Channel leaders and partners are generally aligned on strategies to address the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on their businesses, according to two recent surveys by The 2112 Group, a business strategy and research firm. While the vast majority of channel leaders are committed to leaving their marketing budgets unchanged, partners plan to be more aggressive.
Responding to a mid-March survey, only 6% of channel leaders said they plan to increase their marketing budgets in 2020. Polled a week later, almost half of partners said they are boosting their marketing programs to retain customers and attract new accounts. A quarter of the partners surveyed said that generating sales leads would be one their biggest challenges for the remainder of 2020. Developing new marketing campaigns topped the list of things-to-do to drive post-pandemic recovery.
Vendors agree that marketing campaigns and a return to live events will support post-pandemic recovery. As of last month, the majority of channel marketers (53%) were confident that they will not be hamstrung by budget cuts. Only 9% said their marketing budgets were significantly decreased. Most brands (54%) were holding the line on reducing MDF programs. But while 9% said they were offering more MDF to their partners, 8% said they would significantly decrease their allocations.
Channel incentive funding will mostly remain intact, said 84% of the vendor respondents. Only 6% of the channel professional said incentive funding would be reduced.
A significant number of channel leaders are moving ahead with investments to better manage and support their partners. Almost half will invest in partner portals; 39% will implement learning management systems, and 29% said purchases of through-channel marketing automation tools will be made.
The COVID-19 Impact on the Channel and COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on Channel Partners reports provide more detailed information on how channel leaders and partner executives are responding to the crisis. The 2112 Group is offering the reports on a complimentary basis to make the data available to the greatest number of channel community members.