In the first part of our three-part series, we broke down the differences between the three channel marketing keywords — to, through and with — and introduced you to ‘to-partner’ marketing and its role in a channel marketing. In this second part, we’ll shed some light on ‘through-partner marketing.
What is 'through-partner' marketing?
'Through-partner' marketing involves tactics that help vendors communicate their brand message to end customers “through” their channel partners. Essentially, this type of marketing focuses on making it easier for your partners to sell your product or services. Therefore, as a vendor organization, your 'through-partner' marketing efforts should equip your partners with the right tools and resources to successfully market to the end customer. The marketing materials used at this stage typically include e-books, whitepapers, events, newsletters, and online ad placement on partner sites to generate interest in vendor products and bring leads to your partners' sales teams.
How is it different from 'to-partner' marketing?
When you’re marketing ‘to-partner’, you’re looking to engage your partners and show them the value of doing business with you. In this type of channel marketing programs, your goal it to turn those same valued partners into effective mediums to reach the end-of-the-line consumers. Simply put, in 'to-partner' marketing, your channel partners are the target audience of your marketing materials, while 'through-partner' marketing is aimed at your end-buyers.
The goal of 'through-partner' programs
'Through-partner' marketing is critical to drive mutual benefits for both you and your channel partners. But it’s important to understand, right from the beginning, that your channel partners don’t have the time, resources and expertise to create and execute effective marketing campaigns. In most cases, they will simply use marketing materials you are providing them, so if you fail to arm your partners with the right tools and resources, your message won’t reach your target consumers, and both parties lose out on leads and revenue.
How to do it right
A recent report by Forrester Research shows that while “50% of brands have implemented through-channel marketing, only 17% are fully satisfied that they are getting the most from the systems.” In fact, the most common complaints vendor organizations have with their 'through-partner' strategy are that "Our partners don’t seem to be invested enough in our efforts”, “they are not participating enough”, etc.
'Through-partner' marketing is marketing through indirect channels wherein it can be difficult to establish a solid relationship with your end customers. Your partners are a conduit of communication by way of the messages you provide them. Therefore, the very first thing you need to get right is your messaging. Here’s how you can do that.
Create content that matters. Your end-customers will be interested in what is directly relevant to them, and they will ignore anything that doesn’t bring them value. Therefore, your campaigns cannot be blatant advertisements of your products; rather, they should provide value — such as giving customers industry news, informing them about new trends, and educating them on the latest best practices and product launches.
Provide solutions. What’s bugging your customers these days? What are their pain points? Incorporating solutions to these issues in your marketing campaigns is a surefire way to generate interest.
Be consistent. Make sure your campaigns communicate the same message across all your marketing platforms. This will allow your channel partners to spread the word among your end-buyers in a way that amplifies your message and boosts your reach.
Deliver stage-based content. Creating specific content for each step of the sales cycle will effectively engage your leads and prospects depending on where they are in the sales funnel. This enables your partners to provide relevant and useful information to the right audience at the right time.
Know what your audience prefers. Just as important as crafting stage-based campaigns, it is crucial to understand what type of content appeals to different end-buyers. For instance, some customers may prefer to read a lengthy e-book or a white paper about their industry, while others may respond better to shorter and less time-consuming content like blog posts or infographics. Still, there may be others who have a preference for visual content like videos rather than text-based content. Because of this, it is advised to experiment with various subject matters and formats and see what works for you and your partners.
Get to the finish line
Crafting content and designing your campaign may be the most difficult part of a 'through-partner' program, but if your partners don’t market them to end-customers, all your efforts are wasted. Even the best materials and resources may end up collecting dust if you don’t make them easy to use for your partners. Here are some ways to do that:
Play up the benefits. Reach out to your partners directly and help them understand how easy it will be for them to use your resources and clearly state the benefits they can derive from them. This may seem obvious, but you have to remember that you are the driver - don't forget to initiate the conversation!
Be clear and concise. Design campaigns that your partners will find easy to participate in. Also provide easy-to-follow instructions in a simple, clear and concise manner. Avoid marketing jargon that partners may not understand. Remember, they won’t have time for anything that comes with a steep learning curve. Keep it simple.
Train them well. When onboarding a partner, be thorough with your training activities. Along with training them to sell your products, make sure to walk them through the exact steps of your channel marketing programs, including the 'through-partner' program, so they are prepared for subsequent campaigns.
Channel marketing can be geared to enhance your company’s visibility, your market reach, and, ultimately, your overall sales, but your success will always hinge on the effectiveness of your 'through-partner' marketing program. The tips we have discussed above will not only help you to improve your channel marketing strategy, but also empower your partners with an arsenal of resources to drive great results.
Looking to maximize your channel marketing impact and relationships? New Angle can help! Get in touch with our channel marketing strategists today to plan your way to partner success.