The role that marketing plays in the channel is changing, fast. Channel partners are having to change and evolve old marketing tactics and lead generation programmes to focus on leveraging the full buyer experience. They are also having to plan more in-depth marketing programmes and content to be heard.
Here we look at 5 key challenges that channel partners should address in their marketing programmes this year.
1. Top-level message
The easy option is to leverage vendor content, messaging and assets as your focal content. As a business that is its own entity, it’s important that prospects understand your main message. Why are they in front of you in the first place? What do you want to tell them to get their attention? Ask yourself these types of questions and keep it both brief and consistent.
Prospects don’t need to see all your content immediately and might be turned off if what they see is confusing. Giving them a next action will also help your cause. A typical mistake we see is channel partners having so many vendor assets, but no main campaign asset or brand message of their own.
This is your money shot. You’ve got one chance to grab their attention and be memorable for something. Brainstorm your primary messages and have that focus around what the lead message is going to be. You will also have the opportunity to get across a few important points.
Starting with working on your own brand and top-level message will give vendors confidence that you can leverage theirs. It’s much more attractive for them to work with partners that understand how to market themselves first.
2. Full inbound programme
This is an area that most partners aren’t quite au fait with just yet. Creating a brand around an entire buyer journey: attract, engage, convert, delight. This full nurturing journey is so key when you have long average sales lifecycles (the average being just over 2 years). Also if you rely on repeat business, creating a full inbound programme for effective channel marketing is smart.
The reality is that both prospects and clients will not buy from you from the one touchpoint. It may take almost 20, sometimes 25 touchpoints in order to convert a prospect.
A big part of this inbound programme is content marketing. You have to be able to create consistent content that is simple, impartial, educational and reliable. Distribution of your content across the right channels in a timely, proactive process is also recommmended.
Keep in mind the cost of acquiring new clients vs retaining existing. It’s worth noting that communication to both matters, not just new business.
To complete your inbound channel marketing programme, focus on key KPIs, tracking and reporting throughout the process. Gaining invaluable visibility to all the activities you’re running will help you understand the true campaign performance. You can make faster decisions to optimise your execution when you’ve got these details. Often, you can get the numbers you care about seamlessly.
3. Wider persona activities
Today’s target audiences go well beyond traditional IT roles. It’s so important that you are making every effort to understand the much wider buyer persona landscape.
It’s important that together we probe further into who is involved in the buying process. Up to 80% of employees now have an influence in technology investments; are you prepared for that?
Finance, operations, procurement, purchasing, account management may all have a role to play. All may have completely different motives. Think about how you can build as many relationships across departments as possible.
Do you have the skills to utilise platforms that can support with this such as LinkedIn? Or do you need a specialist partner? There might be different answers across each campaign. Knowing who you need to pinpoint and how to reach them via effective marketing programmes is key.
4. Focused product/service offering
Which products or services are your absolute priority? Which will be your focus further down the line?
Having a focus rather being all things to all people is sensible. You can have all the vendors on your side but you need to be known for something.
Vendors will also appreciate a partner with a strong brand and product focus. It helps display a customer-centric approach and gives them confidence that you know how to market a product or service well.
There’s so many technology products or services that can be sold to any commercial or retail client. Giving them confidence that the products or services you provide are the best fit will make the purchasing decision easier. Simple sells.
5. Digital presence
The way in which we do business has changed over the past decade. Historically, the industry has employed sales teams to sell their products and services, with very little investment or thought in marketing.
As part of an inbound programme, having a slick website, relevant and updated content, social media profiles, landing pages, videos, etc is all key to introducing your brand to new prospects.
The statistics lie very much in favour of those businesses creating an established brand, with service at the heart of their message. Case studies, accreditations, awards, etc all support your social selling activities with further proof. It’s easy to claim you are this or that, but letting your expertise do the talking is a safe bet.
B2B buyers are looking outside their buying committee at reviews, usage statistics and surveys, how do yours stack?
We truly understand the marketing challenges faced in the channel and that you need a specialist growth partner. If you’d like to discuss your 2020/next FY channel marketing strategy, the bolt team would love to hear from you.