far more powerful in the buying decision: peer-to-peer affirmation. Satisfied customers are now able to share their experiences using the POS solutions that they’ve purchased for their businesses, and, in turn, have influenced buying decisions through that feedback — before money is spent on an unfamiliar and potentially ill-fitting product. A potential end-user can now learn more through informative consumer reviews, testimonials and even Webcasts.
VARs are aware of this and have joined the revolution. Utilizing social media to keep the community informed on new updates, releases, announcements or sales opportunities is a fresh marketing approach for VARs. Positioning a product demo on YouTube, for example, offers users visibility before purchase, and can serve as a training vehicle once the solution is in place. Maximizing potential is critical, and the results are proving to be substantial.
Speaking from our own experience, in 2014, we chose to intensify TSYS’ overall presence by introducing social media into our VAR marketing strategy. The efforts have been rewarding so far, with a 200-percent increase in partner engagement over 2013.
Social media hasn’t just arrived; it’s been with us for quite some time. What has emerged is its new group of users — the VAR community — and the opportunities are endless.
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