When it comes to channel marketing, you will oftentimes hear the words to, through and with.

If you have just stepped into the world of channel marketing or are simply educating yourself, those three key words can sometimes cause confusion. Basically, these words differentiate how a vendor organization distributes its products in the market.

While all three channel functions are essential to work effectively with your channel partners, each of them requires different types of resources and marketing activities, so it’s important to know one from the other. To make it easier for you, we will deal with each of them in a three parts series.

In this first part, we’ll talk about ‘To-partner’ marketing and the role it plays to drive partner sales in a channel marketing program.

What is "to-partner" marketing?

To-partner marketing is about vendors communicating “to partners” the value of doing business with them.

The whole point of this marketing effort is to show a channel partner that the relationship you’re trying to build with them is ultimately valuable for them. Simply put, when your partner asks, “what’s in it for me?”, your to-partner marketing programs should provide the answer.

Why is it important?

Besides helping partners see the real value that you, as a vendor, can provide, to-partner marketing programs can also set you apart from other vendor organizations. This is important because you can’t — and shouldn’t — overlook the fact that resellers and distributors will probably not be working exclusively with you. They could be representing any number of other vendors, and therefore, a large part of your to-partner marketing strategy is to help you to stay front and center of your channel partners’ mind. The more value you provide to them, the more they’re likely to engage with you.

Your to-partner marketing efforts don’t necessarily need to be aimed at end-of-line consumers. Instead, your channel partners are the target audience of the marketing materials, which includes newsletters, e-books, white papers, social media content, events, and online advertisements, among others.

Tips to create effective to-partner marketing strategies

Many to-marketing programs fail to achieve their goals for two reasons: 1) because your campaigns don’t resonate with your channel partners and 2) they aren’t seeing any financial benefit. Before you set out to create a to-partner marketing strategy, remember that channel partners, like most businesses, are motivated by revenue and aren’t likely to participate in a campaign that doesn’t generate more leads or drives new business to their doorstep.

Having said that, here are some tips that can increase your partner adoption.  

Set measurable goals. Your campaigns and programs should be tied with clear value, financial or otherwise. Each time you launch a new product, or solution, or launch a campaign that you want your partners to support, make sure to explain why they should care, and how they can benefit financially, or through number of leads, etc.

Enable them to drive more sales. As step further in creating more value for your partners, enable them to make the most out of your campaigns. This can be done by allowing them to customize your campaigns and marketing materials to use with their customers and prospects. This extends the value to them and helps them attract new business.

Make resources easier for them to access and use. When you make your content and marketing resources easy to find, available on demand, customizable and actionable, your channel partners are likely to put them to use and derive the intended value from them. This will increase their success rates with prospects and encourage them to participate in your programs.

Track the results. As with any marketing activity, it’s important to measure the effect of your to-partner marketing efforts. The best way to measure success is in the form of reach, for example, number of partners trained/reached. Revenue metrics, while important, are not too critical at this stage since you’re mostly focused on building awareness.

Next steps

Many of the to-partner marketing strategies that lead to increased partner adoption and mutually beneficial relationships rely on the same business principles that help companies market to consumers, like offering value and setting goals that define business success.

No matter where you are in your channel marketing journey, these tips can help to take your strategies to the next level where you can start generating greater returns on not only your investment in the channel, but also your partners’.

Are you wanting to learn more about how a channel marketing strategy can push your business to the next level? Let's talk! Contact New Angle today to speak to our channel marketing strategists to design a plan for your success.

P.S. Stay tuned for parts two and three of this series, where we'll talk about "through-partner" and "with-partner" channel marketing functions!

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