Remember when Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) was the biggest thing to hit marketing? And then…websites, email, websitesagain, marketing automation, inbound marketing and of course social media? The stream of innovation never seems to stop flowing in marketing. Some may call it constant improvement and others simply consider it having a short attention span. Regardless of your view, marketers seem to crave change.
Web, advertising, mobile, search, social and other channels get factored into multi-channel marketing programs, but too often there isn’t a channel partner in sight.
Whether you call it multi-channel, closed-loop, omni-channel or cross-channel marketing, the concept has been given a lot of attention the last 18 months. As a former VP of Marketing Strategy at a B2B agency that served an array of clients from start-ups to Fortune 500s, I’m completely on-board with the strategy and practice of multi-channel marketing. Maximizing your marketing investment and amplifying its success is not only a sound strategy, it makes good business sense. Unfortunately, for many organizations, multi-channel marketing under-emphasizes, or even ignores, indirect sales channels.
Unless you find ways to effectively streamline and extend your marketing investments to your indirect sales partners, the overall multi-channel effort is going to be minimally effective.
How can you tell if your closed-loop marketing programs under-value your partners? It’s simple, they probably do.
What percent of your revenue comes in via your channel partners? Twenty percent? Fifty percent? Eighty-five percent? More? As a company that focuses almost entirely on helping organizations grow and advance success via channel partners, Allbound has seen the percentage vary widely.
What doesn’t vary is the disconnect between the tremendously sophisticated marketing programs suppliers develop for themselves, and the surprisingly unsophisticated ways they extend those programs to and through their channel partners. It doesn’t make sense for a majority of the marketing dollars to get spent on programs that do not solve for the channel that generates a majority of the revenue. But alas, that has become the status quo within channel partner marketing.
It seems that because of our short attention span, we never take the time to move completely through the change we foster as marketers. New ideas come, and we embrace them but move on before we’ve figured out how to make it work for our channel marketing initiatives. We never seem to get around to ‘doing it right’ or revisiting that ‘parking lot’ of ideas that include more integrated partner marketing initiatives. Multi-channel marketing pried its way into our marketing plans (or at least conversations…does anyone really plan anymore?), but it needs to account for the critical partner channel that for many B2B organizations has the most impact on revenue.
There is a new paradigm for partnering happening throughout global B2B markets, and it’s imperative for marketers to account for that shift in their multi-channel marketing strategies. I do have ideas on how to leverage partners to truly optimize your closed-loop marketing programs. I promise it will go beyond shameless promotion, but it will have to wait for another post. I’ve gone on long enough for one day.