Creating a culture around your brand — and including your channel partners in the inner circle — encourages vendor-based brand evangelism that increases downstream sales. Building deep-seated loyalty throughout your business channel is different from building end-customer brand loyalty. Here are some dos and don'ts for encouraging your vendors to become brand evangelists.
Do leverage user-friendly, cloud-based software for communicating with channel partners.
Nothing says "you aren't part of the group" like leaving someone out of the loop, and it's easy to forget a vendor when sending product information, warranty updates, or invitations for events. Software helps you manage communications across your channel while including partners in an online community.
Do provide support and training at an individual level for vendor employees.
American business models have been copying Japanese models for decades, attempting to integrate suppliers into brand channels in such a way that all elements of the distribution chain work together to facilitate improvements. Providing support at the employee level for partner companies helps ensure your products and services are represented according to your brand and invites loyalty at the individual level.
Do reward channel partners.
Statistics show customers value programs that reward them in various ways for brand loyalty, and you can bring that same ROI to your business channel. Reward partners at a company and individual level for performance that includes not just closed business, but also behavior-based incentives. Offer monetary, recognition, and perk rewards.
Do facilitate advertising opportunities for local and regional businesses in your channel.
Small and mid-sized businesses can't always compete in advertising arenas. Collaboration between your brand and companies throughout the channel creates more recognition and better quality advertising than any one entity could manage on its own.
Don't ignore or delay responses to your loyal partners.
When vendors have to wait days for a call back, they don't feel like an elite participant in your brand. While prioritization is often necessary, don't treat smaller partners in your channel differently than larger partners. Each partner is valuable, and small-but-loyal partners can be strong evangelists for your brand.
Don't create an "us and them" mentality between yourself and your partners.
Brand evangelism works best when vendors and partners feel they are part of the party and can invite others in.
Don't let partners pant for your product.
When partners are enthusiastic about your brand, they want to share it with others. Do your part to ensure products and services are available as needed.
Creating brand evangelists throughout your channel often comes down to common sense, courtesy, and collaboration. Reach out to your partners today to find out what you can do to make it easier for them to love your brand.