What feels like a l-o-o-o-o-o-o-ng time ago, Channel Partner recruitment was (so much) easier. Vendors had their pick from a long list of Partners waiting, hoping, and striving to be an extension of their sales team. Not anymore. Today’s Partners are diversifying their services, creating their own solutions, selling outcomes, and working with multiple Vendors all-day - everyday.
Channel Maven Blog
Today’s Partners finally realize the impact content marketing has on driving demand to generate leads. However, working with anywhere from 5-25 Vendors day-to-day, makes it very challenging to turn their focus away from their customer’s needs. Between stretched resources and competing priorities, the work involved for Partners to curate or create relevant and engaging content, ends up taking a back seat or falling by the wayside all together.
I’m not sure if you remember, but in 2014 (or so), Google made a significant statement regarding the evolution of mobile devices. They basically forced everyone to create mobile-friendly websites or risk losing page rank. Of course, as avid smartphone users, we appreciated this move. Our Channel Partners however – not so much. Back then many were just figuring out the do’s and don’ts of web pages and basic SEO. So, the idea of mobile-readiness, was added to the bottom of an already long list. Of course, about a year later, in late 2015, mobile devices officially replaced desktops/laptops as the preferred route to the Internet and mobile-first indexing was born.
Vendors know that sales and marketing alignment drives about 20% more growth and see the win-win in enabling their Partners in this direction. However, if our conversations are any indication, many Channel Partner organizations have adopted a few best practices towards integrated sales and marketing strategy (aka SMarketing), but there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
With the virtual event market predicted to reach $4 billion over the next five years, our ability to engage Channel Partners through online events is more powerful than ever. Of course, the time and resources required to successfully plan and execute virtual events do not come without challenges. Working with Vendors daily, the major hurdles we discuss center around delivery tactics and low attendance.
With the event season upon us, I’d like to share a few best practices we employ when working with Vendors to engage Channel Partners via online events:
In a perfect, inbound world where demand is auto generated and leads are lining up at your virtual door, marketing and sales are 100% aligned. However, with a historic “love-hate” relationship between the two, achieving this utopia is no small feat for any sized partner organization especially those working with 5 – 25 Vendors at any given time.
At ChannelCon 2017, I had the pleasure of speaking alongside Larry Walsh, CEO of The 2112 Group on why integrating sales and marketing for inbound demand generation is critical for driving more revenue through The Channel:
While we talk an awful lot about email-type communications being overwhelming and bombarding, we are huge fans of newsletters. They are a great way to aggregate a lot of information and cut down on multiple emails.
They also enable you to relay important information to Channel Partners regarding your solutions, program, resources and other offerings. Unfortunately, they are losing effectiveness as Partners are now working with anywhere from 5 – 25 Vendors which means as many newsletters. In those cases, the volume of incoming information from co-workers, Vendors, customers, prospects, solicitors, and others can be overwhelming. I don’t know about you but I don’t read a newsletter if the rest of my inbox is out of control unless there is something incredibly useful in it.
If you’re content strategy nerds (like us), you might agree, blogging to a Partner audience is fascinating. No, seriously, think about it.
There’s no shortage of arguments for and against paid vs. organic traffic. They both have advantages, associated costs, and expected outcomes (when done right). For Channel Partners considering PPC for their Channel Partner marketing strategy, it can be frustrating, time-consuming, and daunting to learn the nuances of PPC. However, if they execute a marketing strategy for PPC before fully understanding where to begin, it can be an enormous waste of money.
The Channel has shifted significantly in the past few years. Channel Partners are working with multiple Vendors; end-users are driving digital transformation, and customers want business outcomes instead of solutions. In addition, new IT channels are cropping up across the landscape as S-a-a-S and other as-a-service Vendors enter the market with always on, from anywhere, cloud-based platforms to address user pain points.