Marketing consistency and brand compliance are central to successful channel marketing programs. To create a uniform view of products and services, and better target end users across geographic markets, vendors and partners must take a unified approach to content marketing.
However, research from Gleanster confirms that the channel marketing gap has never been wider. According to a survey of more than 135 distributed marketing organizations, 93% said their biggest challenge was balancing the needs of local and corporate marketing.
Content creation and distribution both are daunting hurdles in channel marketing campaigns, regardless of the industry or vertical.
“A recent survey by eMarketer found that content distribution is the biggest challenge for marketers due to growth of channel and device choices,” said David Mitchel, Director of Marketing for Distribion. “One common perception is that social media was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Now marketers are simply overwhelmed trying to leverage and control the numerous marketing channels available to them.”
Shane Vaughan, CMO, Balihoo, added: “Partners face significant challenges in keeping up with rapidly changing marketing technologies and changing buyer behaviors, resulting in lost sales opportunities for both partners and national brands.”
The content delivery challenge, coupled with highly specific brand compliance guidelines, can sometimes stretch partners in terms of the resources they can devote to creating, planning and executing campaigns.
“From the vendor and brand side, we know that compliance is a big issue,” noted Dustin Ritter, VP of Marketing at MarcomCentral. “There are some partners that want to go rogue and make marketing up themselves because they don’t have enough support from the corporate side, or they just don’t care.”
Poor processes across the channel, however, is the primarily cause of poor marketing participation and performance, according to Mitchel. Organizations need to implement strategies and solutions “that addresses the needs of both sides.”
However, the key to penetrating markets effectively is delivering on the wants and needs of all partners, not just the top producers, Vaughan added. “Vendors need to do a better job of putting themselves ‘in the shoes’ of their channel partners, and providing them with the tools and guidance that will help grow their overall business.”
For vendors and brands that have hundreds — or even thousands — of partners, technology is the only way to deliver campaigns and content effectively.
Distributed marketing automation and localization solutions are coming to market to help address channel challenges and help partners and vendors meet each other in the middle.
These solutions are becoming “necessary” for any large or complex joint-marketing efforts between a company and affiliates, according to Jared Shusterman, Founder and CEO of SproutLoud. “The B2B2C dynamic with respect to creating, deploying, and tracking comprehensive marketing operations has far too many moving parts to be able to function at any kind of scale without significant automation.”
Using distributed marketing automation, vendors, brands can provide resellers, partners and affiliates with on-demand access to marketing assets. Partners can customize content, resources and turnkey marketing campaigns based on corporate rules. Once the assets are set, they can automatically generate and deliver campaigns to designated lists.
“It is really all about ease and ROI,” Shusterman explained. “Localized marketing solutions done right drive successful channel marketing initiatives for brands and affiliates alike while allowing affiliates to market themselves and the brand.”
As channel advertising budgets focus more on local events, campaigns and other initiatives, organizations will need a turnkey solution to make the content selection, customization, dissemination and reporting process seamless and efficient.
It is important to note, though, “that the model for solutions and portals are very different when you have 500 resellers, versus four or five,” Ritter said.
The more partners an organization has, the larger the struggles. Specifically, tracking and measuring local marketing performance “is a major challenge,” Vaughan said. If partners have hundreds or thousands of partners, it is “nearly impossible to get a view into local marketing programs across so many affiliates.”
However, capturing detailed data on campaign delivery and performance is one of the key ROI drivers of distributed marketing automation.
“Reporting is important because the impact of analytical data is felt throughout the organization,” Mitchel said. “For example, if corporate notices that a certain type of message is resonating in certain markets but not others, markets where that message isn’t resonating can make changes to create customized verbiage that resonates more effectively.”
Shusterman shared other data and elements vendors can and should track in their distributed marketing automation platforms:
In addition, Shusterman explained that if vendors plan to implement distributed marketing automation, they must know that “a lot of forethought goes into the upfront strategy and plan, without that, there will be no adoption.”
Following is a checklist of tasks — provided by Shusterman — to help vendors optimize their distributed marketing automation investments and overall partner adoption:
Click here to access Channel Marketer Report’s Guide To Distributed Marketing Automation to learn more about these solutions.