There is another 80/20 rule at play in channel programs. It seems that eighty percent of companies flat out don’t communicate proactively with their partners. The other twenty percent barely do.
I wish I could say I was embellishing, but the marketer in me is constantly shocked by the lack of ‘to-partner’ marketing and communications among the prospects and early stage customers we work with.
When I used to work with agency clients on their marketing strategy, I would set this simple premise: If your company has a product or service that genuinely brings value to companies, it is our job to find more of those companies to help, and then to move them toward that value.
Why should your approach to partner communications and marketing be any different?
Your Partners Are Paying Attention
On any given day, it is reported that we get exposed to nearly 10,000 marketing messages. That leaves very little, if any, attention span to divert elsewhere. In fact, at INBOUND 2016, HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan was quoted as saying, “We compete for millimeters on the infinite internet shelf.”
Translate that concept to your channel sales reps. They are constantly bombarded by messages through always-on technology. Calls, texts, emails and tweets. Colleagues, customers and prospects. Business and personal. Oh, and suppliers. Lots of them. Each of them, like you, is vying for those precious few moments of attention that an individual partner contact has to give.
In that vast sea of noise, you need to be purposeful in crafting a communication strategy that earns your partner’s attention time and time again in place of the other options in front of them.
Information Is Not The Same As Communication
So why would I advocate for more frequent partner communications if partners are already in information overwhelm? It’s simple. Information is not the same as communication.
"Information is not the same as communication."
Information is one way. It gets sent, but you never know if it has been received. It can be useful, but you never quite know if it has been used. If you only send information to partners, and they then need to decide how to use that information, you’re not communicating.
Communication, by comparison, is two-way. It should incite engagement. Communications can be measured by the action that gets taken after it’s been received.
A vast majority of partner communications I’ve seen are text-heavy emails that do little more than give partner contacts another reason to use the delete button. Too few, if any, suppliers have architected a communications program that considers the needs of their partner personas throughout the partner journey.
Humor Helps Cut Through The Clutter
When was the last time you made your partners laugh? This all comes down to marketing 101: If your audience is bored by the communication, they are less likely to be persuaded.
Many partner communications fail because of their failure to engage. Some of the most remembered marketing campaigns of all time engage consumers by evoking emotion. Emotions, when tapped into in the right way, can create positive feelings. Those positive feelings, in turn, create attraction and then engagement.
"Many partner commmunications fail because of their failure to engage."
By driving more engagement and earning attention, your partners will achieve new levels of retention for those strategies they are helping deploy in support of expanding revenue.
Need some inspiration? To often, B2B companies don’t believe there is room for humor in their marketing – for customer or partners. But the best brands know the value of a good laugh: