By Jeff Mesnik, CEO, ContentMX
As a technology marketer, you know that building demand generation campaigns takes planning and coordination. Your message is deliberate and coordinated and the sequence and timing of communications are relevant and important.
Demand generation is filled with both long term and short term strategies, all for the purpose of identifying and qualifying prospective customers. You do this through an integrated approach that includes various forms of inbound (SEO) marketing, email marketing, social media, and content marketing. The leads that come from these efforts are then scored in terms of their value to the organization and passed along to the sales team for prioritization and follow up.
Following the Customer Journey
A demand generation campaign is designed to address the Customer Journey as mapped by the marketing team:
When the marketing team develops a campaign, they think about customers at each stage in the Journey, starting with awareness. Tactical programs and campaigns are scheduled on a marketing calendar and targeted to each stage. The campaigns are designed to establish points of connection and opportunities to begin a conversation.
As you see, the entire process of running a demand generation campaign requires planning and tools. It also requires time and resources. However, channel partners often never see these detailed marketing plans. And even if they did, very few have the time and resources to actually deploy them on their own.
The challenge is to provide the channel with what is often called “marketing in a box” in a way that campaigns can be launched easily and achieve the greatest results.
It is fairly traditional for channel marketers to provide marketing materials to their partners through a resource center or asset library attached to their partner portal. This library of materials can be navigated by category and can include many flexible customization options. This approach, while comprehensive, can also be daunting. Partners are lost in a sea of assets and these assets often lack context within the customer journey. In this way, demand generation campaigns can become disjointed and mishandled as they are implemented by busy partners.
The next step in marketing through channels is to provide a more active and prescriptive approach to how partners should promote your products and services. This is achieved through a combination of content and system design. Partners are able to follow along with a demand generation campaign that you create, promoting the content and marketing materials you provide. Each partner receives a series of structured weekly engagements which they can easily share with their prospects using different communication channels including websites, blogs, email, and social media.
A weekly email digest is used to highlight the content being presented that week. It includes context and a theme which helps connect the campaign elements together. Instructions within the partner portal can further explain the information to be published, educating the partners on how to best explain the core benefits of your products and services along with advice on how to close a sale.
In addition to the weekly structure, a prescriptive partner marketing campaign should:
For channel partners, marketing often takes a back seat. They often lack the time to search through portals or to build out sophisticated campaigns. With a prescriptive campaign, partners can recognize an immediate benefit from following the campaign elements and the timing. The regularity and quality of partner marketing are changed for the better.
The success of a partner marketing program is also determined by how easy it is for partners to access and distribute the campaigns they are being provided. The step-by-step approach provides focus and ease of use.
The system that drives the partner marketing campaigns needs to be simple yet powerful. This power is derived from the multiple communication channels and content formats that are supported along with the lead reporting and analytics that are provided. Partners come to appreciate the potential of the marketing tools you provide and the barriers to getting the marketing done are removed.
Remember that the key to marketing through channel partners is that they are advocates for selling your products and services. The partner branding is an important way that you further validate your own corporate brand. The personalization options should include the use of the company name in customized blog articles and social media messaging along with logos and banners used on landing pages and in email messages.
The success of any channel marketing program is based on its ability to align partner efforts with your corporate mission and to help partners build new business opportunity. To this end, it is important to communicate your expectations and measures of success through the setting of goals and clear benchmarks. For instance, how often should partners be posting marketing content and how much activity should they be generating? How is the partner doing in comparison to its peers? Partners will be motivated by the goals you present. It provides them key target metrics, that when followed will provide the best results from the campaign.
A successful partner marketing program recognizes the partners’ business needs, and supports them with programs and campaigns that not only will increase product sales but improve a partner’s total business.
A prescribed and personalized channel marketing model is a new paradigm in channel marketing, and one that is supportive of both the goals of the partners and the vendors.