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Channel Partner Marketing Activities: Best Practices + Example Strategies
December 19, 2021
Channel marketing activities are increasingly valuable within hyper-competitive verticals like technology and software. For companies that rely on partners to generate the lion share of revenue, this is the perfect time to create new channel marketing strategies. 

The objective of any channel partner marketing campaign is to generate awareness, gain trust, and acquire more customers. As a channel leader, you can accomplish these goals by highlighting the ways that your partnership adds value to the end customer. Channel marketing should communicate how you and your partners deliver a superior shared experience to the end customer.

The following guide provides strategies and general best practices to help you strengthen your channel marketing. 

Define Creation of brand guidelines

Every element of your marketing materials and promotional strategy should speak to your brand and your audiences. Therefore, take steps to ensure that your partners know how to properly represent your brand.

Detail your ideal customer as it relates to channel partners

Every marketer knows that knowing the products’ end-users forwards and backwards is essential to creating a comprehensive strategy. However, the prospects Direct Sales proactively targets could differ from those pursued by your partners. After all, it’s common for companies to rely upon partners to branch out into new countries. 

Channel Marketing Best Practice: Define key differences between your normal customer base and new opportunities. For example, as detailed in Expanding Your US Channel Into Europe, marketing techniques intended for Americans could come across as aggressive and self-centered to European audiences. Therefore, a company needs to collaborate with both trusted partners and Marketing to shape materials that help channel partners connect with their audiences. 

Make sure that marketing activities align with your general channel objectives

Some marketing activities are about raising brand authority while others are about lead generation. Consider auditing your sales funnel to identify weaknesses with which partner marketing strategy could assist. Are there overall too few leads? Perhaps collaborating with partners to raise your overall profile would be the goal. Are the leads unqualified or generally too small? Crafting materials to connect with well-defined, niche audiences may be the answer. 

Channel Marketing Best Practice: When possible, try to understand which marketing efforts drove which partner leads (and conversions). This will enable you to measure both the quantity and the quality of the engagement, letting you swivel your approach as needed. 

Creation of brand guidelines

Before embarking on channel marketing strategies, put guidelines in place. Brand guidelines serve as guard rails while launching campaigns and creating joint marketing efforts with partners. For co-marketing efforts, make sure these directives are balanced. Balance is important because you want to give your partners the freedom to customize your message to their audience while also streamlining your brand. 

Channel Marketing Best Practice: Basic brand guidelines usually include design rules like logo, colors, and approved slogans. Beyond design parameters, go a step further with your partners. Give them ideas on how to promote your brand. Inspire them by showing them examples of other partners successfully promoting your brand. This type of collaboration proves your investment in the partnership.

Don’t Slack on Regular Marketing Content Creation 

Embrace Co-Branding and Joint Promotion of Materials 

Traditionally, partners exchange target prospects or existing customer lists to market to each other’s audiences. The trading of these lists requires a foundation of trust to be established, which may not be possible with new partners. Creating content surpasses this obstacle by eliminating the need to exchange lists. You and your partners can create co-branded content and send it to your lists. The result is expanding your reach while avoiding overlap.

To maximize the potential of this practice, utilize a PRM that incorporates co-branding functions into its dashboard. Ideally, it should let partners add their logo to select content with a guaranteed clean aesthetic (and without depending upon you to do it on their behalf). 

Channel Marketing Best Practice: Take the opportunity to appear in each other’s newsletters and email blasts. Agree on a cadence, such as monthly or bi-monthly. Guest blogging is another excellent way to reach wider audiences. Blogging is less intrusive and can be done more frequently than email blasts. When it comes to whitepapers and case studies, gate your content to generate new leads.

Incorporate Webinars and Other Interactive Content

For the time being, webinars and online events are replacing tradeshows and conferences. Online functions allow you to team up with partners on co-marketing efforts and strengthen your relationship. Addressing your audiences directly through webinar will enable you to stand out to your customers and prospects. These joint efforts ensure prospects will remember you and your partner as a team when it comes time to buy.

Channel Marketing Best Practice: Today, webinar hosts enlist multiple speakers to offer their expertise. Having several presenters from different companies can give you an advantage because you’re offering differing, valuable perspectives. Webinars are a low-cost, efficient way to collaborate with partners.

