Marketing Messages Drive IBM’s Midmarket Push
IBM (NYSE: IBM) has a new “Engine of the Week” feature at its Facebook midmarket page to give more marketing visibility to customers that change how they do business, typically either by deploying IBM analytics or cloud technology in concert with a channel partner.
It’s not unusual to hype a customer engagement, particularly when it involves a channel partner, but IBM plans to do this type of promotion on a regular, as in weekly, basis. That level of midmarket marketing, is, well, unusual.
In this case, N2N Global, a 29-year old company based in Orlando, specializing in food safety and ERP solutions for the food supply chain, worked with Cherry Central, a Traverse City, Mich., cooperative of hundreds of fruit and vegetable growers in North and South America to track food items to better ensure safety and quality.
According to Franz Dill’s Eponymous Pickle website, N2N Global’s chief executive Ernesto Nardone is a former IBMer connected tangentially to IBM’s Watson. The net-net of the engagement was that Cherry Central improved its data-tracking capabilities, boosting productivity by 50 percent in the process.
Talk about a niche.
Other than the fact that food safety (read: E. coli outbreaks, etc.) is a hot topic these days, costing $152 billion a year in the United States, with 48 million food-related illnesses and 3,000 deaths a year, what makes this story noteworthy from an IT perspective?
It’s this: Mark Hennessy, IBM’s new channel chief, believes that it takes more than the standard menu of channel perks and incentives to continue to drive the company’s midmarket sales. Selling channel partners on myriad possibilities for success by marketing the heck out of engagements that result in successful business outcomes — especially those in a unique segment — is the new ticket.
“Partners are most interested in helping end-user clients move to higher value spaces and to drive more value to their businesses,” Hennessy said. “It’s not just about partners delivering more capability to clients, it’s also about IBM helping partners to market their capabilities. We always want to learn how we can help partners move into a new market.”
This isn’t to say that partner incentives, joint marketing, support and the like are garden variety when positioned next to an artful marketing campaign. But maybe selling the value of the engagement after the fact — over and over — is creeping up in importance.