Lenovo, a computer manufacturer and technology company, turned to B2B loyalty marketer Motivforce to drive loyalty and engagement within its partner channel, as well as grow relationships with newly added partners from a recent acquisition.
In 2014, IBM divested its System X86 server division by selling the business to Lenovo. This included not only the acquisition of hardware solutions, but also the product name and business partner distribution channel. These new partners had been loyal to IBM for many years and were unaccustomed to doing business with a company like Lenovo — let alone one that was unknown for manufacturing and selling servers. The challenge for Lenovo was to migrate these System X86 sellers to Lenovo and convince them to remain in the distribution channel.
Thomas Marquie, Program Manager for Lenovo’s Worldwide Data Center Group (DCG) Brand and Sales Enablement, said that these new partners required “a one-stop shop where the partners can receive benefits and help firms differentiate themselves.”
Motivforce helped the company develop LEAP (Lenovo Expert Achievers Program) to drive loyalty and engagement. Every element of LEAP was built from scratch in terms of infrastructure and support. LEAP also had to meet the cultural and geographical business needs of 8,000 participants, and 1,800 firms in 80 countries involving eight languages.
The program is delivered to partners through a portal, which is designed to offer them online tools, and educational and technical resources to help them sell Lenovo server products effectively.
LEAP is structured around two components:
These points can then be redeemed online for rewards such as MasterCard gift cards or other reloadable cards.
“Three people on the Lenovo side laid out the program — designed the terms of service and whatnot — and [Motivforce] had one program manager,” said Marquie. “In six months, we created a finished product that we deployed at the firm and seller level.”
The LEAP program encouraged the former IBM partners to migrate and remain loyal to Lenovo, and it more than doubled the active user base and achieved significant revenue for Lenovo — 40% more than its target. The company also stated that the number of educational modules completed by partners was 200% more than its original target.
The program also impacted partner sales efficacy; partners sold seven times more Lenovo products than non-participants in 2015.
Lenovo is now looking into growing its benefit offerings to promote deeper engagement within the program. “The latest thing we’re doing is providing nonfinancial benefits, such as dog walking and grocery services,” he said. “We can extend bread and butter loyalty programs and quickly bring in new content and programs to better our partnerships.”
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Seventy-one percent of B2B marketers said that digital marketing and technological skill sets will be required for their roles in the next three to five years, according to an Association of National Advertisers (ANA)/Business Marketing Association (BMA) study released at the ANA/BMA16: Masters of B2B Marketing Conference in Chicago. However, a mere 7% of those polled said they have effective processes in place for capturing data on buyer behavior, attitudes and engagement.
“Our study shows that B2B marketers have much to offer, but that message is not getting through to the right people within their own organizations,” said ANA President and CEO Bob Liodice. “These marketers need to implement growth leadership initiatives, put forth a clear vision of their brands and develop strategies to remove barriers.”
The online survey of 237 B2B marketers was conducted by the ANA and its research partner, GfK, in March 2016. It included BMA members, as well as ANA members in B2B companies.
The ANA/BMA provided a set of recommendations for B2B marketers along with the study, and several featured speakers that presented during the three-day conference echoed these points as crucial elements to marketing success: