It’s fairly well understood by vendors that most channel partners have limitations when it comes to marketing. Both time and resources are usually insufficient for the sort of long-term campaigns needed, and most vendors struggle to understand what can be done to improve the situation. No wonder that only 10-20% of channel partners engage actively with vendor marketing technology platforms.
Approaches like providing partners with a portal for marketing collateral or making dedicated sales advisors available just isn’t cutting it, mostly because it doesn’t address big pain points, including cost, time commitments, brand awareness, lead generation, and gaining access to high-quality relevant content. The right approach, however, is typically one that keeps things simple for channel partners.
Below are five ways to help ‘non-marketing’ channel partners become channel marketers:
1) The 5-Minute Rule
If you’re aiming to keep things simple, automation is the goal. Today, there are technologies available that are able to automate every step in the marketing process, including building campaigns, delivering campaigns, nurturing leads, analyzing results, and more. The idea should be to utilize this technology to take care of the campaign management process as much as possible, so it takes little more than five minutes per partner, per month. We call this the 5-minute rule.
2) Limit the number of steps
You may have automated much of your own campaigns, but your channel partners likely don’t have the same capabilities at their disposal and many aren’t used to working with automation tools. When creating your processes, you’ll need to be mindful of the number of steps, tools, and customizations required from the partner. Remember, you’re not the only vendor with a partner marketing program, so the more complicated you make the process, the less likely the partner will take part.
3) Engage through content in the partner’s voice
The more that channel partners are able to stay top-of-mind with their clients, the more likely the customers are to remain loyal and provide partners with consistent business. One of the best ways that you can help them do this is by providing them with relevant, high-quality content that promotes their business to end-users. While the content can be co-marketed with the vendor, the content needs to be written from the partner perspective (and for their customer segment focus). As a vendor, focus on helping partners remain engaged with their clients by supplying content in a variety of formats, directly or via marketing solutions.
4) Nurture through regular email to partner contacts
The number of communication and promotional services has grown exponentially over the years, but email is still the (mostly) undisputed king. Make sure you help partners stay in touch with their clients and prospects by sending on their behalf a regular informative, targeted e-newsletter. It makes both vendors and partners look good.
5) Automate social sharing through Linkedin
Two-thirds of tech decision-makers say they are open to connecting with a new vendor on social media, while three-quarters say they are up for having a conversation as a result of social interactions, according to a 2013 LinkedIn study. Vendors that help channel partners share and engage buyers through social media platforms such as LinkedIn are important to partners as they enable said conversations. Any LinkedIn marketing needs to be automated: Content should be regularly posted on behalf of the partner through the partner’s LinkedIn page.
Joel Montgomery is founder & CEO of OneAffiniti, a platform-enabled marketing solutions provider.