Channel Marketers, Go Fish!
Early on in my channel marketing days I believed strongly in the old adage, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” Back then, with the right amount of training and the latest marketing tools, I expected my IT channel partners to happily and consistently promote my products.
Time and time again I was proven wrong. Partner participation was almost always embarrassingly low and after years of working in channel marketing, I finally figured out why:
MOST PARTNERS WILL NOT BE TAUGHT
Many IT resellers tend to be small businesses that are focused on providing customers with top-notch technical expertise. Their second focus is sales.
Only after tech expertise and sales are covered will partners begin to consider marketing, and many of them don’t have the time or resources to develop a meaningful marketing program. Therefore, if you truly want to drive strong, sophisticated co-marketing activity, then you need to do the work for them. This includes writing unbiased content to help them sell their broader value proposition, not just your product category.
If we’re using the fishing metaphor my advice is you need to buy the bait, rent the boat, cast the line and hook their fish.
THEN WATCH THEM REEL IT IN
You must deliver your partners thoughtful, sophisticated marketing campaigns that require little to no effort on on their part. At first this may not seem fair because you expect your partners to put some skin in the game, but our experience tell us the full-service, consistent end-to-end marketing approach will deliver you a significant and ongoing return on investment.
The ROI comes from the fact that the service you’re providing your partners is far greater than what your competitors are offering them. All they’re providing is the traditional platform, corporate assets and category messaging. They expect your partners to invest time that most IT resellers simply don’t have. That leaves you standing out because you offer a full end-to-end marketing service that only requires the partner to review the campaign before you send it. Your content is high quality and respects their messages to partner. You build the campaign around the partner and their priorities, not yours.
In our experience, when you adopt a full-service, hands-off marketing solution, your partners will actually take the time to follow-up on the leads and report sales results back to you. Now when was the last time you received timely follow-up and closed loop reporting?
Over time your partners will also be more loyal to your brand because you become fully invested in their ongoing success. Watch your share of their spending dramatically increase.
YOUR AGENCIES SHOULD STEP UP
Creating, customising and sending dozens, hundreds or even thousands of campaigns a month for your partners can seem near-impossible, but these days you can find sophisticated tech and well equipped agencies to lighten the load.
Look for a marketing solution that gives you mass-customisation, simple partner approvals and aggregated insights to help you refine your programs over time. Choose an agency that intimately understands your IT partners, establishes trust with them and produces quality content that aligns with your partner’s narrative. With the right tech and a savvy agency, you can achieve mass through-partner marketing with relative ease and low costs.
At OneAffiniti we have been busy perfecting end-to-end, mass-customized through-channel programs for years and the results are clear: channel marketing is at its best when the vendor hooks the fish. Your partners will reel it in and then everybody will have plenty to eat.