Content is a proven sales and retention tool, but there are three significant challenges to using content in your partner program.
1. Creating quality content that helps partners and customers make decisions.
2. Making sure content is seen by the right people at the right time.
3. Understanding that channel marketers may need to create content to bring on new partners, to help those partners sell, and to help end users be successful.
There are a lot of factors at play, which means that a comprehensive strategy is a must.
Content can be the foundation of a great partner program, assuming you nail a few fundamentals. Here are our suggestions for making the most of your content-creation efforts:
1. Turn your sales reps into teachers.
Empowering your reps is the simplest way to think about content creation. This framework encourages content creators to think through a few important questions before creating something new. It also means your reps will be more likely to leverage content in their work.
2. Commit to letting your reps dictate a theme that content creators can address for a month or a quarter at a time.
Make their lives easy by asking the right questions, planning a content calendar, getting their feedback on the posts, and making sure the content is easy to access.
To facilitate a conversation that results in plenty of good content ideas, here are a few questions to ask your reps:
- What questions are asked often? How can content address those topics with anecdotes, data, visualizations, etc.?
- How will the content be delivered? Do you prefer that it be hosted on a blog, in a PDF, or through another medium, like email, audio, or video?
- How informed is the reader? Do they need basic education or a nitty-gritty explanation?
- Will the content be skimmed during a call or read in-depth later? How can the format of the content encourage engagement?
Aligning with your reps is the first step in any successful content initiative. Until your reps are bought in, don’t expect content to make an impact on your bottom line.
3. Address the entire funnel.
In partner programs, content is often used for sales enablement. It’s a tool that supports the rep in the final stages of a deal. One easy way to get more from content is to create it for the entire funnel, from discovery to a done deal.
Here’s an overview of what content should accomplish at each stage of the funnel, along with how it’s likely to be discovered. Note: This applies to partners and customers alike.
If you are currently using content to address just one stage of the funnel, consider how an expansion could create better opportunities for your reps. Partners who discover you via content and are nurtured via content are more likely to be receptive to content in the final stages of a deal. Content also helps establish your company’s voice and make the case for your product. The earlier this happens, the better.
4. Build distribution into your strategy.
What exactly do we mean by content distribution?
Distribution is how, when, and where content is discovered and consumed. Depending on the target audience, it may make sense to create case studies in a PDF format or in a listicle that’s optimized to rank in organic search results; it really depends on the goal of that particular piece.
Ask your content creators to go through this simple Mad Libs-style exercise.
*This . . .*
article/case study/webinar/e-book/white paper
*will be read by . . .*
*because they are . . .*
educating themselves/considering a new solution/ready to close a deal
*and should be packaged as a . . .*
*and delivered via . . .*
This will likely prevent some content from being created in the first place. And that’s okay—after all, the time and money you spend creating content are valuable only if people read it.
5. Address topics for sales, support, and end users.
If you are eager to create more content but aren’t sure exactly what to write about, it’s time to sync up with your sales and support reps, as well as your end users. Getting insight from the people on the ground makes it easy to come up with all kinds of topic ideas. Here are some thought-starters to get you going:
Questions for sales:
- What assets do you wish you had during the sales process?
- What questions come up over and over again?
- Are there statistics or visual aids that would help you sell?
- Are there external resources that you often point customers to?
- Are there things about our product/service that seem to confuse potential partners?
Questions for support:
- What issues do partners/customers have over and over again?
- Are there gaps in onboarding that could be addressed with content?
- Do customers ever mention content, by us or other companies, that they enjoy?
- Is there information that you wish partners and customers knew before they came onboard?
Questions for end users:
- How did you find our product/service?
- Is there information about our product/service you wish you knew earlier?
- Are there things you find confusing about our product/service?
- Are there blogs/webinars/e-books from other companies that you’ve enjoyed?
Content is an excellent investment in your company, but it’s only as good as the strategy behind it. Spend the time to understand the reader, the channels, and the delivery method—the results will speak for themselves.
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