For those in the B2B space, channel marketing — promoting products or services through a network of distributors or resellers — is an effective way to boost their reach and revenue, along with that of their channel partners. But word of mouth and vendor programs alone are not enough to generate the desired results these days. With the advent of social media and other digital platforms, the game for channel marketers has changed dramatically.
Unlike direct marketing, which targets customers, channel marketing is targeted at both groups, channel partners and end-buyers. An effective channel marketing strategy, while essential, can be challenging to create, given the multitude of internal and external considerations such as shrinking budgets, vague or undefined program goals, and resource constraints, to name a few.
90% of channel marketing leaders believe that a poor channel marketing strategy can hurt brand image, according to an IDG survey. The same survey also pointed out that 76% of respondents consider the right channel marketing strategy to be a strong competitive advantage. So how do you stay ahead of your competitors with a strategy that works for you as well as your partners?
Don’t Overlook your Business Goals
Unfortunately, vendor organizations and their channel partners are often misaligned. It’s true that for a channel marketing strategy to generate demand and leads, it’s crucial that your strategy and business objectives relate to those of your channel partners. While attempting to do so, many vendors overlook their own business objectives and whether the partner will meet those objectives. This may lead to conflicts down the road.
If your company works with channel partners, your channel marketing strategy should be focused around driving desired partner performance, but in a way that furthers mutual business goals. That’s why understanding and defining your objectives is a valuable step in setting up your marketing strategy. To define your goals, look for answers to questions such as:
- How much revenue do you plan to generate and by when?
- Which of your markets are best performing? What gives you an edge in those markets?
- Where do you want to expand?
- Which industries do you specialize in?
Know your Audience
One of the keys to channel marketing success is providing trustworthy, shareable resources that solve problems and meet the needs of your partners that they, in turn, can share with their own networks. To achieve this, you must have two things in your sights: 1) your resources should deliver value to your customer and 2) the right tone, voice, and of course, relevant value propositions and marketing messages are critical to strike a chord with your channel partners.
Make it Easy for Them
In addition to being relevant to your channel partners, your marketing materials and activities must be the least time-consuming as possible. Anything that takes a long time for them to understand and/or utilize will often get pushed to the back burner.
You should also remember that resellers and distributors may not be exclusively working with you and there probably are other vendor organizations they represent as well. Companies that make it easier for partners to sell their solutions and grow revenue stay on top of their mind.
Make Co-Branding Part of Your Content Strategy
Many companies try pushing the marketing materials meant for their end-buyers down to their channel partners, without much success. This doesn’t work most of the times because your channel partner wants to — and should — be a part of the sales mix.
Co-branding your product messaging and content (such as product pages for the website and email newsletters) shows that you are interested in helping your channel partners grow. It also gives them an added incentive to communicate the benefits of your offerings to prospective customers.
Monitor and Measure
Like every other type of marketing, channel marketing thrives on your ability to objectively measure your success and tweak what’s not working. Besides, it’s also important to leverage partner management tools and incentives, such as Marketing Development Funds (MDF) or co-op dollars to monitor a partner’s ability to reach targets and reward achievements to keep them motivated.
Work with the Right Team
Most vendors lack adequate marketing resources to support their channel partners and relying on resources created by traditional marketing firms is simply not enough when it comes to driving channel selling. That’s where the need for a specialized channel marketing agency like New Angle Media comes in.
Our channel marketing services are aimed at improving partnership communications and enabling vendor organizations to transform the way they market themselves to, through and with their partners.
Want to build a successful channel marketing strategy? Get in touch with us to learn more about how we can help you develop and execute a winning strategy through our channel marketing services.