By Ed Breault, VP Marketing & Industry Solutions at Aprimo
If your organization has a distributed sales model, you know how integral channel partners can be to your growth and continued success. You also probably know how difficult it can be to engage and enable partners to take the actions necessary to drive that growth and success.
To compel partners to be more proactive, brands often exert extra attention and time to “pamper and pressure” their partners into compliance. But why do this when you can “engage and empower” your partners? To do this, partners are looking for real support—tools, content, and support to grow their business — not just marketing elements that promote your products.
If your channel support resources are stretched thin because they’re serving only a small portion of your channel partners, you are limiting your ability to develop and implement successful channel strategies. For years, brands have funneled incentives and support to their top 20% of partners. However, the greatest growth potential actually lies in the middle performers… a group that is often ignored.
These middle partners often lack marketing resources and expertise. Historically, it has been too difficult to engage and support these partners, and few brands have been able to make the case to move budget from the “tried and true” partners to the riskier middle partners.
Advances in distributed marketing technology have opened the way for brands to support and enable more of their channel partners at scale. These platforms allow you to focus your manual support resources on your top partners and those in most need of help while still empowering the rest of your channel with marketing content and easy-to-use technology.
For your more advanced marketers, provide them with the content and assets that they need to build compliant marketing campaigns that fit into their existing marketing portfolio. For your less savvy partners, provide professional, co-branded campaigns that can be easily launched without marketing expertise. If you’d like to get your more difficult-to-engage partners marketing, look for a platform that allows your partners to “opt-in” to have campaigns run on their behalf or allows the easy execution of campaigns via a mobile app.
When partners “go rogue” and generate their own marketing materials that fail to comply with brand standards, consumers receive images and messages that damage your brand. When brand standards are ignored, the brand is undermined; your channel support team spends time “policing” partner-generated materials and valuable resources are wasted. It is important to educate your channel on your brand standards and strategies so it knows how and why to be compliant.
Make maintaining your brand standards easy by providing an online, easy-to-use, integrated marketing platform with ready-to-run content that can be easily customized and co-branded to feature their brand.
Marketing through your channel can be a successful way to increase sales and grow profits, but all too often the expense and hassle outweigh the benefits. The answer is in alignment: adopting channel-marketing strategies based on a “shared success” model, which means acknowledging that both company and partner will benefit from the relationship by selling products and building both brands.
Companies should not feel compelled to pour resources into “pamper and pressure” strategies to drive performance. Instead, they should strive to invest in programs that “engage and empower” to realize a sound ROI.
Aprimo provides a range of distributed channel marketing solutions. Find more information about them here.