CEA: Best Channel Marketing Solution

Even with the best technologists in the world, marketing can be the challenge that keeps many solution providers from taking that next step and growing their businesses. To succeed, partners need to be creative, and the Gold winner for Best Channel Marketing Solution took creativity to the extreme.

Based in Winnipeg, Epic Information Solutions was looking for a way to market into the competitive small-and-medium-sized business (SMB) space. Specifically, said David Reid, Epic’s president and CEO, they wanted to reach the customers that don’t have their own dedicated IT staff, but still have the need for quality IT services.

“We were tinkering with what we could do that would attract their attention. Not IT people but office managers and business people,” said Reid. “We had the idea of imitating the extreme makeover shows and do an IT makeover for one business, giving away a substantial prize. We thought that would raise a few eyebrows and attract some potential clients.”

The result was an Extreme IT Makeover contest that received well over 100 entries. Some were simple and short, some were quite lengthily, and spoke to the challenges many Canadians SMBs are facing around technology.

Reid said some were pretty harsh, with businesses making do wito very old hardware and software. Some were still running Windows 3.1 or Windows 95. Some were non-profits or under-served schools that really tugged at the heartstrings, said Reid.

“We wanted to make sure we picked someone who would take advantage of the opportunity to renew their ability to leverage technology and use it as a platform to do more in the future, rather than treat it as a one-time lottery win that’s the end of the journey,” said Reid.

The winning company was Challenger Manufacturing, a company that makes street cleaning machines. On top of the infrastructure that Epic built for them, Reid said they bought new software to leverage the Epic hardware and improve their business even further.

While there could only be one winner, each contest submission was treated as a lead by Epic. Each received a follow-up phone-call followed by an on site visit to see how they’re using technology and how they could take advantage of new investment. Several of these leads turned into sales, with one doing over $100,000 of business with Epic.

Reid said the promotion was definitely a success, generating business and lots of publicity for Epic. However, he said they’re already on the hunt for their next big marketing idea.

The Silver award for Best Channel Marketing Initiative went to IT Weapons Inc. of Brampton, Ont. For organizing its first end-user conference. The company leveraged its vendor partners to bring in experts on virtualization to help its users separate the reality from the myth and learn just what their virtualization options are. The event filled a need for its customers by providing a low-cost training opportunity in a year of tight budgets.

And the Bronze award went to Toronto’s CMS Consulting. In partnership with Microsoft, this solution provider developed custom training courses focused on the deployment of core pieces of Microsoft infrastructure, particularly around virtualization.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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