Channel Marketing | 7 minute read
In a sector worth £184 billion, the technology space is quickly becoming one of the most exciting industries to be a part of. In fact, it is expanding 2.6 times faster than the rest of the UK economy and with each new day, a wealth of new companies joins the fold.
It is a competitive space and customers are now having to navigate their way through a crowded marketplace of products and services. For businesses, identifying prospective customers and securing down a sale is often impossible without the assistance of a network of channel partners.
Tell me more about the channel, what is it and how does it work?
The channel exists as a pathway through which customers are provided with points of sale. For vendors, it creates a vehicle for moving products or services to the ownership of the end-user. For larger firms in particular, it offers a solution to market to a wider sales territory, ultimately increasing the sales-potential quickly. For partners, the benefit of working in the channel is an expanded product portfolio from some of the world’s largest brands and the opportunity to use an array of ready-made marketing collateral to sell it with.
Whilst the channel offers a platform to extend the reach of a product or service, it is not an automatic process, and it does require work. For vendors, the perceived difficulty with working in the channel can be the lack of results or complexity. But often it’s down to reduced investment – whether this be in people, tools or wider processes.
Identify and work with the right people
Partner engagement and enthusiasm to sell is a critical part of channel marketing. For the vendor, the focus should not just be on acquiring new partnerships but nurturing (and ultimately growing) existing relationships. A clear line of communication and easy access to support and assistance where required is key to this relationship, as is listening to opportunities to develop the partner offering further.
To maintain engagement, measurement of campaign performance is also critical here. The vendor can best determine where the spend should be allocated (and to which partner), based on the results achieved, but it can also prove useful in highlighting the engaged partners (and ensuring they are rewarded accordingly for their efforts).
Invest in the most effective tools
In channel marketing, streamlining messaging, ensuring consistent content and tone of voice, and keeping assets all in one centralised location helps vendors to ensure their offering remains aligned and competitive.
Critically, the perception of the vendor brand is ultimately in the hands of its partners – the way that channel partners talk about or sell the product or service needs to be clearly defined and managed from the offset – and the opportunity to edit any of this with a partner’s own branding or positioning needs to be minimised.
When it comes to co-branding, consistency is particularly important. It is here, that there is the most risk of your messaging being lost. A centralised hub of content and communications can essentially serve as a toolkit for both the vendor and its partners to use across the channel – ensuring the product or service messaging is not only being amplified but sold well and not lost in the landscape.
Investing in your processes
When it comes to channel marketing, collaboration is key to success. It is key to choose potential partnerships wisely; a thorough analysis should always be undertaken to determine whether the vendor’s product or service will be a good fit. This analysis should consider the existing product offering of the partner, and the audience which they sell to.
That said, the relationship is two way. For partners, vendors must be prepared to answer, “what is in it for me?” Recent data from Canalys indicates that partners consider partner programmes to be less relevant and fit for purpose than they used. The vendor must be able to provide the education, support and materials the partner will need to drive a sale to solidify a mutually beneficial relationship.
Many organisations struggle to make the most of their channel marketing due to limited resource, lack of direction or outdated tools and applications but with the appropriate investment in time and material, the rewards can be great.
Author: Vicki Maggs-Sleath, Account Director