Three Major Challenges That Stop Channel Partners From Marketing
In late 2018, OneAffiniti commissioned a survey of 100 brands and channel partners by Forrester Consulting, the internationally-renowned market research agency. In a series of blog posts, we will examine the key findings of the Forrester study, such as:
- The persistently low utilization of brand-provided through-channel marketing platforms
- The importance of incentives in motivating channel partners to conduct marketing
- The important role that services play in driving partner engagement
- The high demand from channel partners for digital marketing solutions
In this post, we’ll focus on the biggest challenges that Forrester found are preventing channel partners from executing through-channel marketing campaigns.
The great majority of channel partners are SMBs that do not have dedicated marketing staff. Thus, the burden of marketing falls on employees whose interests and expertise are usually not related to marketing.
It’s therefore not surprising that 52% of partners cite a lack of marketing staff as a challenge in executing campaigns with brand-provided marketing platforms, while 22% say it’s a “significant” challenge. Because most partners don’t have in-house marketing professionals, it’s critical that brands provide TCM platforms that laypersons find easy to use. Brands must also proactively offer partners direct assistance to ensure they understand how to effectively engage in marketing.
Fulfilling the core mission of their business –- sales and customer service –– takes up almost all of the time available to employees of SMB partners. A large percentage of channel partners (32%) say that a lack of time represents a challenge that prevents them from executing TCM campaigns.
In this time-constrained context, there is a huge difference between a user-friendly TCM platform and one that partners struggle to navigate or figure out. If partners can get what they need from the platform in less than five minutes, they are much more likely to consistently execute campaigns. If it takes much longer than that, a significant portion of partners will not use the platform.
For the reasons stated above, partners are not in a position to craft their own high-quality content. That provides a major opportunity for brands to offer high-quality content that is co-branded with channel partners. However, that is an opportunity that many brands are clearly missing out on: the Forrester survey found that 55% of partners cited a lack of co-branded content as a challenge, while 25% called it a significant challenge.
A good digital marketing campaign should include a mix of content, including objective thought leadership that can appeal to buyers at different stages of the purchasing cycle. Simply providing content promoting the brand’s products isn’t good enough. Brands should strive to provide more premium thought leadership as well as content that appears to come from the perspective of the partner, rather than the brand. That type of material is much more likely to appeal to partners and ultimately, is more likely to help them connect with end-buyers.
Explore the Forrester study further
Brands do not need to accept that so few of their channel partners will take advantage of their marketing platforms. Low utilization should not be a given. Instead, it is a symptom of flaws in how brands are trying to engage with partners. If you’re interested in further exploring the findings of the Forrester report, including how brands can improve the situation, check out the Forrester report in its entirety or take a look at the four additional articles we’ve published examining some of the study’s most significant findings. The next article focuses on the major challenges that partners face in executing marketing campaigns.