Creating effective content for channel partners

Forrester recently reported that consumer trust is at an all-time low. For all the work big businesses do to try to humanize their brand, enterprise is still losing the trust game.

One of the best solutions available to big businesses is to partner with channel partners who have a better chance of gaining customer trust. Because they’re interacting with customers on a smaller scale, channel partners are able to build a more direct, personal relationship with your target audience.

That relationship can really pay off. When it comes to email marketing, 64% of subscribers say recognizing and trusting the sender is the most important determination in deciding whether to open the email. OneAffiniti’s data on social shares shows that consumers are four times more likely to engage with the same content when it’s shared by a channel partner than when a vendor shares it themselves.

Unfortunately, simply partnering with channel partners isn’t quite enough. Trust is one of the most important features of TCM programs. To get the benefit of their relationship with your target audience and gain that trust and build you brand, you have to provide them with the necessary resources. Creating high-quality, relevant content is one of the best strategies you can implement for doing that. Here are a few guidelines to follow when creating content to share with your channel partners.

1. Don’t make it all about you

If you’re going to spend money creating content, it’s tempting to make it overly promotional. Ironically, that’s actually one way to lose customer trust. Some of the content you provide to your channel partners can mention your product or services, but much of it should focus more on educating their audience and helping them sell their broader value proposition.

Sales – especially B2B sales – aren’t made in a day. Be patient with your content. The value you help your channel partners provide over time will help cultivate a relationship with their customers, and develop trust such that a pitch for your product is welcomed and well-received.

2. Enable thought leadership.

Create content that will help your channel partners position themselves as thought leaders in their industry. Content that explains industry trends, addresses common problems their audience faces, and provides industry insights and data shows their followers that they know what they’re talking about. So once they do start talking about your brand or products, what they say will have more weight.

If you help channel partners that are small scale now and build them into industry experts, it will benefit you both.

3. Make sure it’s targeted to their audience.

The content you create shouldn’t be based on what you’re interested in or even what your channel partners are interested in. For content that works for you both, you have to get inside the heads of their audience to learn about their problems, priorities, and general interests.

To better understand your channel partner’s audience, create buyer personas. Craft a detailed description of who the target end buyer is, including demographic data, job details, and the kinds of interests and hobbies they have. This will make it easier for everyone on your marketing team to gain a clear picture of who you’re creating content for and how to appeal to them.

4. Use the enterprise resources you have to create value.

Your channel partners are much more limited in the types of content they can create than you are. You have a bigger budget, access to more data, and more relationships with industry professionals. Use your resources to help them provide more value.

One recent survey found that when vendors provide product claims to consumers directly, 58% doubt the information. Instead, many consumers put trust in analysts, consultants, and other third-party experts. Enlist your business partners and industry contacts to serve as expert sources in interviews and articles that your partners can share.

Further, invest in creating original research and content around it that your partners can share with their email lists. Original research is often out of reach for smaller businesses, but you can afford to provide the data-backed insights that both your partners and their followers can benefit from.

If you can provide your channel partners with things they can’t do on their own, you will further solidify the value you offer them and their followers.

5.    Emphasize hot topics on their customers’ minds.

One way to make sure your content speaks to the target audience is by focusing on topics you know they’re thinking about. Our Business IT Trends Report includes insights into the IT topics businesses are the most interested in.

One key finding: security tops the list of hot topics customers engage with. Make content that addresses common business security concerns to help your channel partner gain traction with their audience.

Creating the right content is just one step in establishing long-term channel marketing success – albeit a really important one.

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