Jamie Ellison is the latest partner to make our list of marketing experts in Partner Marketing Done Right. As the vice president of Digital at Virtual Graffiti, Ellison has helped the company develop online marketing and advertising programs for more than 100 IT vendors during his tenure using a unique mix of branded websites, paid advertising and SEO.
Virtual Graffiti is an Irvine, California-based IT solution provider for business, government and education customers. The company prides itself on helping customers to find the right solutions for their particular brand, beginning with early decision-making through product fulfillment and post sales reports.
In his position, Ellison oversees all creative marketing and brand strategy projects for Virtual Graffiti and manages web developers and designers. He is also responsible for maintaining the company’s network of branded websites to promote Virtual Graffiti’s go-to-market strategy and for developing all of the online marketing and advertising programs to attract new customers. Here is how Ellison makes his company stand out from the crowd.
TVG: What type and how much marketing does your company do in an average month?
Ellison: Virtual Graffiti prides itself on its unique marketing model and our ability to connect with customers through multiple marketing channels. Using a vast network of over 150 individually branded websites, we market our strategic partnerships individually—bringing into focus the strengths and benefits of each brand we carry. We use paid advertising, search engine optimization (SEO) and social media to bring our content in front of our customers. We also perform regular outreach—both by phone and email—to keep our customers engaged with the latest technology solutions we offer. Our marketing is at the center of what we do each and every day. It gives our sales and engineering teams the highest quality leads and uncovers new opportunities with new and existing accounts.
TVG: What has been the most successful method of marketing for your company?
Ellison: Using branded websites for the products we carry has really been the driving force for our successful growth. We have found that traditional marketing methods are just not effective in today’s world. Using a combination of online advertising and SEO allows our websites to rank high, both in paid and organic listings, for the brands and solutions we carry. We then provide the most comprehensive content for customers for that particular solution: technical data sheets, easy-to-follow pricing, video and online demo content. This allows visitors to make an informative decision and proceed with making a purchase, either online or on the phone with one of our representatives.
TVG: How do you measure the success of your marketing efforts?
Ellison: We use a wide range of analytics and reports to track our progress. We have also created in-depth reporting with our internal ERP/CRM system so that top-level management can analyze data and provide feedback to our employees and partners. We feel that transparency builds a strong and effective partnership and allows us to refine our marketing programs around changes in the market.
TVG: Do you have an in-house marketing program or do you outsource?
Ellison: Our entire operation is done in-house by our marketing and web development teams. Each developer is trained on SEO and content marketing best practices. We also use regular feedback from our sales teams to answer the questions our customers have and post them to our websites. Our in-house team is also responsible for maintaining all social media channels—providing our community with the latest industry news and product announcements on a daily basis.
TVG: What advice would you have for VARs/solution providers that don’t have a regular marketing program in place?
Ellison: Online marketing is critical to success in our industry—it allows you to not only uncover the right opportunity, but also to form the relationships that generate revenue. Customers want to be informed and use the Internet to search for solutions to their problems. If your company isn’t showing up in the search results, you are already several steps behind your competitors. Start by creating a balance of paid, organic (SEO) and social media marketing along with the right product content that will connect with your customers. Outline your goals, form the right partnerships, and hire talented individuals that believe in your company message. Your customers will see this and will stay loyal to your business.