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IDC, Ketchum form channel communications alliance

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New York and Framingham, Mass.--Technology analysts IDC and public relations firm Ketchum Monday announced an alliance to help technology vendors improve communications with channel partners.

Channel partner sales will account for 40% to 60% of the $1.1 trillion in overall information technology sales next year. Yet technology vendors’ channel strategies are largely “outdated or dysfunctional,” the two companies said in a written statement. The new program, called ChannelEdge, will first provide analysis to determine what issues are important to a client’s channel partners and then address those issues through media relations, analyst relations, newsletters, Internet sites, government lobbying, trade shows and other initiatives.

Chief among channel partners’ concerns today is channel conflict—competition between a vendor’s direct sales and the channel, said Paul Rand, director of the Ketchum Global Technology Practice. “Everybody thought they could be the next Dell--they would sell direct, cut out the channel, increase the profits and have one-on-one relationships with customers,” Rand said. But, in actuality, many customers want to buy from channel partners, which can add service and support to vendors' products.

Pricing will start at $20,000 to $40,000 for simple assessment of a vendor’s relationship with channel partners. ChannelEdge will also plan and execute communications programs.

ChannelEdge will identify and describe high-priority channel partners and their needs. The program will work on developing consistent messages to communicate with those partners and with key influencers such as the media and analysts. And the program will execute communications, including newsletters, media relations, government lobbying, speakers and trade shows.

--Mitch Wagner

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