Manufacturers and integrators are finding that B2B co-op marketing programs are providing benefits for both, whether the program is formal or more ad-hoc.
Applied Motion Systems, a systems integrator and custom machine builder focused on coordinated motion and drive systems, started working with Siemens about 13 years ago, seeking out a partner for a motion controller that would fit well with its drive system for the aerospace industry, said Ken Brown, Applied Motion Systems founder and CEO.
In a couple of years, Siemens approached Applied Motion Systems about the Siemens National Solutions Partner Program. Siemens seeks out participating partners with either a market or a geographic strength, as well as particular product or integration specialty competencies. These areas of expertise are then supported by the products, application engineering, and delivery to market strategies at Siemens to affect the optimum solutions for customers, whether they build airplanes, boats, medical apparatus or automobiles.
“They came to us primarily motivated out of wanting to serve their customers better; when we investigated the program, it made sense,” Brown said.
“It provides a structured framework for training on their technologies and certification of our engineers. It also provides a structured means by which we collaborate with their account managers with specific industries and customers. It makes a lot of sense for us, just from the standpoint that it introduced us also to some of their distribution channel partners.”
For example, Siemens introduced Applied Motions to an aerospace company that couldn’t solve a problem with machinery it had purchased. Brown’s team rewrote the software, reconfigured the machinery and solved the issue, a $250,000 project, that helped the aerospace company as well as Applied Motions’ bottom line.
In addition to initial jobs like that, the introductions through the program often lead to repeat business, Brown added.
Though Brown didn’t have hard statistics, he estimated that his company had increased its business 15-20 percent working with distributors involved in the program. Prior to the Siemens program, aerospace represented about 1.5 percent of the company’s business. Now it’s 20 percent of the business.
As well as the program has worked for Applied Motion Systems, Brown expects to derive even more benefits in the future.
“We’ve had more interaction with the program recently to develop more marketing materials and to be introduced to more of Siemens’ distribution channels,” Brown explained.
Josh Bryan, CEO of Braeden Engineering and Consulting, a company that specializes in engineering solutions for hazardous environments such as oil refineries, drilling sites, etc., echoed many of Brown’s thoughts about the Siemens program.
“If Siemens comes across something a customer needs in a hazardous location, they would give us a call and introduce us to the customer. Then we would go in and design a solution,” Bryan said. This helps Siemens provide a solution to the customer in an area (engineering solutions for hazardous environments) that Siemens doesn’t specialize in.
For example, if an oil refinery needed a new starter for a motor, Braden would use Siemens parts and components to package it to meet safety regulations for that type of environment.
The Siemens National Solutions Partner Program provides a seamless community of integrators and potential customers to facilitate introductions and also provides training on Siemens products, certifying integrators so that end customers know they are working with an integrator knowledgeable about working with Siemens products.
“The training has been tremendous; and the introductions to the end users and distributors has been key, both for us and for Siemens.”
In addition to the benefits Brown and Bryan mentioned, the program helps end customers learn about potential solution providers they might not otherwise be aware of, said Ben Green, manager of the Siemens National Solutions Partner program.
An end customer in the Pacific Northwest may need services from a company like Braden Engineering which is based in the South. While someone in the South might need solutions from a company like Applied Motions Systems, but may not know the company.
With connections to both as well as other partners who are part of the program, Siemens can facilitate the introductions.
The Siemens program specifically seeks out partners with particular market and geographic strengths as well as expertise in particular areas, such as working in hazardous environments or in aerospace.
The purpose of the program is to bring end customers together with integrators that are certified with Siemens products to ensure jobs get completed correctly, according to Ben Green, Siemens program manager.
“The program exists to really help us identify key integrators as solution partners for Siemens that we want to we want to grow and invest with, and bring into our customers.”
MiR Shifts Some Marketing to Integration Partners
Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR) doesn’t have a formal co-op marketing program, but has shifted some of its marketing focus from distributors to its integration partners.
At trade shows, representatives from MiR and from integrators work together in each other’s booths, said Andy Battler, director of operations for the AGV division of JMP Solutions, a company that helps integrate MiR robots for end customers, ensuring the MiR software works with the end customer’s legacy solutions.
MiR will also provide robots for events such as open houses when an integration partner has an open house or similar event. During the past year, MiR and integrators collaborated on virtual trade shows as well as webinars.
“MiR has a premiere technology in the OEM space,” Battler added. “Having expertise with that technology helps me build our brand as a premiere integrator.
MiR and JMP have also collaborated on whitepapers, Battler said, adding that marketing is critical to achieving the company’s goal of 20 percent annual growth.
“We will always evaluate opportunities to work with our partners in a more strategic fashion,” Battler said.
Matt Charles, MiR sales director for the U.S. Midwest region, added: “On the marketing side, it’s really about generating leads, opportunities and an interest in the company. We want to make sure that people are finding our integration partners by featuring them on our website.”
All MiR certified integrators are included on the company’s website, with different ones featured about every month. MiR also works with integrators on social media messaging, Charles said. “Featuring them as certified integrators has certainly been valuable for our partners.”
Other manufacturers and integrators work together on their own collaborative marketing programs – formal and informal – providing benefits for both.