The goal of a successful channel marketing operation is to align the goals and activities of product marketing, sales, and local partners. When a new product launches, you want your people firing on all cylinders – pushing out relevant campaign materials and marketing messages.
But it doesn’t always work that way.
Sales and marketing have enough trouble syncing up on their own, and the channel only adds complexity. So how do you ensure your efforts – from both the product and channel side – are fully in sync? Let’s take a closer look.
Step one is to clearly define and align sales efforts both by partners and the brand organization. National brands rely on their partners to reach into new markets, identify new opportunities and make inroads with new types of customers. But frequently partners don’t know what these goals look like. Many don’t even know about coop advertising programs, training courses, and other resources offered by their vendors to help them reach those new markets.
Simply put, the more aligned partner marketing efforts are with the brand’s overall goals, the better the results will be for both sides. A huge part of this is communicating those goals to partners. Another part is implementing a system that encourages both participation and compliance with the rules you’ve laid out.
There are robust systems available to help manage partner relationships and keep all parties on the same page. For the largest national brands, partner relationship management (PRM) systems are often customized to streamline and automate things like marketing collateral distribution, finance and legal operations, support and more. They invest heavily in building tools that will keep those goals aligned.
Smaller brands and those without as many internal resources don’t necessarily have these tools in hand. Managing the partner relationship often falls to a handful of channel or brand managers who have limited time. Sometimes they will outsource parts of this to a third-party agency, but even then, it’s difficult for one team to scale to meet the needs of hundreds of dealers.
This causes a couple of issues:
Did a nationwide campaign have an impact on sales in Florida? A centralized system that automatically captures results from predefined campaigns can provide these insights, guiding future investment.
Because not all brands can justify a fully-customized PRM to manage their channel efforts, though, a flexible platform-based solution that supports key components can be immensely valuable. Collateral distribution, minimizing support requests, and reducing the workload for local marketers can all be beneficial when implemented properly.
Channel partners are selected and onboarded to extend the reach of a brand beyond what a lean internal sales team can reasonably reach.
But they must work in tandem with the efforts of the brand. That means supporting national advertising campaigns, following guidelines for participation in advertising co ops and providing valuable information back to the brand they can use to measure ROI and plan future campaigns.
This doesn’t always happen, which is what so often puts everyone out of sync. To address this issue, technology is a must. Even without a full blown PRM, brands should look for a platform solution for communicating and collecting key data about campaign operations from partners.
In our eBook, How to Simplify Channel Partner Marketing and Improve ROI, we discuss many of the obstacles that get in the way of channel partners doing these things. From lack of internal resources to frustration with the way such programs are managed, we’ve found seven different obstacles and challenges to partner marketing program success. Download the guide to learn more about these obstacles, how you can overcome them with the right technology, and the positive impact this can have on sales locally and nationally.