Posted By: Mike Moore, Averetek /
In my last post, I wrote that I believe channel marketing is behind the times for a variety of reasons associated with strategy, tactics, systems, tools, and resources. There is no dominant methodology for channel marketing to align channel marketers and usher in an era of modernization. There is, however, a growing wave of energy behind the Inbound Marketing movement, a methodology grounded in tactics that earn the attention of customers by offering great content that keeps them coming back for more.
In our work at Averetek, we see the power of Inbound Marketing every day as we use it for our own marketing. The methodology is simple and practical, and it works because it's oriented around how modern buyers learn and make buying decisions.
The Inbound Marketing Methodology
From HubSpot, "along the top are the four actions (Attract, Convert, Close, Delight) inbound companies must take in order to obtain visitors, leads, customers, and promoters. Along the bottom are the tools companies use to accomplish these actions. (Note that the tools are listed under the action where they first come into play, but that’s not the only place they’re applicable! Several tools, like email, can be essential in multiple stages of the methodology.)"
Channel Marketing in its current form is less structured than Inbound Marketing, but there are some basic tenets that are accepted among marketers.
Channel Marketing Fundamentals
In our eBook What is Channel Marketing?, we break down the four main approaches to channel marketing, as shown in the diagram here. Channel Marketing tends to focus on how the message is being delivered (to-partner, through-partner, etc.), but few companies align the campaigns and initiatives within each approach with the modern buyer's journey.
That's the missed opportunity that I believe can be solved by taking an Inbound Marketing approach to Channel Marketing. To realize the full potential of channel partners, we must align our marketing efforts with each stage of the buyer's journey and with each approach (to, with, through, and for) with partners.
When we put the pieces together, Inbound and Channel come together to give channel marketers an entirely new framework. It is the roadmap for the digital transformation that's desperately needed to modernize the channel. This is Inbound Channel Marketing.
Inbound Channel Marketing
As seen in the diagram, the four approaches of Channel Marketing are laid across the Inbound Marketing methodology to bring the two frameworks together. Joining the two graphics is only the start. How each Channel Marketing approach is delivered in the Inbound framework is where the rubber hits the road.
To make things real, consider the high-level questions that must be addressed in each Inbound stage.
This can be used as a template to help define the key messages for a specific campaign.
Sample Inbound Channel Marketing Campaign: CRM Software
In this sample Inbound Channel Marketing campaign, I've built out the messaging framework around a "Social Selling" scenario for customer relationship management (CRM) software. To execute this campaign, content of various forms would need to be developed for each row of the table, and tactics to share the content would need to be planned. When all of these elements come together, channel partners will have the full complement of messages, content, and tactics needed to address the entire lifecycle of customer acquisition and retention.
Using this approach makes channel marketing more complex as there is more work to do, but this is the right approach to achieve the kind of results that Inbound Marketing has been able to generate for companies. There's no reason that channel marketers shouldn't be able to put up great numbers, too.
This is just the beginning. There's much more to Inbound Channel Marketing, so stay tuned!