The following is an edited transcript of Business Solutions’ Editor in Chief Mike Monocello’ s Q&A with Jason Firment, Director of Point of Sale and Director of VARCOM for BlueStar which took place at ISV IQ Live! held October 6 in Philadelphia.
Listen to the live Q&A below.
Monocello: We’re going to talk a little bit about VARCOM; can you give us a 60-second overview?
Firment: We wanted to make sure everybody understood what value adds we bring as a distributor, and that's an elite marketing program available to all of our active partners. VARCOM is our internal resource of staff we have available to provide general marketing services in demand. If you're looking for activities related to just developing a sales sheet or sales book, we can do that. We can also develop websites, e-commerce sites, and then we do a lot of end-user demand generation.
Monocello: What parts of the VARCOM program do ISVs take advantage of the most?
Firment: Believe it or not, many ISVs still do a lot of traditional outbound, demand-generation. We do a lot of traditional marketing with them as well where we develop sales sheet and what not. A lot of them, and the dealer community, like to use the actual free service we have available to active partners called Catalo-on-Demand. We have a web portal where you can go in and pick and choose items that may be products you support and now you have a hardware catalog custom designed for you. This is produced online in minutes.
We still do a lot of email blasts and we have a telemarketing team; all BlueStar folks educated just like our sales team so they really understand the channel; they really understand the products that they sell. Plus, if you have ISVs and dealers who are regionally going after a market, we put together multi-touch campaigns that could last two, three, four months. We’re hitting them with direct mail blasts and use our telemarketing services to try to draw some responsibility.
Monocello: Any parts of the program that you wish more ISVs took advantage of?
Firment: I would have to say inbound marketing. We’ve been experts of doing traditional marketing for well over a decade now and we got into inbound marketing which. As everybody knows, the first thing people do when they’re looking for solutions is go online and try to find what they’re looking for. So we work with a lot of third party agencies where we can go after niche industries and put together content, or an e-book or a case study, maybe some educational material, and we market it through these third party websites and their customer bases.
The end-user base could be tens of thousands of contacts that get promoted through email blast or web banners on the websites through various methods.
Monocello: Can you share with the audience a case study or two from some of the ISVs you have worked with that have had success with this program?
Firment: We recently did was around inbound marketing with an ISV that created a waiting room solution for clinics and healthcare. They have a key portion of it that’s customer-facing, then they also have a digital signage component to talk about where you are in the queue or if you have something that’s in procedure at hospital. We marketed to healthcare partners we have and drove about 70 to 75 opportunities their way, all related around clinics and offices where the customer could check them self in.
Monocello: If someone is interested in working with BlueStar, what are some steps for getting started?
Firment: This program is available to any active BlueStar partner and is a value add we’ve stood behind for a long time. The great thing about it is we’re not a revenue generator; I’m not here to sell you my marketing services and make money doing that. Our job is to help grow your business because, if you can grow your business, we can actually grow ours. So, pretty much everything we do is at the cost it takes to get done.
Compared to going out and having somebody on staff or using a local agency, we’re going to be cheaper and, the cherry on top of that, is we love a lot of our manufacture partners. So if you work for some of the products that we sell — Zebra, Honeywell, HP — you know we can leverage them from market to assist you and, in most cases, we can fund a majority of the program.
Monocello: What activity would you typically start with, with a partner?
Firment: It’s going to be a consultation. We’re going to sit down on the phone and spend an hour talking about the pain points you’re having. You might have a marketing staff or marketing person available, but they’re overwhelmed. We can be an extension of that person and help with overflow.
If you don’t have a marketing person, we can be that marketing partner for you. We have a complete design staff available, training facility, all that stuff. So, I really need to understand where you want to go, what you want to do, and what your target market looks like and then begin to focus on putting together something that’s going to work for you and be cost-effective as well.
Monocello: If someone engages with you today, realistically, how soon can they see results? Tomorrow?
Firment: I wish it was that easy. It really depends on the complexity of what you want done. We can get off the ground pretty much immediately, if we have the right resources on both sides, because we need information from you to develop all of this. But we can turn around. If you want to re-build your website because it’s old and you haven’t had time to get to it, that’s a project we can start within days. If it’s something you need funded that takes a little more time because we have to put a business plan together, we are going to present it to various manufacturers and that might take a little more time. But we usually can get a campaign off the ground within 7 to 10 days once we know what you want.