If you’re looking to capture a greater share of today’s increasingly competitive global marketplace, channel partnerships present a highly profitable opportunity for your company. By leveraging a sales force other than your own, you can develop new customers and revenue streams in a way that far exceeds the capacity of your in-house sales team. Of course, while the opportunities of a successful channel partner relationship may seem exponentially large, using a third-party to sell your products presents a converse set of challenges. Sound daunting? It doesn’t have to be. Here are five steps to a successful channel partnership.
1. Start with strategy.
Far too many companies take a reactionary, ad-hoc approach to supporting channel partners, which leaves so much opportunity on the table. At the highest level, you need to address the big picture questions and concepts related to your organization’s overall vision for channel marketing.
- What are your end goals?
- What’s the definition of success for you and, if different, for your channel partners?
- Who are your best potential partners and what do they think about you?
- Who’s going to generate demand – you, your channel partner, or both of you?
- What kind of resources and support do your channel partners – and their customers – want and need?
The overarching imperative behind every successful partner marketing strategy is to build your channel program around your mutual customer’s success. That should be the driving force behind everything you do.
2. Make it easy to be your partner.
Channel partners work most closely with a supplier who offers them a customized, proactive, ongoing level of marketing and sales support. After all, most resellers and distributors represent a lot of brands, products and solutions. And they likely represent other manufacturers in your same sector. So if you can make it easier for your channel partners to convert sales, you will get a commensurate share of mind. By continuously helping them educate themselves on your offerings, market trends, and end-user needs, they will have more confidence when it comes to selling your solutions. If you don’t make it easy, you’ll be left on the proverbial shelf.
3. Create a common sales toolkit.
Do everything possible to enable them to communicate your value proposition and accelerate sales growth. This should include sales collateral, messaging platforms, samples of customer correspondence, access to your webinars and white papers, case studies, etc. Suppliers who provide their partners with joint marketing programs that are easy to use, streamline time and resources, and generate ROI will lead the way. Not only are you working to reframe the outdated view of a vendor-partner relationship, you are gaining and retaining partner loyalty and trust, reducing overall costs, and boosting profits for both businesses.
4. Leverage your partner’s digital networks.
Synchronizing your social media strategy with partners can dramatically influence brand awareness and thought-leadership among partners’ diverse audiences. Your partners may not have the experience or resources to effectively leverage social media’s dramatic potential. That’s why it’s important to not only emphasize its value, but also advocate your proficiency to help create co-branded campaigns. Share your tweets, LinkedIn pulse articles, blogs, YouTube videos, and case studies with channel partners. You will not only perpetuate brand awareness and industry authority but will also strengthen partner mind share and loyalty.
5. Invest in content.
Content and communication for the channel is a two-part process. You need to arm your channel partners with content and selling tools that make them more prepared to have a conversation about how your offerings can solve a customer’s needs and pain points. You also need communications for the end users that showcase the value of working with your resellers and buying your specific offering(s) – a co-branded value proposition.
This goes beyond sharing relevant industry news or important information on product updates. Channel partners look for content that will equip them with the information they need to successfully represent their several product offerings to buyers at all stages in the buying process. A successful channel content marketing strategy should include the following:
- Creating content that is cohesive with both you and your partner’s brand.
- Creating content that is unique and diverse; finding a balance between sharing third-party curated content, and exclusively produced content.
- Utilize more than one method of content distribution; for example, encourage partners to share content on suitable social media platforms.
- Information shared should be easy to read and free from jargon terminology and confusing industry terms.
At birdsong gregory, we’ve helped a range of companies build campaigns catered to the needs of their channel partners. To find out more about how our comprehensive marketing and branding solutions can improve your channel ROI, just give us a call.