ASCII Lends A Hand


Group to host seminars for vendors, solution providers to meet SMBs


The ASCII Group is hosting a series of marketing seminars that will bring vendors and solution providers together with potential SMB clients.

Symantec, Seagate, Iomega, Oculan, Hewlett-Packard, Network Integration and Dun and Bradstreet are co-sponsoring the seminars, the first of which is scheduled for Aug. 15 in Washington, D.C., said ASCII Group Chairman Alan Weinberger.

"This is going to be high-touch marketing, not electronic marketing," he said. "We have 50 ASCII dealers signed up for the first seminar. These six vendors are going to pay for about 30,000 end-user mailings on behalf of these 50 dealers."

The ASCII Group, Bethesda, is an organization of about 2,000 North American independent solution providers. About 90 percent of the members target the SMB market, Weinberger said, adding that the group collectively generates about $10.5 billion annually in end-user sales.

Jerry Koutavas, the ASCII Group's vice president of business development, called the effort to develop new business opportunities for SMB solution providers a "guerrilla marketing" tactic. Vendors have existing plans to generate leads for their reseller partners, but most of them are confined to electronic lead-generation systems, Koutavas said.

"All these electronic tools do exist, but it really takes a reseller in the channel to execute," he said. "ASCII is bridging this gap by not only educating resellers on proven marketing techniques, but assuring the vendors and resellers that marketing does happen."

The ASCII Group is providing the manpower to coordinate the leads and then send out the 30,000 direct-mail pieces and approximately 10,000

e-mails to additional SMB prospects on solution providers' behalf, he said.

Most SMB resellers don't have a marketing team to handle such an extensive marketing campaign, Koutavas said. "The vendors get to go to this event with solution providers and help them market," he said. "The vendors often send out electronic leads to solution providers, but the problem is, how do resellers manage those leads?"

Said Weinberger: "The vendors are paying us to make this happen, and the solution provider only has to pay $95 to attend the training session. The vendors, in theory, could do this with distributors, but that doesn't work because dealers don't want distributors sending out their end-user mail pieces."

Solution providers don't have to spend their own money and then wait to be reimbursed for co-op advertising, Weinberger said. "Here, they don't put a penny up front, and we do the whole thing for them. The mailing pieces go out the day of the seminar."