Channel partner marketing is an effective way to expand your reach, enrich a partnership, and generate more leads. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all partner marketing plan, you can utilize a baseline process for establishing your strategy with each channel partner. This article can serve as a checklist for when you map out upcoming initiatives, and we invite you to utilize the free channel partner marketing plan template to further flesh out strategies.
Establish a Strong Internal Foundation Prior to Finalizing Your Partner Marketing Plan
Before you can consider planning your channel partner marketing, you need to ensure you’re ready to support your efforts internally. Most importantly, you need to get your team bought in through education and implement tools to support the execution of your plan.
Educate Your Team
Implementing channel partner marketing will likely require collaboration from your internal teams, including Marketing, Sales, and, potentially, Product. Ensure your teams are educated on the value of channel partner marketing and establish how it will benefit them. By getting buy-in from internal stakeholders, you’ll have an easier time getting the resources you need down the line.
Implementing a PRM and appropriate analytics tracking is essential ahead of implementing a channel partner marketing plan. A PRM lets you upload marketing materials to your partner portal so partners can easily access them when needed. Smaller partners may be able to leverage pre-developed marketing content, instead of collaborating on a new campaign. Analytics tracking is imperative for measuring the success of your efforts and optimizing future campaigns. Just like you need to be ready to monitor the results of your efforts, you need to be ready if they succeed. Consider what other resources your team will need in order to support a successful partner marketing campaign.
There are a few pivotal pieces that go into a channel marketing plan. These don’t have to be set in stone, but you should discuss them seriously with your partner and plan for them to be fairly solidified. If you decide to change something, be sure to first have a conversation with any impacted partners.
Target audience — Who are you hoping to reach? Determine the ideal audience for your initiative, taking into account your goals and your partner’s audience. You can also use an account mapping tool, like Crossbeam or Reveal, to identify overlap between your audience and your partner’s.
Marketing strategies & platforms — What strategies will you implement (blogs, email campaigns, social ads, webinars) and where? Consider you and your partners’ strengths, as well as which channels are popular amongst your target audiences. It’s a good idea to leverage strategies and platforms one of you already has nailed in your typically marketing efforts.
Goals for each partner — What are your goals for the marketing plan? What about your partners? Take some time to discuss what you’re each hoping to accomplish and ensure you’re on the same page. You don’t need to have the same goals for the campaign, but they should be complementary.
Key metrics for reporting — Which key metrics will you track and report on? What are your goals for each KPI? Make sure that the chosen partner marketing KPIs are appropriate indicators of your marketing campaign’s goals. If your aim is to introduce your brand to new audiences through a co-hosted webinar, generated leads may be an inaccurate measurement of your efforts compared to other metrics like email sign-ups.
A plan for analyzing results — How will you measure your success? Who will conduct the analysis and when? Along with the key metrics you’ll report on, develop a plan for measuring the results of your campaign. It’s important to establish your cadence for reporting and how you’ll communicate the results to your partner and internal stakeholders. For additional insights into partner marketing and other helpful templates, check out Channel Partner Marketing Best Practices & Planning – the Ultimate Guide.
Key Challenges & Considerations of Your Partner Marketing Plan
As you prepare to develop a channel partner marketing plan, it’s important to consider a few factors. You should review these aspects from your organization’s view and your partner’s
Budget & Resources
What do your budget and resources look like for a given campaign? Are you able to allocate funding for ads? Do you have team members who can build creative assets? Remember, a good partnership involves some give and take. If you can’t allocate much of your team’s time to supporting the channel partner marketing efforts, you’ll likely need to provide funds or additional resources, like an email list or social audience.
Consider what you hope to accomplish with a channel partner marketing campaign. Do you aim to build brand awareness? Generate new leads? Enter a new market? Your goals will guide your efforts. You and your partner don’t need to have the same goals. Instead, they can be complementary. For example, your goal may be to get new leads, while your partner’s goal is to provide deeper education to their audience to improve loyalty.
Existing Materials and Historic Data
Evaluating your company’s existing assets will help you understand what can be repurposed and what will need to be created from scratch, all of which will impact your channel marketing plan’s budget and timelines.
It’s also beneficial to make sure you’re learning from past strategies in order to not repeat the same mistakes. For example, if your company historically found minimal success with PPC, be prepared to answer why they should expect a different outcome when done in conjunction with channel partners (or rethink the strategy, entirely).
