When it comes to marketing, how should the relationship between you and your channel partners be defined? That word partnership is key: in an ideal world, you’ll be providing the support required for your channel partners to maximise sales but without having to go so far as effectively running their campaigns for them. To make best use of your resources while still putting your partners on the right footing for success, here are some points to bear in mind…
Don’t waste time and effort on a partner who is not going to fit your corporate model
Sirius decisions looked in detail at the issue of partner alignment. The company flagged up the tendency among some vendors to sign deals with partners without giving adequate thought to whether their culture, expertise, vertical markets and level of support on offer is a good fit for the product in question.
This is an important issue from a partner marketing perspective too. Much of your focus is likely to be on re-purposing (i.e. tweaking) marketing materials to match the profile of your partner. If you have to start from scratch because the partner’s way of operating is totally at odds with your’s, - or even worse, if the partner does not seem to ‘get’ your product, you could find yourself ploughing a lot of time and resources into the relationship with little payback.
Pool your resources and work out who is responsible for what
You should already have built up profiles of end users (i.e. buyer personas). When you qualified and chose your partners, you should also have built up a clear idea of which personas and markets those partners are going to be in a position to target. Now it’s a matter or working out what those partners need from you in order to execute their campaigns successfully.
A well-defined marketing funnel is crucial here. Broadly, this consists of an awareness stage where the focus is on answering common concerns of leads, a consideration stage where your product is positioned as a solution to the lead’s problems and a decision stage where there is much greater focus on the product.
What content is going to be presented to leads at each stage of the funnel? Who is going to be responsible for producing this content? You might have a bank of case studies, white papers, demos, webinars and other materials already. Rather than sending over a job lot of such material to your partners and leaving them to get on with it, liaise closely with your partners to determine how such material might need to be re-packaged to meet their needs. Can they do this themselves or are they going to need assistance?
Your partner’s marketing campaign is likely to consist of elements of paid, organic and social content. As Altimeter Group highlighted, there can sometimes be a tendency to treat these elements in isolation, whereas the reality is that they work in concert, allowing your partners to reach leads in different ways at different stages of the buyer journey.
A targeted approach to marketing resources involves ensuring that all of this provides a consistent narrative, look and feel. For instance, if leads are being given a markedly different ‘story’ about what your product is all about via LinkedIn compared to what it says in your landing pages and white papers, the overall message is going to be inconsistent and confusing.
Smart use of resources requires you to get to grips with what your partners need to succeed to to evaluate and monitor their campaigns to ensure the message stays on track.