What Happens When You Build It — And They Don’t Come? The Case for Partner-First Channel Marketing Portals

Cameron Avery, Senior Vice President of Business Development, Zift Solutions

By Cameron Avery, Senior Vice President of Business Development, Zift Solutions

We all know the famous line from the film Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.” While that magic may work with the ghosts of baseball, it doesn’t hold up with channel partner marketing portals.

Far too many channel organizations discover this the hard way after investing thousands of dollars to stand up a partner portal. The simple fact is, channel partners won’t come to a portal just because you’ve built one. Moreover, if they do log in and discover outdated materials, disjointed assets, or collateral that primarily promotes a supplier’s brand, you can be sure they won’t come back.

Today’s channel partners are beyond busy. They are juggling more each day just to keep their own business competitive. They have more vendors and suppliers competing for their time and attention. A shiny new channel marketing portal doesn’t do much for them on its own. In fact, without the proper preparation and maintenance, your portal will quickly become just another system your partners choose to ignore.

Partner-First Portals

Technology is important and it makes good business sense to invest in leading-edge solutions with best practices already baked-in, including the ability to integrate seamlessly with established systems your channel partners already know and use.

However, to really make a channel marketing portal resonate with partners, you have to populate it with sales-enablement tools, materials and insight designed specifically to help partners learn, sell and deliver solutions while promoting their own business interests.

When it comes to marketing, this means modifying marketing assets to create channel-ready campaigns and thinking beyond data sheets. Modern digital marketing calls for microsites, dynamic landing pages, video, animation, ROI calculators and more.

Zift solutionsChannel partners need support from their suppliers, but they don’t want something just thrown over the fence. Convert assets into campaigns that tell a story – and position partners as subject matter experts. Digital creative services can help transform supplier-focused materials into partner-ready campaigns. Some channel marketing and management (CMM) providers offer partner-focused creative services along with concierge-level support to design and even execute campaigns on behalf of partners, which is perfect for those partners who need a little extra support and guidance.

Of course, there are some channel partner superstars who have marketing know-how and time to plan and launch campaigns on their own. But they are few and far between. The components that go into multi-tactic channel marketing are complex. Channel partners typically don’t have the skills or time to do this. You want to make it as easy as possible for them to do business.

Swing For The Fences

To hit a partner marketing portal home run, deliver the best technology-backed portal along with the content partners need, and be sure to go beyond the basics. Make sure the assets you’re providing tell a story that works for partners all over the world, all of whom have different skill sets.

Ideally, you want to create a one-stop-shop for all of your partners’ channel marketing needs, populated with content that resonates with partners, as well as prospects and customers. Add a bit of white-glove service to deliver truly partner-first campaigns. Then, be sure to communicate frequently with channel partners to let them know what’s new to keep them coming back for more.

Channel Marketing expert Cameron Avery is Senior Vice President of Business Development for Zift Solutions and a leader in Zift’s Channel Center of Excellence. Prior to this, he was founder and CEO of Elastic Grid, which was recently acquired by Zift.