The 4 Biggest Challenges Channel Partners Have with Marketing

More than 60% of companies say channel partners contribute to their annual revenue. Some, like Cisco have tens of thousands of global partners that make up 85% or more of their annual revenue. Well known brands and smaller manufacturers alike invest heavily in channel partner marketing programs for this reason, but many of these programs struggle.

Poor reporting. Improper spend. Misalignment with brand goals. These are all issues highlighted by brand managers struggling to generate and prove results.

But one of the biggest issues, and simultaneously one of the most difficult to quantify, is execution by channel partners. With limited communication and low participation rates, it’s hard to know exactly why distributors and dealers fail to take advantage of co-op marketing dollars for their promotions.

It’s something GoBoost sees a lot of and has helped with on both the channel and brand side. In this article let’s look closer at the biggest challenges these partners face and what brands can do to help them succeed.

Different Priorities

Channel partners might carry anywhere between five and fifty different products. Understandably, they make decisions differently than brands.

A dealer might have a higher profit margin on a competing product or a completely different service line. With limited staff and competing priorities, these partners often choose to focus on one thing only, instead of diversifying and using untested, unproven tactics.

At the same time, brand and channel marketing managers are busy and don’t have enough time to devote to all of their partners.

Not Enough Resources

Those differing priorities lead us to the next major challenge faced by channel partners. They don’t have enough resources.

And this goes beyond cash.

Plenty of brands offer healthy reimbursement through co-op funds to help vendors with their marketing efforts. But a small team of 5-10 people operating a regional dealership is still strapped for time, even if the cash is there to support their efforts.

A successful channel marketing program needs to provide resources that make it easier for local marketers to implement these campaigns. This by itself can be difficult as well – even with a third-party agency, scaling your support efforts can be costly and have diminishing returns.

Claiming Co-op Funds is Not Easy

A recent survey showed that more than half of channel partners don’t know how to get co-op funds or MDF from their vendors.

From a vendor perspective, it makes sense to carefully control who receives these co-op dollars and that it is carefully tracked, but for a vendor with multiple product lines, it is a cumbersome, time consuming process. Most don’t even bother with it.

The easier brands can make the process, the higher the participation rate and the better the results they will see from local marketing activities.

Lack of Outside Support

This is an area in which both vendors and channel partners struggle.

Providing outside help to partners requires a significant budget and immediate buy-in from the partner. And yet plenty of distributors have tried to work with agencies before, or tried to rely on vendor support services, only to find that they can’t meet their needs.

Finding the right balance of scalable outside support and ease-of-use for local marketers is an important step for brands.

How to Support Channel Partners in a Way that Breeds Success

Six figure marketing budgets and large third-party agencies aren’t enough to guarantee success for a channel marketing program. Even brands with huge budgets and ample resources see sub-50% participation rates, unclear reporting, and poor ROI on their efforts.

This model simply doesn’t scale, but there is a better option. In our eBook, How to Simplify Channel Partner Marketing and Improve ROI, we discuss the obstacles channel partners face, how to simplify the process, and subsequently improve ROI. Download the guide today to learn more about how a platform approach to managing your co-op funds can improve performance, participation, and results.

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