It’s been a few years since Jay McBain, Forresters’ Principal Analyst – Channels, Partnerships & Ecosystems, called the increasing adoption of through-channel marketing automation (TCMA) the “third stage” for sales and marketing leaders.
Following the adoption of customer relationship management technology and marketing automation solutions, said McBain, TCMA “represents the next big opportunity to drive demand, to generate leads, and to basically embolden a large set of external sellers in a way that channel marketers have never done in the past.”
Without a doubt, a large number of channel-focused companies are indeed enabling partners to stay top-of-mind with customers by empowering them with TCMA solutions. As channel marketers start looking at how they will gain the same competitive advantage, here’s an updated primer on TCMA.
Channel partners act as trusted advisors within the brand-vendor relationship, significantly impacting a brand’s ability to sell products and services locally. Many brands have hundreds or thousands of local partners worldwide. This makes it challenging to execute cohesive co-marketing campaigns at scale without a TCMA program.
What Is TCMA?
TCMA is a category of marketing automation used by brands that market and sell their solutions via channel partners. Through-channel marketing automation platforms are a one-stop-shop for partners to co-market a brand’s products with a more streamlined process and increased visibility into campaign metrics.
When a brand wants to reach end buyers, it is most effective to do so through its channel partners. Throughout the process, the brand must ensure its messaging and positioning are properly communicated and maintained when its channel partners, or resellers and dealers, market its solutions or products to their customers and prospects.
Without a TCMA platform, there’s a significant disconnect between what partners need and what brands provide. Inadequate marketing support from brands can render their partners unable to generate strong sales for the brands they represent. Next to people, the most valuable asset a business has is its brand, and a TCMA platform supports both.
TCMA makes it simple for everyone down-channel to access the same brand-standard co-marketing materials. TCMA combines technology that bridge the gap between a brand’s corporate marketing efforts and the unique needs of its local partners. Providers give small business partners access to sophisticated digital marketing tools and make running digital campaigns with high-quality content easy.
How TCMA Works
TCMA offers a technology platform equipped with a suite of features. Through this platform, channel partners can easily access and customize branded sales and marketing content on-demand. Partners can then use the same platform to send and post comprehensive, multi-channel campaigns to their audience, utilizing the content provided directly from brands. Brands can define parameters for appropriate logos, content, messaging and content type that partners may use for co-branded material to ensure a consistent brand experience to potential buyers and end-customers.
The TCMA approach streamlines workflows and automates approvals, distribution and publishing. More robust TCMA platforms also include social media promotion, ABM tools, lead tracking capabilities and standard marketing tools such as subscriber management, email automation and content customization options. Through-channel marketing automation tools can help brands manage this work in a highly efficient and cost-effective manner, and they can also help partner organizations execute various tactics and strategies as they market and sell the brand’s solutions.
By offering controlled customization and brand compliance, TCMA drives local sales by giving brands control over their marketing assets and directly reaching the prospects of trusted channel sales partners. Many TCMA providers produce vital analytics by connecting preferred partners with engaged end-user data, allowing for more effective marketing communications and decreased market expenditure.
TCMA Gaining Momentum
Strategic channel marketing amplifies sales and growth for brands as well as channel partners. TCMA solutions allow brands to scale their co-marketing programs across hundreds or thousands of channel partners, driving local sales by giving brands control of their marketing assets that directly reach prospects and end customers.
TCMA gives small business partners access to sophisticated digital marketing tools and makes it easy to run digital campaigns with high-quality content. TCMA facilitates better communication between brands and partners and ensures marketing resources are applied more successfully. A TCMA solution provider can offer vital analytics by uniquely connecting engaged end-user data to their preferred partners, allowing for more effective marketing communications and decreased marketing expenditure.
Through TCMA, brands can relinquish responsibility for brand-compliant marketing materials, effectively put co-op dollars to work and garner a high return on co-marketing investment. Partners can easily create and send sophisticated brand-compliant marketing campaigns at a subsidized cost or in most cases, no cost. TCMA solves for limited partner resources by providing simple, scalable, and cost-effective marketing campaigns and marketing tools to generate new business and maintain awareness in front of their customers and prospects. A TCMA program can set a brand’s channel marketing programs apart from their competitors, while also increasing partner participation.
Highly effective TCMA programs also provide channel partners with an additional service layer, lending capabilities like custom content, audience growth, lead follow-up and marketing analytics. The TCMA/service layer combination empowers channel partners with a one-two punch to substantially elevate their marketing programs, set them apart from the competition and increase partner participation.
Sales and marketing leaders are pushing toward a post-pandemic resurgence in revenue. Now, they should be looking to strengthen and support their strategic partnerships to solidify their channels. It is critical brands support their channel partners in leveraging content, messaging, branding and demand generation. Brands now have more TCMA provider options than ever and can determine the best-suited solution for their brand and, more importantly, their channel partners.
Joel Montgomery was the founder and CEO of OneAffiniti, which was acquired by Incentive Solutions in April 2021. Following the acquisition, Montgomery assumed the role of Chief Strategy Officer for the combined group, responsible for shaping the company’s strategy towards a leadership position across the broader channel software market.