View from the Hill - #5
Why are most* Sun
resellers invisible on the web?
- is it because they think that web technology is something which is only
good for their customers?
- are they useless at marketing? or,
- are they intimidated by competing with Sun's web site?
*excludes companies already listed on this site
In the first half of 2003, approximately 15% of US Sun VARs went
out of business.
view, based on years of research is:-
most Sun resellers are indeed useless at marketing, and don't realise how
difficult they make it for potential customers to find them. But let's not
forget the "paralysis by analysis" factor. If you see Sun's web site
every day, you may mistakenly believe that your new site has to have all those
features... That ain't necessarily so...
views from the hill...|
I meant to start this article with a more
controversial statement, such as "If you own shares in a Sun reseller
organization which is not listed in the
SPARC Product Directory,
then maybe you should sell them now, unless you believe that the business
strategy of being invisible to most Sun users is a good idea."
That's because if they aren't listed in this directory, then they are even
less likely to be listed anywhere else. FYI - all Sun resellers get free
links in this directory if either:-
- we find their web site. This is proactive research (we spend thousands of
hours every year searching for new suppliers)
- they find our web site, and fill in their geographic location (country and
state) and web address in the
add url form.
That's not too diificult, and companies get added typically within 1 or 2 days.
Before going any further, I'd just like to say:-
- The easier it is for you as a reader to find more resellers, the
more you can benefit from:- choosing a supplier with a more convenient
location, or a better product range, or a lower price.
- Manufacturers have diverse policies about publishing lists if their own
resellers. Some do make these publicly available. Most don't. Sun Microsystems
seems to have a policy which varies from country to country. But Sun is not in
the business of helping its competitors, so even where they do make
this kind of information available, it typically excludes a significant number
of companies which sell compatible products made by competing oem's. Another
reason that manufacturers don't like publishing reseller lists, is because that
makes it easy for their own competitors to target and poach their best
customers. As a publisher, our interest is to try to include as many companies
as possible so that our own product (this directory) is bigger and better.
- I do have interests in some marketing training companies (my wife
runs one, and works for several others) but they get more than enough business
from across the whole spread of IT manufacturers and resellers, and don't need
my help to drum up business. Feedback from that quarter would suggest that
resellers in all segments of the computer market are equally good or bad
at marketing, so perhaps I'm being unfair at focusing on the Sun segment. But
that's the one I know best. So here goes...
- 10 years ago, when I was a marketing manager in a Sun reseller company, I
too, was completely clueless about most things to do with marketing, having
started my career as a techie. I wasn't concerned about my ignorance then,
and most marketers today probably aren't concerned about their ignorance
either, because when you're seeing phenomenal growth occurring in your own
customer base, you don't have to be very good (at marketing) to survive (or
First I'd like to quantify what percentage of Sun resellers you can
actually find on this web site, compared to the estimated number of such
companies in the market. This is to support my statement that most of them are "invisible
on the web".
|Will Sun Succeed in the
For large systems,
Solaris on SPARC will continue to be a better choice than NT for many years.
These are the real reasons why...
Should Sun Microsystems
make its own brand of "Intel Inside®" PC's?
SPARC resellers - are
they important? Do we really need them? Resellers were important in the
development of the SPARC market in the 1990's. Will the web change that?
View from the Hill -
Tadpole acquires Cycle - consequences analyzed
Sun Microsystems needs
Intel and Microsoft to be successful - to fuel the insatiable demand for SPARC
Resellers in the UK
Resellers in the USA
|# of companies
listed in the
SPARC Product Directory
February 15, 2000
|# of companies in this category
|Percentage of companies which
are not listed
researching the SPARC systems market since 1991, and in the days before the web
we used to sell our worldwide database of SPARC resellers. So part of our
estimate is based on hard verifiable data about companies which are this
market, and which do not, as far as we know, have web sites. Other data comes
from other market sources we have spoken to about the size of this market. Our
definition of a SPARC reseller in this context is a business which
primarily says SPARC hardware which is made by somebody else. This
definition excludes companies which are Independent Software Vendors, who
sometimes sign up as resellers, but don't actively sell systems to anyone else.
For example we would not classify Oracle Corp as a SPARC reseller.|
||our manufacturer database is focused on the
USA and Europe. It may accidentally exclude some oem's which only market in
other regions. That's simply because we don't have the language skills
internally to reliably research and capture all these other companies.|
||companies are not
listed if:- they don't have a web site we can find, or if they do have a web
site which is difficult to find but have not taken the trouble to add their url
to this site|
If anyone has any better market size data than the table above, just
contact me. If my market
sizes are too small, I'll be delighted to learn that the SPARC systems market
is actually bigger. But that also makes the percentage of missing companies
bigger as well...
So why are most SPARC resellers so shy about promoting themselves on the
web? The cost for being added to this site is free, and even very small
low-tech, and no-tech companies seem to have no problems with setting up web
sites in other markets...
Let's look at it from their point of view.
- 1996 - they start thinking about setting up a web site... But decide to
wait, because not enough customers are using the web.
- 1997 - they still think this web thing is a good idea, but it's too
early for them
- 1998 to 2000 - now they think it probably is a good idea, but they are
nowhere on this learning curve. The average cost of setting up a really good web
site (as reported by Netb2b.com) is now
$730,000. Hey they know a lot of people in other companies who did do that, and
then a year later had to repeat the process to replace an out of date site! Not
only is that scary, but the really scary part is that they don't want to risk
setting up a simple site which will not adequately reflect the position and true
importance of their company. And also they don't want to be embarrassed when
they show it to their Sun account manager, and they compare it to
Here's the good news for anyone who works for a websiteless SPARC reseller.
- Most users surf the web while using only 1 copy of their browser.
So if they find your web site, size = 1 page, and that page includes the
information they need, then the other 999 pages which you haven't yet designed
are not relevant to them, or to you. A few years ago, one of our advertisers
Memoryx had a web site which
consisted of just 1 page:- their price list, which was updated frequently. Their
web site is a bit more complex today, but it's still got a simple and effective
- Setting up your own web site is easy. Take a look at my
web marketing bookmarks
for more information than you'll ever need about this subject.
- You can promote your company on the web effectively even without having
your own web site. For example, if you join SPARC
International ($500), or
advertise as a
reseller on this site ($1,000) you get 1 year of classified advertising
which works whether or not you have your own site. See also, my list of other
which can offer similar schemes. Another option is to just deliver a stream of
press releases about your company via the web using a service like
SourceWire. That will create
information about your company which can be found by potential customers who use
search engines which track those news feeds. Later, when you start you own site,
you can include links to those other sites, or cut and paste some of the
content to get you up and running.
Ideally, I would like to see every reseller in this market survive and
thrive, and have links in this directory. I would be very happy to be proved
I see zillions of web sites. Here are a few examples of web sites in the
STORAGE market which have impressed
me recently, which I feel I should mention here:-
list of SCSI information includes articles and reference information about
all aspects of SCSI cables and related problems. This is a company which has
invested a lot of time to help educate potential customers. In fact they have
written a new article specially for us called
LVD, SE, HVD, SCSI
compatibility - or lack of it - by Paralan. The Paralan site goes to
show that you can produce a really useful web site without using whizzy
technology in the site design. But you do have to think about the needs of your
customers and invest time and effort to give them the info they want.
There are also lots of other good examples in the SPARC market, which are
linked from this web site. I didn't want to just start listing hundreds of