Corrections or additions?

Author: Melinda Sherwood. Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on January

19, 2000. All rights reserved.

The Strategic Alliance: Tom Moran

Even companies like Microsoft and Sun Microsystems can’t

afford to go it alone in today’s marketplace. They, like many


companies, are relying on each other almost as much as they are


with each other for technology solutions, customers, and ideas, says

Tom Moran, marketing manager of NCS Technologies, a custom


development agency in Piscataway. "The pace at which technology

changes and evolves and the demand for technology services are so

great that there is no company that can be all things to all


says Moran, who covers "Successful Marketing Alliances" for

the New Jersey Technology Council on Tuesday, January 25, at Union

County College Executive Education Center in Cranford.

Also appearing: Michael Braun, ATX; Bill Brandt,


Alliance; Chuck Polin, president, Training Resources Inc.;


Savar, president, World Wide Web Communications; Ben


president, Quadrix Solutions; and Kevin Seiler, director of

sales, Gogh Technology. Call 856-787-9700. Cost: $40.

High-tech start-ups can leverage their client base to enter


with some of the big technology players, who in turn give name


to smaller companies, through channel marketing (an industry term

that translates to value-added resellers or manufacturers reps), says

Moran. "They ride my relationships within a targeted marketing

group," says Moran of NCS’ partner companies. "It’s all about

generating revenue by virtue of the relationship."

A former sales representative with MCI WorldCom, Moran earned a BA

in economics and English from Rutgers, Class of 1988, before joining


Today he borrows AT&T’s marketing strategy, "Gestalt


to create a Year 2000 Marketing Plan for NCS. The concept:


"Your web advertising should be related to your print advertising,

your Intranet should be leveraging your public website," he says.

"You want a consistent image. You want to make sure it’s all


each of the elements, so they’ll deliver a total marketing plan that

will be greater than the sum of its parts. You can have a 15-pronged

marketing plan, but if they’re not all interrelated, it could


Like many small custom software companies, NCS has alliances with

the big, out-of-the-box software companies like Sun Microsystems,

CE Software, and Oracle. "Oracle would like us to use their


Sun would like us to use their hardware. Likewise, if a Sun sales

rep walks into a place and they need a whole solution, they would

say we know this company NCS."

Michael Braun, district sales manager at ATX, a communications

provider in Woodbridge, suggests another partnering model: the


association alliance. "Design a grass roots marketing program

that is specific to what you’re trying to do, to enable you to sell

a turnkey solution to a council or chamber," say Braun, a 1984

graduate of Montclair State. "What they want is to add value to

their members, and having strategic partnerships like this will do


A business with strong ties to an industry organization or chamber

doesn’t need to worry as much about competition along price lines

because the affiliation itself adds value to its product, says Braun.

"If the only thing that you have is price, you’re not really


yourself," says Braun. "You’re commoditizing yourself. You’re

taking away the value. You want to try to create loyalty and long

term business prosperity and you won’t do that by doing just offering

low price."

Moran offers this advice for companies seeking out partnerships:

Research various companies and organizations to see who

is doing well and which relationships make sense. "You want to

make sure you’re not getting in bed with someone who you’re competing

with," says Moran. "You also have to make sure there’s value

for both partners in the alliance."

Expect to train or retrain employees appropriately. NCS

employees, for example, had to get certified by Oracle. "There

are certainly criteria that these companies have mapped out,"

says Moran. "The onus is on the smaller company to make it


a company that’s already attractive can afford to be pickier."

Set-up peer-to-peer meetings with partnering companies.

"The more familiar you are with your counterparts, the more


will be discussed back and forth," says Moran.

To make a partnership really effective, "you have to be

qualified, prepared, and committed," says Moran. "There are

certain thresholds you have to meet. Someone might come to us and

say if you don’t sell $2 million of our product this year you’re not

our partner next year."

"In this industry, it’s tough to be good at everything," says

Braun, "so we depend on a lot of different partners to provide

the breadth to what we’re doing."

— Melinda Sherwood

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