By Jon Whitlock, Director, Channel Marketing, Kaspersky Lab North America
It’s true that many VARs often face limited capabilities and bandwidth when it comes to marketing their companies. In fact, recent numbers show that fewer than 10% of B2B resellers have dedicated marketing employees. That’s a high percentage of partners that aren’t fully equipped with the proper resources to run effective marketing campaigns. However, it’s the perfect opportunity for the vendor to step in and design campaigns and programs to help ensure that partners are moving the needle on their own businesses. So how can vendors do that?
One key factor in helping partners market is to facilitate their relationship with their customers and target audiences so they are viewed as a trusted advisor. It’s crucial for their prospects and customers to come to rely on them as a first stop for the most up-to-date information about the industry and to trust them to provide the right information and solutions, whether it’s insight, research, guidance, etc. One way to do this is through social media.
We’ve had tremendous success in using a social media syndication platform for partners — we’ve actually seen a 200% increase on usage month over month since we launched our own program about three months ago. The content shared on the platform is key. It should come from un-biased sources and top-tier industry publications and thought leaders, not just about or by the vendor. Make the content available for partners to send out through their own channels to their followers, so the content is coming from them, not the vendor. This puts them in the spotlight as a trusted advisor, sharing valuable and timely content.
Going back to the fact that fewer than 10% of resellers have dedicated marketing employees, vendors need to make marketing easy and convenient for them, keeping in mind that they most likely don’t have the bandwidth to execute, let alone create campaigns or initiatives. One way to make marketing easy for the partner is by creating turnkey campaigns in which partners can find and choose themes, content and supporting services that best suit their needs. This might be cobranded assets, thought leadership or multi-media content and/or telemarketing services, to name a few.
Taking this idea a step further, partner marketing — partners themselves — are not one-size-fits-all. A campaign or an asset that works for one partner might not work as well with another partner. Partner marketing campaigns should be customizable and based on individual partner’s needs. It’s important that vendors remember that and give partners the opportunity to weigh in and ultimately plan their own campaigns. Back to the social media example above, we provide multiple channels based on content type that the partner decides whether (or not) and when to use.
So where should partners find all of these marketing resources? A perfect place is the partner portal. The portal should be a partner’s go-to resource for lead generation assets and materials — so it’s important that the portal is easily accessible and contains all the materials and tools a partner could ask for in a single location. Content should be geared toward the challenges customers are facing and provide solutions to overcome those challenges.
When tied into current issues customers are facing — like mobile security, for example — short videos that demo a particular solution are extremely popular with our partners, as well as industry analyst reports. Having a central repository for all campaigns, that is easy to navigate and search by campaign theme and type, will help partners up their marketing game. When customers are facing a challenge, regardless of what it is, and the partner can find the messaging and campaign assets needed to demonstrate they understand the issue and have the solution, it provides them with the ability to drive new opportunities for business.
Of course, demand generation is only as good as the sales support that follows in efforts to convert resulting leads into sales opportunities. So it’s also important that the partner portal has a mobile component, as well. Mobile access to sales tools is invaluable for partners that are constantly on the go. A mobile-ready version of the portal is where partners can access all the information and content as the online portal regardless of where they are via their smartphone or tablet, extending easy access to resources when they need it most — like right before or during a customer meeting. By providing partners with the same content across platforms, partners will never miss an opportunity to knowledgably interact with their customers and provide accurate and timely solutions.
When designing partner marketing campaigns, it’s critical to consider that:
With these key points in mind, channel marketers are sure to create effective and seamless campaigns to drive optimal success for partners.
As Director of Channel Marketing at Kaspersky Lab North America, Jon Whitlock is responsible for driving Kaspersky Lab’s channel programs and increasing partner engagement.
Whitlock brings over 15 years of marketing, sales and business development experience with software companies, information security services providers and national VARs and MSPs. Prior to joining Kaspersky Lab in 2012, Whitlock held senior marketing positions with Brainshark, a cloud-based video platform and CBE Technologies, a national managed services provider and information security consulting firm.