When it comes to channel marketing, it’s up to you to provide your partners with the content and materials they need to easily sell your product. After all, they don’t have the time or resources to create content about your brand.
From aligning expectations to building relationships, you need to put in the legwork to establish sustainable, successful partnerships. What’s equally important, however, is your ability to develop content around your customers and measure results. To help build an effective channel marketing strategy, refer to these five tips.
1. Align Business Objectives
Channel partners are not your employees. Some marketing teams nevertheless still treat them as such. Unlike your internal team, partners have different strategic goals. Consequently, your infrastructure must account for your partners’ goals and how each individual fits into your overall organizational ecosystem.
For starters, this means having a clear, concise business strategy. To ensure mutual success, both parties should explicitly outline quantifiable goals. Obviously, you want your partners to succeed within your established parameters. Focusing on your partner’s business and aligning goals around what your partner needs help ensure mutual, ongoing success.
2. Put the Customer First
Content serves many purposes in the channel. However, at the end of the day, your focus should be on solving customers’ pain points with useful content. Think about it. If customers aren’t engaging with your content, it’s for nothing. Therefore, putting your customers at the center of the development process should be your overarching marketing goal.
One way to ensure consistency is by regularly interviewing end users to learn about their needs and preferences and subsequently creating content around these issues. You don’t know what your clients know. It’s your job to be able to extract that information and translate it into effective content. To properly interview a client, immerse yourself in their business. Read any information you can obtain and extensively research the company.
The more pointed your questions are, the better the results will be. Once you know whom you want to sell to and why, it’s time to think about the how. You’ve identified the ideal buyer; now it’s time to create marketing materials that tell this story.
3. Build Relationships
Managing a group of in-house employees is one thing. Managing a remote team of channel marketers spread throughout the country is another. No matter how small your channel is, conflicts can and most likely will arise. They’re inevitable in any collaborative relationship, especially when working with outside parties.
Partners need more than a portal to grow. They need active, relevant resources that address their needs and a platform to voice these concerns. Partner sales acceleration tools work to draw in your channel with not only usable, but also rankable and shareable content. The best tools also build relationships by fostering communication to allow channel partners to chime in and contribute to your channel’s conversations—no matter where they’re located.
4. Make Your Partners Brand Ambassadors
Building effective partner communication through social media enables businesses to access new ways to promote and differentiate their brand. The most obvious method is to have partners promote your brand through their own social networks. Whether you have a channel of 50 or 500, it’s a given that your diverse group of partners has an entirely new network.
Making your partners brand ambassadors is a win-win situation. Partners win because they don’t have to put in extra effort to locate content. Vendors win because they can leverage a new network to amplify their brand. Plus, by making content available for partners to share and providing an opportunity to own what they share, you are building trust.
Content is authentic, your partners are engaged, and you’re able to push relevant, timely content to a large audience.
5. Measure Results
Think that measuring the effectiveness of content is impossible? Think again. As we’ve mentioned before, engaging content is useful content. Lucky for you, measuring engagement is entirely possible and can drastically inform your channel strategy.
Like any KPI that focuses on a sample of data, content engagement is an average of the percentage of content being used by your partners. The metric measures exactly how your content is being used and consumed. Rather than silo your sales and channel marketing strategies, this KPI aligns teams with content that’s shareable and usable.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to incorporate tools and technology into your channel marketing strategy. The best tools enable marketing managers to see content usage in real-time, which allows them to create an iterative content development process built around the unique needs of both their partners and their customer.