In the third and final installment of our channel marketing series, which demystifies the three channel marketing keywords to, through and with, we’ll talk about ‘with-partner’ channel marketing. If you’ve missed our two previous posts of the series, you may want to check out the first part (on ‘to-partner’ marketing) and the second part (on ‘through-partner’ marketing).
That said, let’s start exploring ‘with-partner’ marketing and how it’s done.
What is ‘with-partner’ marketing?
With-partner marketing happens when a vendor organization works together with their channel partners to expand marketing reach, boost brand awareness, and increase demand.
Often also known as co-marketing, originally this simply involved funding the marketing activities of partners. For instance, funding a partner advertisement that featured the brand owner’s logo. Today, however, it’s much more than that. When done right, with-partner marketing enables vendor organizations to build mutually-beneficial partner ecosystems where they can jointly develop effective and powerful direct marketing campaigns.
The purpose of ‘with-partner’ programs
You’ve already communicated your value to your partners in your ‘to-partner’ marketing efforts. They know why they should partner with your organization and what’s in it for them. With ‘through-partner marketing, they become effective mediums for you to reach out to end consumers.
But that’s not all. You can push the vendor-partner relationship further by providing strategic and financial support to the marketing activities of these partners. Like through-partner programs, with-partner marketing also aims at end-buyers. The difference is that instead of utilizing your channel partnerships to reach a wider customer base, you’re seeking a collaboration that combines marketing dollars and capabilities.
This can be an effective way to stimulate partner loyalty while driving demand and sales for both the vendor and partner. For example, a computer manufacturer partnering with a processor maker may highlight their partner’s products in their own advertisements to attract customers for both companies.
The marketing actions performed at this stage include creation of collaborative blog content, co-branded websites, and social media activities to benefit both parties. With-partner marketing may also include product sponsorships in trade shows and local events, contests, and other initiatives.
When you provide a joint offering — like your product in addition to a complementing product or service by your partners — it presents a complete solution that’s more likely to generate interest in your customers.
These programs are largely based on the value each party can bring to the table. For example, if you have a prominent brand, you may lend the power of your brand to help attract leads and sales for your partner. They, in turn, can help you with their understanding of the local market and how your campaigns would be received.
Partner selection is key
Not every channel partner is going to be ideal when creating with-partner campaigns. You’ll want to find the right partners before initiating any collaborative marketing program. If this goes well, the other parts of your with-partner marketing plan could fall into place. If not, it could lead to conflicts in audience or strategic direction down the road. Here’s a bunch of questions to ask to determine if a channel partner is the right fit:
- Do they have a similar enough audience for collaboration to be effective?
- Are their values the same as yours?
- Are you both shooting for the same goals?
- Are their marketing activities aligned with your objectives?
- Will collaborating with them create more tangible benefits than your regular efforts?
If your answer to all of these questions is “yes”, then there’s a fair amount of chance that your with-partner initiative will be a success.
Empower and be empowered
In order to see positive results from your campaigns, it’s essential to ensure both parties have the requisite knowledge and resources to market collaboratively. Evaluate your partner’s marketing expertise and look for skills that your company may lack. At the same time, be prepared to offer support where they need it. For example, content creation is something many channel partners don’t have the time or resources for. Plus, sometimes, it’s far more effective for the vendors to develop and disseminate content that their partners can easily customize for their use.
You can also provide tools and expertise that would enable your partners to be effective in their execution. Supply them with high-value marketing materials, templates, and best-practice information that they would find helpful.
Highlight mutual benefits
A successful with-partner venture is the one where all parties involved can gain a strategic advantage from it. If you’re looking for increased reach or visibility through a channel partner, they will probably want something in return. With that, you should be prepared with the idea of how your content and marketing collateral will reflect the symbiotic relationship. It could be something as significant as entry into a new niche market or something that may not be as big, like the creation of high-value content that a partner can use with existing leads. By incentivizing your partners to engage in joint activities, you can increase your marketing budget as well as the effectiveness of your campaigns.
Measure and improve
Like any other marketing plan, with-partner channel marketing programs benefit from monitoring success and tweaking strategies at regular intervals.
Establish metrics, keep a track of partner activities, determine to which extent your strategic goals were fulfilled, and identify which partners met your expectations. Through an analysis of these factors, you and channel partners can collaborate to increase the impact of your joint ventures and improve them for better results.
Ultimately, by building effective with-partner channel marketing programs, both the vendor organization and its channel partner can gain substantial benefits. For partners, this often means growth and more savings, while as a vendor you get to reap the maximum potential and opportunities from your channel partner network.
As a B2B agency specializing in channel marketing strategies, New Angle Media can help you leverage your channel, broaden your reach, and boost sales. Talk to our channel marketing strategists to get started today!