If you've been a marketing or sales professional for the past decade, you'll have noticed how immensely the digital landscape has changed. Even the past five years have witnessed a tremendous paradigm shift in how all types of buyers use mobile devices to make purchasing decisions.
This new normal, in which companies have mere seconds, or "micro-moments," to capture and hold a consumer's attention, is shaking up the entire marketing process, and it's critical that you and your channel partners meet the challenge head on. In 2011, Google revealed what it called the Zero Moment of Truth, referring to the precise, need-driven moment when purchasers seek information online, to a growing extent on their mobile devices and often with the intent to purchase a good or service.
Most recently, Google expanded on its concept of micro-moments, separating them into four key stages that represent the full range of prospect and customer needs:
Before we take a closer look at each of these, it's worth asking yourself if your channel marketing framework is prepared to handle the real-time demands of such a fast-paced market. Will you and your partners be able to leverage this new knowledge to drive sales?
Information drives sales in the modern marketplace, even in the world of B2B. When a senior IT executive gets tasked with updating the company's aging network hardware, her first destination will probably be Google. She likely won’t make a purchase right away, but she will remember whichever company that provides high-quality information and a great value proposition. This company might be yours, or it might just be one of your partners.
More and more, this micro-moment is shaping up to be the pivotal stage for earning a consumer's trust. It represents the start of a customer journey that, with the right direction, will translate into sales. It's important that you deliver the right training, sales tools and marketing materials to your partners, preparing them to deliver a highly-tailored set of information to the buyer in this critical moment of need.
Even in the information age, companies do plenty of business locally. Think of the machine shop that purchases metal from an metfab distributor in the city, or a brand new bank location that sources office furniture from a local retailer. The internet has made it easier to purchase things from all over the world, but it's also made our local marketplace, including your partners, much more accessible.
Being your brand’s presence "on the ground," your partners own the relationships that create and foster trust with customers and prospects who use your solutions. Your role is to augment their capabilities, building up their local profile through proper training, certification and thought leadership. The modern marketplace isn't static, and your channel marketing strategy shouldn't be either.
Going back to the first example, the customer's experience with your partner doesn't always (and shouldn't) end with the purchase. Here is a difference between buying and applying. Partners need to be able to do more than just articulate your value proposition. They need to help prospects understand how your solutions will successfully get applied to their business.
Generating additional value through installation, onboarding and support services will build brand loyalty and contribute to what some have coined the Ultimate Moment of Truth. That’s the moment when a customer shares her experiences with your solutions online — often a make or break scenario as to whether there is a chance to close the ‘next deal’ with that customer.
As mentioned above, the initial purchase isn't the end of the customer experience. Through their implementation, application and use of your product, customers will discover new needs and considerations that will have them scouring the internet. In those moments, you don’t want customers seeking information which then gets satisfied by a competitor. It's crucial that your partners stay top-of-mind throughout the customer experience.
[bctt tweet="It's crucial that your partners stay top-of-mind throughout the customer experience."]
When given authentic marketing materials, including post-sale communications, your partners will entice, inform and create the right climate for renewals and repeat purchases.
So if your channel marketing strategy has been on autopilot until now, it's time to retake the reigns — the clock is ticking.