If you ask Tony and Vito, two of our country’s finest mobsters, there is nothing like a baseball bat to the head to get someone’s attention.

And, that is exactly what Brother Canada is trying to do with its new branding campaign. They have hired two Sopranoesque actors to portray Tony and Vito

in funny print advertising and TV commercial s about getting rid of old, inefficient office equipment for new workgroup solutions.

Building the brand in the channel against worthy competitors such as Hewlett-Packard and Lexmark will be one way to continue Brother’s five years of growth, but it will not be everything, said Shawn Snobelen, national sales manager, strategic partnerships for Brother International Corp. (Canada) Ltd. of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que.

Also part of the plan will be a new approach to indirect selling.

Snobelen said that while Brother maintains and will always have a 100 per cent channel friendly belief, he has instructed his 11 sales reps across the country to engage the end user to drive business back to the reseller channel.

“”When I started here I said that the way to success is through distribution, I was proved wrong. Later, I believed we had to go straight to the reseller. I was wrong there as well. Who else can sell Brother than Brother (employees),”” he said.

How it will work is the Brother sales reps will pass the leads in that particular region back to the reseller and then those orders will be fulfilled by a number of Brother distribution partners.

Brother currently has Ingram Micro, EMJ Data Systems, and Taknology as it main distributors, but Snobelen said he has signed another distributors to focus on the mid-size business in Canada. While the distribution agreement has been finalized, Snobelen was unable to name the distributor because of communication reasons.

Brother also has Horizon Data Supply, Azerty, DaisyTek and Atlantic Work Pro as distribution partners.

Recently Brother closed a 1,000 unit deal with Shell Canada, were the sales reps passed this business in thirds across the country to different resellers.

Also, the market dynamic is changing for workgroup solutions. In the past, companies such as Shell would make one huge buy. Today, individual managers who have smaller workgroups make these purchases. Their needs might differ from the rest of the company, Snobelen said.

Brother’s line up includes stand-alone and shared work group printers and departmental printers along with multi-function copiers.

“”Hook your employees up with the tools they need, in one convenient package. I think you should do it now,”” said Vito.

Tony on the other hand said: “”Close at hand reduces wasted productivity without sacrificing speed or quality. Capiche?

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