Be it a bad market or be it the competition; be it rain or be it shine, schemes have rarely failed to make channels dream. Tech Pacific has its Inner circle of 100 partners who are given special privileges, while Ingram Micro formed its IM-Pro Club at its channel conference at Sun City, South Africa recently. There are already 100 members in this club who will receive special attention from Ingram Micro to maximize revenues.
All the big distributors have their own schemes and promotional strategies, though the bulk of their revenue continues to come from direct bulk sales to their major customers. However, their schemes do not exactly impact their bottom lines. Nevertheless, they seem to realize the importance of keeping the small players happy; hence the schemes.
Vendors run schemes as well. For instance, channel partners sold over 10,000 of its home PCs, thanks to ‘Home Utsavs’, a scheme which Wipro conducted jointly with its partners. Twenty cities were covered with over 40 ‘Utsavs’ leading to a sale of seven to eight thousand PCs. These ‘Utsavs’ were held at weekends with spot offers and ready finance for end-users.
Wipro’s annual channel conference is a major event where the top management mingles with partners to get the latest grassroot-level feedback. One such event was held in Agra last year. Besides, Wipro also shared its business and product roadmap with partners through two of its biannual sessions called ‘PC Academy’.
Wipro also held several technology seminars for users during the year. These seminars did not dwell on products but purely on technologies and their impact. For instance, one was held on “Effect of the Internet on the economy”.
Datapro Infoworld Ltd is another company, which understands the power of promotions. The Pune-based distributor’s promotional schemes may be classified into five broad categories. There were target based rebate programs for its channel partners throughout the year for almost all lines of business. Then there was a channel executive incentive program where incentive programs were run for the executives of its channel partners.
Datapro and its vendors conducted a series of training programs in every region to upgrade skill sets of channel partners. Since products from Packeteer, Citrix, as well as Nortel incorporated new technologies, training programs were organized. It also resorted to joint mailing campaigns that helped get a lot of leads for channel partners. There was joint participation in road shows as well as exhibitions as part of brand building exercises.
Besides all these programs, Datapro also had a special millennium program for channels to qualify for the Top 100 Club. Partners who qualified were called for a free three-day special meet at Hotel Cidade De Goa.
Mumbai-based distributor Savex, worked with channels to hold technical seminars to ‘push’ Samsung’s high-end monitors. The distributor has also been educating the channel on the benefits of Samsung HDDs, so as to break the ‘Seagate mindset’.
Compuage, another Mumbai-based distributor is not far behind in the promotions game. When Compuage targeted AMP (now Tyco) products at corporates, training programs for certification were undertaken simultaneously.
During November, December and January, it organized an "Explore Europe" scheme. ‘Monsoon bonanza’ schemes were on offer for APC products during March, April and May. Besides these, there was also a ‘Business Leadership Program’ at Bangkok for Compuage’s top 100 channel partners.
Road shows are effective to promote brands and nobody seems to know this better than Delhi-based distributor Aditya. In an effort to promote the Aditya brand name, road shows were held at important reseller locations like Nehru Place and Lamington Road in Mumbai. Advertisements were released in the print media to build up the brand.
For the first time, Aditya took its annual partner event ‘Interface 2000’ outside Delhi to the cool hills of Mussoorie. This year Aditya is planning to hold Interface 2001 in Malaysia, to ensure that its partners remain loyal to it and maximize business.
Besides these efforts, the quarterly Aditya newsletter was sent to every partner to increase mutual interaction. The newsletter also carried the latest news on Aditya’s tie-ups and new products to the channel. Media reactions about Aditya were highlighted to ensure brand recall among channel partners.
HCL’s strategy to touch the 150,000 PC mark also banks on promotions. It plans to do this by holding computer carnivals. Such carnivals were held in about 25 locations spread across the country. They have now become an annual event.
Vendors like Sonata Software have resorted to bundling products to make them more attractive to partners. To boost sales, Sonata worked out its own as well as vendor-driver target-based incentive schemes for the channel. Training programs were extensively conducted to keep the partners updated on latest technologies and products. Similarly, Wellwin, which has aimed for revenues worth Rs 70 crore, plans to build up a loyal channel network with a new program called, ‘Winning Edge Partner’.
In 1999-2000, Minicomp decided to give away a Maruti 800 car to their best selling dealer. This year around, Minicomp has upped the stakes and the best-performing channel partner could become a proud owner of a Honda City. There are other prices too, like a Maruti 800 car for the partner who comes in second and other goodies thrown in for the runner-ups.
Recently, Rashi Peripherals participated in Logitech’s Genuine Logitech Dealer program, which helped bring down the sales of fake Logitech mice from 75 percent to 50 percent. Rashi has decided that the best way to boost sales was to go straight to the customers’ doorstep.
To further this endeavor, they started organizing monthly road shows throughout the country in 1999. Besides the metros, the road shows were taken to over 80 cities, including mofussil areas. The road shows were often held in conjunction with the principals and special promotions for that period. The exercise has paid off and it has had a positive effect on the overall sales.
Rashi also participates in exhibitions and seminars extensively. This year it plans to make its presence felt at ‘IT Comdex’ to be held in December and another event which is being planned by the Manufacturers’ Association of Information Technology.
There is also the ongoing Authorized Rashi Partner program, which has been extended to all their partners who wish to avail of it. Those who achieve targets get a chance to go to Singapore and other exotic places around the world. Rashi is also working on the blueprint of two other schemes, which will be launched after two months.