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Embracing Events and Human-to-Human Marketing in Your Channel Strategy
March 10, 2016
Embracing Events and Human-to-Human Marketing in Your Channel Strategy

Allbound loves inviting guest authors to contribute to our Partner Sales Acceleration conversation, and today’s blog post is from Nikki Nixon Marketing Manager for Terminus, a rapidly growing account-based marketing technology platform.

In the age of automation where marketers and sellers are trying to do more with less time and less money, there is an interesting renaissance happening with live events that cannot be ignored in 2016.Human-to-human marketing (H2H) is making a comeback because people are totally overwhelmed with digital messages and are now craving live, face-to-face interactions with like-minded peers, and his is manifesting itself in the form of events.

To extract the most value from this strategy, there’s an exciting opportunity to take an account-based marketing approach with your channel partners. This means viewing both your existing and prospective channel partners as your customers. From there, think about how you can identify them, target them, engage them in an environment where they are most comfortable, and turn them into advocates of your product or service. They own the customer experience for your end-user, so it’s important to show them some love. This is also known as the #FlipMyFunnel model.

Here are my top five ways channel marketers can make the most of industry events in 2016:
1. Scout the Right Sponsors
The expo hall is an often overlooked area of an event. However, this could be the most valuable component of a conference for a channel marketer or sales professional. Industry conferences attract vendors who sell to your ideal customer profile (ICP). If those attendees are your end-users, there’s a high likelihood of an opportunity to forge a relationship with your target partners in the sponsor area.

The key to make the most of your investments here is to plan ahead. Take a look at the event website and determine if the sponsors look like a fit for you. From there, try to set up meetings in advance. This is the best way to ensure you get the facetime you need to fully understand what the vendor has to offer and determine if they might be a fit for your offering.

2. Engage and Delight Your Current Channel Partners
Customer experience in channel marketing has a significant impact on your bottom line. In this case, your customer is your channel partner. This is a great time to say thank you to those channel partners who are driving the most revenue for your business. Dropping a small gift by their booth or taking them for a quick coffee break is a great way to show appreciation for all the work they are doing to sell your product.

It is also a wonderful opportunity to set up meetings with those partners who might not be so active. Perhaps you have released some new features since you last spoke with them. Setting a meeting to demo the latest release might be just what they need to get selling again.

3. Attend the Sessions
I’m sure this probably sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s worth including. Sessions can often bring emerging trends in your industry to light. Hearing what is on the minds of your target audience helps you to discover new distribution channels you might not have previously considered. Another key benefit is with messaging. Learning how people are positioning similar products can help you guide your channel partners in using the correct messaging.

4. Sponsor to Bring Your Brand to Life
Whether you are just getting started with a channel program or have been dedicated to indirect sales for a while now, sponsoring industry events is a great way to forge relationships with new channel partners and also spend time with existing ones. The benefit of doing this instead of simply attending the conference is branding. Brand presence can help you stand out among the noise of a crowded conference and show that you are a company potential partners want to work with.

5. Splurge on the Steak Dinner
Earlier this year, Sangram Vajre, Terminus CMO and Co-founder, interviewed Kevin Bobowski, VP of Marketing at Act-On. The key takeaway from this post was the Steak Dinner Phenomenon. You can employ this strategy even if you don’t sponsor the event. Find a nice restaurant within walking distance of the conference venue and invite a mix of existing partners and high-value partners. Giving a prospective partner the opportunity to engage with an existing partner helps build trust in your business, which could help build lasting relationships on both sides.

There is no doubt in my mind that 2016 will be the year of events for channel marketing and sales professionals. Are you ready to capture this opportunity and make the most of it to drive revenue for your business?

Nikki Nixon is a full stack marketer with an unbeatable passion for MarTech. Currently, she is the Marketing Manager for Terminus, a rapidly growing account-based marketing technology platform. She is also helping to grow the #FlipMyFunnel Movement, an idea to challenge the status quo of B2B marketing and sales. She is the 2015 TAG Marketing Technologist of the Year and is an active board member of TAG Young Professionals.

Ali Spiric