Palm Springs, Calif. – The IT industry has basically accepted that solution providers, as a whole, are the worst marketers on the planet.
Even when they try to be proactive with marketing they lack imagination and sophistication. High tech vendors have tried over the years to help by supplying the channel with market development funds and easy-to-run programs only for it be left on the table, squandered on some golf outing or simply misused.
Ingram Micro is trying to change that conversation and has embarked on an ambitious plan to become a marketing agency for the channel.
Assigned to run this new marketing agency is Ingram vice president Jennifer Anaya. The agency was spawned from the creative services department of Ingram. The agency is called AIM or Agency Ingram Micro and will be based in three cities: Toronto, Santa Ana, Calif., and Buffalo, N.Y.
Ingram has pooled its creative services resources and under AIM are a 200 person operation. AIM’s approach will also be unconventional compared to other well-known marketing firms such as Omnicom Group and Aegis Group. Ingram has brought together five different types of agencies into one solely focused on channel marketing.
Besides channel marketing; inside AIM will be a group strictly focused on branding. Another area of AIM just does events. There will also be a group for advertising and another on integrated marketing.
“Ingram Micro is a behemoth and we have built lots of marketing programs all around the North American marketplace. There is no shortage of marketing programs. We currently have more than 180 in the product marketing umbrella and then we finally realized that if we put our headcount together we would be a marketing force to be reckoned with,” said Dennis Crupi, director of creative services at AIM.
Crupi added that IT companies are in need of all these types of services and will get them under one-house instead of working with four different marketing firms.
“How many times have we heard solution providers say we tried to work with a marketing firm and the first 200 billable hours was us teaching them what the channel is? Or what’s an MSP? And, you have to pay them to understand the channel business before they can do anything for you,” Anaya said.
AIM did a soft-launch in August and has built out its infrastructure to include centralized functions such as business development, creative, and account management.
“We understand the channel and we can get you quicker to market and shorten the sales cycle,” Crupi said.
Since the new agency is associated with Ingram Micro, AIM already sports more than 500 clients in the vendor community and roughly about 100 solution providers.
Crupi said these clients come in all shapes and sizes with some having revenues of more than $100 million dollars and others who are just start-ups.
“We can work with all of them in the way they need us to,” he said.
Crupi said that AIM would not act as a solution provider’s marketing manager. Since most solution providers have, at best, one marketing person the problem, Crupi believes, is that they do not have the bandwidth to execute because they are just one person. “That’s where we come in,” he said.
Anaya said that AIM’s initial goal is to just let the channel partners know these marketing services exist.
“We are a real, bona-fide agency and not Ingram Micro’s agency,” she added.
From a Canadian standpoint, Jennifer Johnson, the marketing director for Ingram Micro Canada will be taking the lead on client services from a North American perspective.
AIM has also be able to recruit top marketing talent to the new organization. Crupi said that he just hired Ewan Pidgeon, who has more than 20 years of experience working for noted marketing agencies such as JWT and Saatchi & Saatchi.
“We did not just invest in infrastructure with AIM but also with outside talent. We have brought in some heavy hitters from the creative director side that is going to supplement our ability. We are putting our money where our mouth is to prove what kind of work we can do for the channel,” Crupi said.