Why your channel is your most effective marketing machine
There are rarely clear answers to questions about marketing. In many cases –– from crafting a message to building a brand identity –– the only way to truly know whether something’s going to work is to put it into action.
But at least one thing should be clear to you if you’re an IT vendor: The most powerful marketing tool at your disposal is your channel of resellers.
The hundreds or thousands of partners in your channel have direct access to end-buyers. They also have their trust. All you have to do is give them a message to deliver.
Of course, there’s a catch that many vendors have a hard time accepting. The most effective channel marketing programs are entirely funded by the vendor, with little to no funding or execution by the partners themselves. Some vendors understandably believe that their partners should have more skin in the game and shoulder a greater share of the marketing efforts.
The problem is that your expectation that partners will pick up the marketing slack will rarely be met, especially when it comes to lower-tier or mid-tier resellers that generally lack the time, budget and know-how to engage in effective marketing.
This disjointed process, in which you’re collaborating separately with thousands of different partners, leaves you with an incoherent brand message and makes it nearly impossible to measure the exact impact of your marketing efforts.
THROUGH-CHANNEL MARKETING AUTOMATION
Through-channel marketing automation (TCMA) is the key to conveying a clear, consistent message about your brand through thousands of disparate partners.
The relationships between partners and end-buyers is the critical link that makes TCMA so effective, since your message is being conveyed through the people who have worked closely with end-buyers to earn their trust.
Moreover, a strong TCMA strategy empowers partners to engage as much as they feel comfortable with the marketing campaign. Partners with more marketing staff and experience may take the initiative to develop their own custom content. Others will be content to largely leave your syndicated content alone. For high partner participation, however, it’s imperative, that the co-branded content include high-quality, unbiased, thought leadership so that the partner feels they are providing buyers with something of value, not just self-serving sponsored messages.
Finally, TCMA allows you and your partners to clearly view the impact of your marketing efforts on sales and assess the ROI. With the automated system in place, you can follow the leads that you direct to your partners and validate any resulting sales, allowing you to track the performance of different partners for the purposes of accountability and incentives.
THE TCMA SWEET SPOT
TCMA works for all partners, large and small, but in particular works well with mid-tier resellers. These resellers may have a robust customer list as well as strong sales capabilities to follow up on leads. However, they typically have extremely limited marketing resources that limits their ability to deliver consistent, well-crafted messaging to end-buyers. What they need to be effective is a fully-automated marketing campaign that they can distribute to their leads.
For TCMA to reach its full potential, partners that do participate should be able to count on open lines of communication and on-demand guidance from your partner support team. Again, the point of the system is to ease the burden on the partners and empower them to focus on what they do best: sell your products!
If you do it right, TCMA brings out the best in everyone involved. It combines your superior marketing expertise and resources with your partners’ extensive network of customers. The result is a formidable marketing machine.