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Dusting Off the Marketing Toolkit

13 Nov, 2008 By: John Mancini imageSource

Dusting Off the Marketing Toolkit

So you’ve decided that it makes sense to expand you business from a focus
on copiers into the broader world of document management.  And you’re wondering
where to start.

Let me share a little secret with you.  After 13 years at AIIM, I have frankly
seen more than my share of marketing efforts that didn’t quite hit the
mark. During my first AIIM Show in 1996 (back when we owned the AIIM On Demand
Show, then just the AIIM Show) I walked down the aisle and within five minutes
had discussions with two separate vendors. They were from the same part of the
industry. They had identically sized booths. They were even on the same row. 
One told me their results from the show “tanked.”  The other told me it was

I realized then and there that there was perhaps more nuance to this
question of marketing effectiveness than I might have first realized.

If marketing accountability and effectiveness is tough at the vendor
level, it’s even more problematic at the channel level.  I’ve long wanted to
probe exact what was working – and not working – for the document channel, and
recently launched a survey to do just that. I thought I would share some
highlights with the image Source audience.  If you’d like a full copy of the
survey results, just ping me at
and I would be happy to send it to you.

A bit about the participants: 78 channel companies participated in the
survey.  Two-thirds were from modestly size companies – less than $10M in total
document and content related revenues.  The participants appeared to be in
fairly robust health, with 35% anticipating growth of 20% or more next year.

Key Findings:

Marketing in the document channel can be pretty frustrating.

Some 66% of the respondents self-described their marketing effectiveness as
“fair” or “poor.”  The dissatisfaction grows as the size of the company shrinks.
Clearly, many channel companies are frustrated with their marketing efforts and
struggling to get mind share in a market that is increasingly dominated by
larger players. Manufacturers are buying distributors, and particularly with
regards to more comprehensive document solutions, there will a growing focus on
direct sales.  The marketing co-op dollars that are available will come under
increasing pressure in this environment.

Not many surprises in the toolkit.

When it comes to the “marketing toolkit,” the most popular items (percentages in
chart refers to dealers, distributors and resellers who say they conduct a
particular activity) come as no surprise.  For many companies in the document
channel, the typical marketing plan consists of a few local events, maybe some
rudimentary market research, a vertical event or two, and a partner conference. 

There is a method to this madness.  Among those who conduct an activity,
those ranking that activity as “good” or “excellent” directly parallels the
activities most popular with the channel.  The top three activities for lead
generation?  Regional conferences and events, vertical events, and partner
conferences.  [Note: AIIM runs a successful road show for the industry in the
Spring and Fall, so we’re glad to see the high value placed on these type
events  by the channel.]

The structure of marketing activities is changing. 

More and more channel players are shifting their marketing approach to make
it more accountable.  76% say they are shifting their efforts to focus more on
campaigns around specific themes or issues,  65% report that web advertising is
growing more rapidly than print, and 62% say that in absolute terms web spending
is now greater than print.  Marketing folks believe they are doing their job
relative to sales, but are not so sure about the opposite.  78% report that
there is a clear process for handing leads off to sales, but less than half
think believe there is a clear process to track business won back to the lead

A key to moving into the document space – get trained. 

Only 37% of those we surveyed provide training on the industry for their
sales and marketing staff.  This is in stark contrast to those who believe such
training would be “useful” or “very useful.”  ECM (79%), records management
(73%), BPM (64%), and information organization and access, or search (59%) are
some likely candidates.  Training can be a key differentiator in a crowded

So my advice to those in the copier channel looking to cross over into the
document management channel?  Be realistic.  Choose a couple of tools from the
kit, but link your efforts together.  Don’t just buy a random set of ala carte
marketing products from a variety of B2B vendors.  And get your staff trained.

John Mancini has been President of AIIM (http://www.aiim.org),
the leading association focused on the document, records, and content management
space, since 1996.  AIIM also operates a social networking site for industry
executives at
and conducts the industry’s leading training
program (http://www.aiim.org/training)
If you’d like a full copy of the survey results,  send John an email at

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