Channel Marketing | 4 minute read
With new technologies, innovative start-ups and growing customer expectations, it is an incredibly crowded market in the world of telecommunications and technology today. As such, identifying prospective customers and securing down a sale in such a busy and competitive space is often impossible without the assistance of a network of channel partners.
For brands, the relationships you develop with your partners can be integral to your success. Your partner network can expand your presence and open up new opportunities, but your partners need to be mentored, managed and incentivised to really drive success.
The partner journey can be broken down into three key and equally important pillars; acquisition, onboarding and ongoing engagement. Focus too much in one area, and you risk losing the interest of your partners, either new or existing. As such, all aspects of your partner strategy must work together.
Where do I start?
It is key to ensure you have a strategy with a common objective in place for your acquisition plans and your engagement campaigns. To support this strategy, your team need to have the time and resource to actively seek out new partners and nurture their current partners.
The best place to start is with the segmentation of your partners – both existing and the accounts you want to acquire. This segmentation could be based on key locations, size of companies, sales being achieved, or sales expected. Once complete, you can start tailoring your activities accordingly and focus on ‘your sweet spot’ and make sure you are supporting and acquiring the right partners for your business.
Acquisition can be supported through a multitude of activities; however, the strongest approach is usually taking an ‘Account Based Marketing’ angle and utilising targeted and highly personalised marketing such as LinkedIn Ads, direct mail and more.
And once I have identified the partners?
The next step is the onboarding process. This needs to be a smooth experience that equips partners with all the collateral they need, access to the correct systems, tools and a complete understanding of your brand, your objectives and your products.
After the onboarding, this is where the ongoing engagement strategy needs to kick in, this activity can be increased and decreased based on your previous partner segmentation. We would recommend a comprehensive communications plan, supported with a preference centre so your partners have control over the information they do and don’t receive from you.
Regular training through easily accessible assets, webinars and personalised activities, and regular updates and improvements across the assets available to them and any portals you drive them to. Within your strategy, you should always allow budget for giving something back to your partners that is not completely focused on your brand. Online games to win prizes are an easy way to drive engagement and brand loyalty.
On top of the engagement strategy it is imperative to make your partners feel as though they are part of your strategy; conduct pilots for your development work, request their feedback and then actually take it onboard.
If all these activities are working together, it will ensure your partners feel valued and are keen to promote your brand ahead of your competitors.
Author: Avril Russell, Account Director