It doesn’t take a pandemic to alert office technology dealers to the possibilities that unique and nontraditional marketing initiatives can provide in generating engagement among existing and prospective clients. But what we have learned since March 2020 is that ingenuity, humor and fun tactics are instrumental for dealers to crack a market that is still taking a cautious approach to its technology investments.
We bid adieu to October’s State of the Industry focus on marketing with a handful of examples from our dealer panel on how they have taken the nontraditional route to spark interest and generate that critical initial conversation with clients and prospects on how they can better serve their product and service needs.
While e-commerce has become mainstream, Virginia Business Systems feels it is largely overlooked by the office technology space. Thus, the dealer is developing its own e-commerce platform to leverage the growing number of people who prefer to buy online, according to Keith Bax, director of marketing for the Roanoke-based firm.
“The demographic shifts we are seeing in our customer base, especially as more millennials advance into positions of business leadership, portend well for us being a player in the e-commerce channel,” Bax noted.
The dealer also reports solid results in using Vidyard Pro to produce one-to-one personalized videos that sales reps use for prospect follow-ups, which is a more targeted approach for recipients who don’t respond to mass emails, phone calls or texts. The videos are saved with animated thumbnails, which increases the likelihood of the recipient clicking on it.
Manufacturer HP has been a critical partner for Seattle-based Copiers Northwest. The OEM produced 15- and 30-second video spots that the dealer has been able to leverage on social media, according to Ian Crockett, ICE Advertising president and Copiers Northwest’s rep. The spots have generated a strong number of hits and educated end-users on the OEM’s product arsenal.
“HP came to us and said they wanted to help us sell more of their product,” Crockett said, adding that the manufacturer also sprang for a hosted event on security in Seattle that Copiers Northwest marketed heavily, with fantastic results.
Cup of Joe
Pearson-Kelly Technology of Springfield, Missouri, appealed to customers in universal fashion—providing a pick-me-up/wake-me-up function with a branded coffee mug, a business card with a list of the dealer’s offerings and an IOU note for a free cup of coffee. According to Makenzie Ward, marketing coordinator, the mug is part of the company’s sales prospecting swag kit. The IOU is redeemable during the initial meeting.
“The goal was to give reps an easy way to approach prospects and set meetings,” she said. “This past summer, we ran a Summer Swag Kit campaign where we packaged branded koozies and sunglasses to take on PBRs and discuss one of our new service offerings.”
Quite often, dealers can enjoy a salutary impact on engagement opportunities when marketing other aspects of their business, such as corporate culture and philanthropic endeavors. That was the case for Access Systems of Waukee, Iowa, which has used social media and on-premise advertising to promote its Access Cares initiatives.
Charlie Kiesling, director of people & culture, notes the dealer runs digital ads on stadium electronic displays and sponsors large banners that hang at soccer fields. While the results of such efforts are hard to quantify, many customers, prospects, manufacturers and even some competitors have alluded to the Access Cares activities, which are featured in the banners and digital ads.
“Not only do we believe that it is a key cultural element, but it has also been great leverage in both selling and business growth opportunities,” Kiesling said.
While digital and inbound marketing strategies have proven to be most effective for Gordon Flesch Company, the Madison, Wisconsin-based dealer has enjoyed success with creative email and drop-off campaigns. One such initiative featured a combination of virtual reality glasses, video and landing pages to attract key customers, and won the dealer an ADDY Award from the American Advertising Federation, notes Connie Dettman, marketing director.
A more recent campaign saw account representatives send a stress ball in a small box with a tagline and the rep’s contact information on one side.
“We’ve found that if you keep your campaigns cost-effective but impactful, you can reach a lot of people,” Dettman noted. “We’re working on more campaigns like this that we will test out in different markets and then, if they are effective, we’ll roll them out across the company and target them for local audiences.”