When 4 “Ps” are not enough – part 2

In my previous post I wrote about the limitation of the traditional textbook “4Ps” approach to building marketing mixes in particular in the field I’m the most familiar with: the B2B high-tech one.

The other Ps one can find in the literature, for most of them, I believe don’t really apply in this market. (see this same previous post on these other Ps).

So, what’s needed then?

In my experience, I found that 2 more “Ps” were needed: Partners and Projects. Let me elaborate a bit on these.

Most B2B high-tech solutions seldom works in a vacuum. A solution offer by a company almost always requires third-parties companies to step in and complete the solution. Therefore, unless your company is in the business of providing these additional functionalities or the integration or customization needed (think “IBM” or “HP” for instance, although those still use numerous partners), you must enroll one or several partners to make a sale happen and satisfy a customer need.

Examples of the need for such ecosystem are plentiful so let me just give a few examples…

  • A “box” vendor will need companies to install and integrate the box into a broader system:
    • A router to an network infrastructure
    • An MPEG2 encoder to a satellite broadcasting system
  • A software vendor will need partners to integrate the software
    • A system integrator to integrate a CRM system into an existing backend
    • An embedded device OS vendor to port the OS on a specific hardware
  • A system vendor will need third-parties to complement their solution
    • A media-server software vendor for a digital signage solution vendor
    • A storage solution vendor for a hosting solution provider

As you can see the examples are endless. However there are a few key dimension one can think of while thinking through this mix:

  1. What is the type of ecosystem engagement and structure needed?
    • Depth: a few key partners?
    • Breadth: a large ecosystem, for instance located close to the end-customer across the globe?
    • Tiered: a limited set of key partners and a much larger set of breadth ones (such as the tiered Microsoft Partner Network, formerly known as Microsoft Partner Program)
  2. When will partner impact our product sales cycle:
    • Before the sale: need to offer this 3rd party solution as part of our total solution (and quote to customer)
    • With the sale: the customer will simultaneously purchase our solution and products from one or more partners
    • After the sale: one the customer has initiated the purchase, he will use this partner’s products or services to install, integrate, support or expand our solution
    • All of the above?
  3. Do we need one type of partners or are they various categories of partners?
    • Software vendors, hardware vendors, system integrators, trainers…
    • Small, medium or large companies?
    • multinationals, regional players or small local players?
  4. What type of partner marketing activities will I be having?
    • Depths or Breadth partner marketing activities?
      • Depth:  1:1, such as face to face meetings, partner-level partner account planning…
      • Breadth: 1 to many partners, such as a webcast, partner summits, newsletters, websites…
      • Or a combination or both?
    • What type of partner marketing activities: to, through or with partner marketing?
      • To Partner marketing: Targeting partners to inform and train them, influence their management chain and sales force, integrate your messaging into theirs,etc.
      • Through partner marketing: Providing partner the tools to promote your solution through their sales channels.
        • Customer-ready collateral such as customizable leaflets, PowerPoint presentations, product demos…
        • Below the line marketing support: company co-branded email campaigns templates, banners for shows or websites, branded swag (stuff we all get)…
      • With/Co Partner marketing: when activities are done together such as:
        • Your company present on a partner booth at a trade show (or vice versa)
        • A combined technical seminar or webcast, each company presenting its own part of a total solution
        • Promo offer combined both products for a better price
      • All of those 3?

This framework, integrated into the process of developing a marketing mix can help ensure this critical part of the puzzle is not overlooked.

The last “"P” I use is Projects, or the impact a few key projects or customers can have on the overall business. This will be the topic of my next post.

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