The Channel Futures Podcast Episode No. 23: Marketing with Machines and Transforming VAR Organizations

Insights and analysis from Averetek CEO and book author Peter Thomas and D&H Distributing Vice President Peter DiMarco.

Machine-assisted marketing?

It’s a real thing. And it’s already here in the channel.

In this episode, we hear from Averetek CEO and book author Peter Thomas. Thomas founded Averetek, which provides channel-marketing software and services to vendors and channel practitioners alike. Among others, Averetek works with SAP, Pure Storage, RSA Security, Splunk, FireEye and Avalara.

A creative and energetic entrepreneur – the company’s headquarters counts 37 Nerf guns among its assets – Thomas is also a writer and thought leader. Earlier this year, he published Marketing Multiplied: A real-world guide to Channel Marketing for beginners, practitioners and executives.

Thomas and co-author Mike Moore share insights on everything from how best to engage channel partners to creating programs that generate outcomes to developing the right mix of content and more.

In my interview with Thomas, we discuss some of the trends and best practices in channel marketing today. This includes something Thomas likes to call “random acts of marketing,” which is what far too many channel business owners are doing. This is essentially relying on scattershot marketing campaigns that do not have much in the way of follow up or measurable outcomes.

“Customers don’t appreciate ‘spray and pray’ marketing attempts,” he says. A better approach? “Level out the peaks and valleys in marketing by having an ‘always-on’ marketing effort.”

Thomas also says that two new developments have the potential to fundamentally change marketing as we know it. This includes the European GDPR law and artificial intelligence.

The former is having a chilling impact on email marketing campaigns, while the latter is now taking root in the channel. The automatic routing of leads done by machines today is routine in direct selling.

“It will soon spill over to the indirect sales world,” he adds.

As a result of these two developments, channel marketing will look very different than it does today.

“I have customers that are just not sending email any more. [As a result] social-media marketing becomes so much more important,” says Thomas.

As for DiMarco, a longtime channel veteran who worked at Ingram Micro and EarthLink before D&H, he has quite a few things to say on partner evolution. He also talks about some recent news. (In July, D&H unveiled plans to help support the ASCII Elite Group of Technology Solutions Advisors, which will meet four times per year with D&H executives. Among other things, the group will provide direction for D&H’s programs, educational offerings and services.)

In our interview, DiMarco shares his observations on what an SMB-focused VAR can do to transform itself into a more profitable services-oriented company. A key ingredient, he says, is to hire or dedicate one high-level executive to work on digital transformation. When DiMarco meets companies that have successfully transformed their businesses, more often than not they have a change agent dedicated to developing new lines of revenue, relationships and customer deliverables, he says.

Here's hoping you’ll enjoy this episode of The Channel Futures Podcast, which I’m calling “a tale of two Petes.”

If you’d like to be a guest on an upcoming episode or have a comment, drop me a line at [email protected]. (KNect365 is the division at Informa that includes Channel Futures and our colleagues at Channel Partners.)

For more episodes, subscribe to us on iTunes or check us out on SoundCloud.

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