More and more dealers are turning to their OEM partners to help fund their digital strategy. It’s a great way to help get your project off the ground.
08 November 2017 | NORM MCCONKEY
One of the hidden benefits of having a great OEM partner is that you often accrue rebates, co-op marketing dollars, and market development funds (MDF) as part of your authorization that can be used to pay for initiatives to promote their products. In many cases, those funds don’t just accumulate and “roll over” year after year. You either use them or lose them. So why not use those vendor dollars to build an e-commerce website and inbound marketing program that helps promote OEM hardware, supplies, software, and services?
Over the past six months, we have successfully helped dealers recoup some costs to build and maintain a website by using their accrued marketing dollars. HP, Lexmark, and Xerox have all helped fund these projects. In most cases, they are eager to help dealers rebuild their websites and help promote their OEM brands online.
Your website is the single biggest marketing asset you own. OEMs want to help you leverage that asset, and get some online brand recognition for themselves at the same time. In most cases, you are already doing this anyway. Most dealerships understand that adding authorizations from tier 1 vendors on their website helps legitimize the company to customers and prospects. Your dealership has a local presence. An OEM like HP or Xerox has instant brand recognition. HP is #42 on the Forbes list of most recognized brands. Xerox is a household name in North America. Leveraging those brands on your site and in your SEO will help drive traffic to your website.
The benefits to most dealers are clear: e-commerce and digital workflow. Your website should be the primary means to interact between you and your customers. This is where dealers get bogged down with e-commerce. There is a resistance to accept that customers need this interaction. Reordering supplies, purchasing sub $2000 printers, laptops, and other items do not require interaction. Xerox, Lexmark, and especially HP have many products that need to be acquired online. Hence the support for e-commerce initiatives.
What OEMs Like to See:
A Focus on Small Businesses (SMB)
OEMs have a blind spot: small business. They are confident with large accounts, and even small office/home offices (SOHO), where their brand plays well, but they recognize that the SMB is hard to access. They need you to do this, and online is where they buy.
Their Products Displayed First
This should not be a problem. Most of our customers have multiple OEM vendors, and they know the categories they want to be first in. HP is very concerned about the A4 printer and MFP space.
Upsell Products and Services
When devices are sold below the $2000 threshold, it’s a good bet that vendors are not making much profit on the hardware. Selling additional functionality or a service pack is important to them. Studies show that this upsell/cross-sell is much more effective online than via your sales team.
Supplies SKUs Appear for Their Products
OEMs expect that you lead sales with their supply SKUs. While they all welcome competition, their brands are usually 80-90% of the sales. If you show them that they can search for their printers and immediately find supplies and parts, they know this will lead to increased sales.
What Else Have You Got?
In the case of HP, they (and you!) have so much more than printing to sell to SMB. Laptops, monitors, digital signage and display, and cloud storage are all products they want to sell to the SMBs..
It should be noted that neither the channel nor customers are ready to buy larger devices that require customization and software online…yet! No, the OEMs want to get their entry-level and mid-tier products out to market, and dealers are the conduit. Your website is the way.
About the Author
Norm McConkey has been involved in the print, imaging, and software/tech business since 1993. Holding executive level positions in a number of emerging technology firms, he founded PrintFleet in 2003, and Tangent MTW in 2009. A founding member of the MPSA, an award winning author and presenter, Norm has spoken at various industry events around the world including the Lyra Imaging Symposium, Photizo confernece, ITEX Tradeshow, Regional BTA conferences, Remax Europe, and World Expo. He has been contracted to consult and build go to market and sales training programs with several OEM manufacturers such as Canon USA, and HP, and distributors such as Parts Now and Supplies Network, as well Resellers including Office Depot. Norm’s current project, MPSToolbox (www.mpstoolbox.com), is a software platform which helps technology dealers develop and maintain e-commerce websites.