Determine Your Joint Value Proposition
Establishing a joint value proposition is the first step toward an effective partner marketing effort. The best way to do this is by thinking about your customer first. How does your partnership provide an additional benefit to your customer? What sets you apart from other options? Why should your audience care about your partnership? Your joint value proposition likely won’t be perfect right away. Take time to workshop it and leverage outside insights wherever possible. Read Co-Marketing Activities and Ideas for Joint Promotion for additional inspiration.
Conduct Org Mapping
Next, conduct org mapping. Introduce the relevant stakeholders from each team that will be involved in the partnership. Introducing your marketing team is especially important, but you’ll also want to get sales, product, and customer support teams involved depending on the scope of your partnership. Org mapping is a good time to understand which resources you’ll each bring to the table. Perhaps your team is fantastic at writing blogs and ebooks, while their team runs an incredible webinar series. Use these strengths to your advantage by including these strategies in your channel partner marketing plan.
Build a Detailed Strategy
With your budget, goals, and joint value proposition in hand, you can begin to develop a strategy. It’s likely that your channel partner marketing plan will benefit each party differently, so ensure you’re on the same page here. You don’t want any surprises later if you thought a partner was hoping for brand awareness but they were expecting to see an influx of qualified leads. Leverage strategies that align with each of your strengths, budget, and resources. Evaluate which strategies best fit the goals you’re hoping to achieve and your target audience.
Once you’ve developed your strategy, it’s time to establish roles and responsibilities. You’ve already discussed each of your strengths, so this should be easy to establish. Whether you’re providing a budget or your team is building all of the creative assets, document your roles and the timeline you’ll follow. Make sure both teams agree to these roles and develop a plan for checking in with each other while the campaign is in development. Since you’ve already conducted org mapping, you should have been introduced to the stakeholders who you’ll work with. It can help to use a project management tool to keep both your teams on the same page and track deliverables. When it’s time to start building your marketing campaign, lean on the side of over-communication as opposed to under. You want to keep everyone in the loop and excited about forthcoming results.
It may seem early, but as you finalize your channel marketing plan you should have a plan for after your efforts finish. Determine the appropriate process for tracking success, including which metrics you’ll measure, how you’ll measure them, reporting cadence, and team responsibilities. Be prepared to use these learnings to adjust your channel partner marketing plan for the future.
Amp Up Your Partner Marketing
Channel partner marketing is a powerful strategy for growing your business and engaging your channel. With the right foundation in place, it’s easy to get channel marketing plans up and running with your top partners. Keep your plan in mind as you build and run your campaign. Leverage project management tools and your PRM to keep all relevant stakeholders informed.
Allbound’s PRM makes it easy to collaborate with channel partners on marketing efforts. Get started with a demo! Additionally, if you liked this resource, check out our other helpful templates for channel partner relationship management.
Additional Reading to Help With Your Channel Partner Marketing Plan
Marketing best practices remain in flux as new platforms emerge, user behaviors change, and priorities shift in light of a fast-moving world. In turn, plan for your channel partner marketing to do the same. To help deepen your understanding of the various tactics at your fingertips, we recommend reading the following articles:
How to Measure the ROI of Your Partner Marketing Campaigns – A key component of a successful partner marketing plan is to explain the short-term and long-term ROI of your proposed efforts. Learn how to appropriately measure this for a variety of partner campaign types.
The Top B2B Brand Awareness Secrets – Find ways to improve your company’s position as a thought leader amongst relevant audiences, including which preliminary assets to include in your partner marketing plan (personas, brand guidelines, etc.).
Why Partner Co-Branding is Important + Best Practices – Co-branding is a major part of partner marketing. Make sure your company does it right while sidestepping potential pitfalls.
Strengthen Your Partner Program with Content Strategies for 2022 and Beyond – Content can refer to a broad range of materials, from surveys to videos to podcasts. There’s no denying that your partner marketing plan will reference it time and time again. Read this piece for ideas that can inspire your own!
How to Level Up Your Marketing Enablement Strategy – Content is only one part of a channel marketing plan. Keep in mind the many ways you can further enable partners to promote your messaging, from how you plan to distribute amongst partners to designated marketing spending.