ATI Technology Inc.’s leading system builders and distributors will have a bigger say in how marketing funds they earn will be spent under a new program to be announced next month.

But some partners who think they’re in the top ranks may

be surprised, as the company is still defining who qualifies.

The marketing plan is a global expansion and enhancement of the existing program for the graphics company’s Tier 1 partners, which has been limited to North American partners.

According to Toshi Okumura, ATI’s senior business development manager, the company gave integrators limited options on how marketing development funds (MDFs) could be spent.

But under the new program company reps will meet four times a year to discuss and co-ordinate with its top integrators and distributors the company’s marketing strategies and make use of MDFs for ATI-branded promotions from contests to print advertising.

“”We may sponsor an industry event or a sporting event and bring that opportunity to one of our partners to possibly be there to increase their exposure,”” said Okumura.

“”We’ve opened it up to get creative on the things we can do because a lot of our Tier 1 partners have very good ideas on how they can promote their products,”” he explained.

“”It’s flexible, it’s customizable and it caters to individual needs on an account by account basis,”” added Sam Saif, ATI’s national account manager.

He said the company has some 150 Tier 1 integrators or distributors around the world, and about 10 in Canada.

However, he wouldn’t identify them or be specific about the number. “”We’re looking at various criteria to apply. That number’s not determined yet.””

Among the bigger integrators in Canada are MDG Computers Canada Inc., Mind Computer Products and Seanix Technology Inc.

Dragoslav Minic, MDG’s marketing manager, said he was pleased with a reporter’s outline of the new program. “”If they’re putting back money they make to people who make money for them selling their product”” it’s good, he said.

In another major enhancement, a reference design purchase program will be added to the ATI partner portal, allowing integrators to buy limited numbers of products at 30 to 40 per cent off retail price to help them build the company’s technology into their goods.

“”For higher end products cost is significant to a smaller system integrator,”” said Okumura. “”We’re trying to help them reduce their costs.””

But buyers will be limited to two of each ATI product a year. “”The last thing we want is people buying 50 or 60,”” he said.

The portal will also be the place where partners can use MDFs to buy give-aways like hats, pens and T-shirts, as well as download marketing and advertising templates for publication, brochure or Web use.

“”We’ll help them make sure their messaging is tight,”” said Okumura.

Not all of the improvements are for Tier 1 partners. Those who aren’t big enough to fit under that umbrella will be designated Tier 2 players and can take advantage of the expanded channel technical support for product, which includes a 12-hour day-time phone line and a contact number for off-hours help. A member of the dedicated support team is always on call, Okumura said.

But under the new program support will include not only ATI graphic cards but motherboard products as well.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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