IBM Adds Social Dynamic to B2B Campaign

  |  July 28, 2008   |  Comments

Site allows mid-market partners to communicate with IBM and one another.

IBM is bringing the worlds of social networking and business-to-business marketing a little closer together with a multimedia campaign that debuts today.

Seeking to forge a tighter relationship with the companies that bring its technology into middle-market business across North America, Armonk N.Y.-based IBM is launching a campaign called "Helping Partners Grow Profitably with IBM".

voiceibm.jpg

The campaign will include print advertising in CRN, varBusiness and ChannelPro magazines and banner advertising on each magazine's Web site during the third and fourth quarters. It will also be featured on IBM's PartnerWorld Web site, which IBM now uses to convey product and service information to its business partners, and in e-mail communications to existing PartnerWorld members.

But these more traditional forms of outreach will now be paired with a social networking site, Voice of the Business Partner, which will be linked to PartnerWorld. On it, companies that deal with middle-market businesses -- which IBM defines as having between 100 and 999 employees -- will be able to talk back to IBM in real time. They will be able to express their opinions of the campaign and of the ways in which IBM serves the mid-market, and network with other partner companies. IBM will then take the feedback and use it to tweak the second round of its print and online ads, as well as its interaction with partners.

Chris MacLaughlin, VP of marketing in the IBM Systems & Technology Group, told ClickZ IBM hopes the partners will use the Voice site to create new relationships among themselves, and to form partner networks and alliances to better deliver IBM products and services. She added the partner networks could be local.

IBM says it hopes to get a better handle on the needs of its mid-market channel partners and make it easier for them to get the services they need from the tech giant.

"Our partners have told us that they want IBM to be easier to do business with, and that we need to bring them the tools that are most relevant to them," said MacLaughlin. "They want to grow their businesses in a profitable way, and if our business partners grow, we grow." IBM also hopes to attract new partners through the campaign.

According to MacLaughlin, the "Grow Profitably" campaign started as a collaborative effort between all the IBM groups that now work with cross-channel partners. Ogilvy & Mather then took IBM's ideas for print ads and incorporated the social networking component into it. MacLaughlin says this is the first time that social networking has been tried within IBM's channel community, although IBM has used online forums in the past.

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