HP partners frustrated at marketing scheme

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HP partners frustrated at marketing scheme

Paul Kunert

Hewlett-Packard preferred partners are trying to make the best out of a bad situation as it emerged that many still feel the marketing services agency (MSA) scheme they are forced to use is inappropriate for their business.

Resellers first aired grievances with MSA and NetPartnering - the company HP employs to provide marketing services for partners - last year, when they said they could run their own marketing campaigns more effectively.

The portfolio of marketing options offered by NetPartnering has increased but the frustration with MSA remains. Greg Carlow, managing director at Repton, said the lead generation service it used was very poor.

"It is a programme that does not cater for our enterprise requirements and as far as I am concerned the money spent with MSA has been totally useless," he said.

The programme was unveiled to partners in late 2006 as HP wanted to get more visibility and accountability of the marketing development funds (MDF) it provided to resellers - the highest in the industry - which in the past had been open to abuse.

Resellers must spend 20 per cent of their MDF with NetPartnering and Tim Thrower, managing director at OCSL, said losing control of some funds had not been great for enterprise players.

"The difference for some of the enterprise partners is that they have their own marketing programmes that are underway but as the money is [held] by HP we have to do something with MSA," he said.

Criticisms are not exclusive to enterprise partners and James Napp, sales director at e-tailer Bechtle Direct, said: "We are set up to be a business marketing organisation so to have someone else doing that is not helpful."

"In an ideal world there is no need for MSA, it's been tried and tested and proved it does not work," he said, adding: "To be fair, HP has listened and the only area it forces us to use MSA for now is supplies."

A spokesman at HP agreed MSA had been a step-change but said it met with resellers regularly at partner advisory councils to get feedback and it was looking to optimise the marketing scheme.

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