Have you been considering partner marketing vs. channel marketing? Perhaps it’s time to re-think it. Channel partner marketing offers great opportunity for those in the B2B space. It’s a matter of following the best practices for your niche…
Guest post by Tori Barlow
Are you following the best channel partner marketing tips for B2B businesses?
Channel partners are notorious for underinvesting in marketing, yet they face increasing competition. Digital frontiers connect audiences to new companies and B2B markets grow more crowded. Now, it’s more important than ever for your partners to connect with the right people … with the right message.
It’s time for channel leaders to reframe their thinking around partner marketing best practices. In this post, I’ll discuss:
- How to create a strong marketing plan
- The most effective types of promotion for channel partners
- How automation can create proven scalable results
Now, let’s dig deeper into B2B channel partner marketing best practices.
First Things First – Make A Plan
Regardless of your industry or product, it’s fundamental to create a marketing plan before taking action. Marketing dollars (especially for the channel) tend to be scarce, so a detailed blueprint can prevent you from wasting resources.
As noted in the article Top Seven Marketing Tips For Startups, the following best practices are essential for any well-executed plan:
- Have a clearly defined brand – Make sure you can clearly articulate your unique selling proposition, your company’s values, and your target audiences.
- Know your market niche – Instead of casting a broad net, focus your marketing efforts on distinct audiences. This enables you to build messaging and promotional strategies to best reach and resonate with them.
- Specify your marketing goals – Yes, you want more revenue, but what are the marketing steps you need to achieve to get there? Perhaps it’s to elevate your brand’s profile or to promote a new product to existing customers. Every marketing initiative should tie directly back to one of your aims and be measured through appropriate KPIs.
Secure Marketing Funds
To build a case for more marketing budget, dig up past numbers. Gather existing data on:
- Your sales cycle
- Lead distribution
- Previous marketing efforts
The goal is to show stats that will forecast future success.
Make sure you have a system in place which allows partners to request market development funds (MDF). This grants partners the ability to bring opportunities to your attention (like conferences or media buying), and for you to help finance their promotional efforts in a timely fashion.
Collaborate With Partners
Take the time to engage with your top partners’ marketing teams, a step many organizations skip. Treat this as an opportunity for collaboration rather than simply a presentation. As the ones who will execute your marketing plan, partner teams need all their questions answered. What’s more, they can provide valuable insights into your target audiences and other campaigns with which they had success.
By including partners in efforts to fine tune marketing plans, you can jointly produce content they’ll be proud to promote. In turn, this can improve both campaign effectiveness and their morale. Strategy sessions also help nurture consistency across brand representation, though the particulars may differ based on a partner’s audiences.
Choosing The Right Marketing Activities
While successful lead generation tactics vary from industry to industry, most strategies today will be digital. The following are best practices that channel partners should include in their marketing plan:
Creating content for your partnership is non-negotiable. To motivate partners to market and sell for you, provide:
- Co-branded email templates
- Landing page templates
And battle cards.
As workplaces and interactions become increasingly remote, online events replace traditional trade shows and conferences. Joint webinars present you and your partners as a united front, strengthening your relationship and helping customers regard your products as package deals.
By offering different partner presenters within a webinar series, you provide viewers with diverse, value-packed perspectives. Plus, they are generally low-cost. To learn more tips, read Making The Most Of A Virtual Presentation.
Almost every business can benefit from increasing its online presence. By offering paid ad opportunities to your partners, you increase visibility and demonstrate your financial commitment to the relationship.
Provide your partners a spot on your newsletter or ad space on your site. Better yet, create a separate promotional page on each other’s websites highlighting your partnership. These pages will inform customers of special pricing or deals that come from your partnership.
Automate Channel Partner Marketing For A Scalable Solution
Arming your partners with effective marketing materials isn’t only about creation, but also accessibility. As the number of program participants grow, fulfilling their individuals requests via email will become progressively more time-consuming and impractical.
Therefore, consider building a partner portal or acquiring a partner relationship management (PRM) tool. It should organize marketing materials and automatically guide users towards the most appropriate content based on their needs. What’s more, certain PRM platforms automate marketing functions like co-branding documents and MDF requests. This empowers partners to operate with increased independence.
Track And Measure Everything
With digital marketing, data justifies costs and refines future strategies. Your partner program should track the following KPIs:
- Partner pipeline sales funnel activity and revenue
- Individual partner revenue
- Partner engagement activity
- Promotional campaign performance
Solutions like a PRM enable you to track whether specific marketing efforts lead to sales registrations, as well as whether the prospects eventually convert. This data clarifies where your budget can best be spent, as well as what content is most effective.
Bottom Line About Channel Partner Marketing Best Practices
To summarize the key takeaways about channel marketing, it’s crucial that you create a detailed plan that reflects your specific audience and partner input. Define your goals and KPIs, and have a clear way to directly measure campaigns’ impact.
The great thing about this type of process, and repeating it over time, is that you begin to form a channel partner marketing plan template. In turn, it can be continuously edited for future best results each time you run a campaign.
With a deep understanding of your market niche, strong partner communication, and thorough data analysis, you will set up your marketing efforts for success!
Tori Barlow leads Allbound’s marketing strategy to cultivate awareness for the ultimate PRM solution. An experienced digital marketer with a passion for B2B, Tori thrives in a data-driven world. Connect with Tori on LinkedIn.