Be Open to Marketing Ideas Directly from Channel Partners 

Don’t think of your partners solely as foot soldiers, as they are co-conspirators who bring fresh opinions and expertise. Regularly ask them for customer insights and how you can empower them to further connect with audiences. Not only will this yield a bounty of ideas, but it gives partners a sense of ownership when you put their concept into action. 

 Lose the Zeroes and Stick With the Heroes (and Learn)

Every marketer has had the heartbreaking experience in which a seemingly great idea fails to generate the anticipated buzz. Perhaps co-written blog posts fail to generate readership, or an email blast doesn’t deliver traffic. In such scenarios, it’s important to do the following:

  • Acknowledge the under-performance, as determined through pre-determined KPIs
  • Dive deeper to understand why the strategy did not deliver the expected results
  • Either evolve your approach or pivot entirely—to proceed “as is” is to waste resources


In short, embrace change and don’t drag your feet when determining what channel marketing activities aren’t working. 

Channel Marketing Best Practice: Data-driven objectives should be the foundation of all channel marketing decisions. Make sure all participants are aware of the specific goals, as well as how and when they will be measured. 

Think About Promotion as Much as You Think About the Messaging 

Equip Channel Partners With Various Marketing Templates & Lessons

Content marketing takes on many forms, from email blasts to social media posts to landing pages. Help your partners maximize their effectiveness by passing along best practices. For example, if they’re creating a landing page promoting your product packaged with theirs, share SEO best practice and ideas for keywords. 

Embrace new digital frontiers

Digital marketing is a vital component of any channel partner marketing strategy. There are very few, if any, businesses that wouldn’t benefit from an increase in their online presence. As a channel marketing strategy, it’s wise to offer paid advertising and other online visibility opportunities to partners. Offering paid ad opportunities proves your investment in partners and further builds the relationship. Digital marketing is a prime method of marketing the partnership and presenting yourselves as a united front to your audiences.

Channel Marketing Best Practice: Offer your partners a spot on your newsletter and ad space on your sites. An even better option is to designate an entire partnership section or page on each others’ websites. The goal is to inform the customer of special pricing or deals that result from your partnership. 

Don’t be afraid to spend your own money on partners’ promotional campaigns

Fully equipping partners to sell your product means more than simply handing them promotional materials; to maximize the outcome, consider giving partners with proven track records access to MDF (marketing development funds). Not only can this improve the reach of co-branded materials, but it demonstrates your commitment to their profitability and can help differentiate program tiers. 

Channel Marketing Best Practice: Have a system in place that connects MDF campaigns with changes in lead generation (or quality). Such data enables you to learn from successes (and duds) to further refine your channel partner marketing strategies. 

For an example of partner request forms, expense tracking, and CRM integration, view the MDF feature in Allbound

Guide partners to promote your content how target audiences will best receive it

It’s no coincidence that our last channel marketing strategy is similar to our first. It’s equally important to keep the end users in mind when planning your promotion as when you’re crafting the messaging. Research when and how partners like to receive information and, more importantly, engage with it on a deeper basis. An email blast may generate a quick glance, but event marketing may lead to memorable interactions. 

A key part of your strategy to gain consumer insights should be learning from your own partners. After all, these are the individuals who regularly interact with customers (and may closely resemble your target audiences).

Channel Marketing Best Practice: Keep the objective of the marketing materials in mind when determining the preferred promotional channel. A social media campaign may be suited for raising broad awareness while a booth at a conference could help focus on quality of leads. 

Bottom Line About Channel Marketing Best Practices

Channel partner marketing activities strengthen partnerships and grow awareness around your collaboration. Highlight the benefits that the end customer receives as a result of your partnership. By creating brand guidelines, you set parameters for all marketing efforts, which makes them consistent and streamlined. By creating shared content that resonates with both of your audiences, both companies can grow their reach. Digital marketing is the most effective method for joint promotions like webinars and landing pages. Implementing these tips and best practices allows you to receive the most ROI on your channel marketing activities.

Want to learn more about channel partner marketing objectives and best practices? Read our eBook “Must Have Marketing Strategies for PRM” for information on how to create an engaging and successful marketing strategy.

 

Tori Barlow