Posted By: Mike Moore, Averetek /
Channel partners, many of whom are launching digital marketing activities for the first time, can often put too much thought and planning into their campaigns which can lead to delays or a complete failure to launch. They often overthink marketing because of their inexperience. There's very little risk to launching a variety of activities and then waiting to see what prospects respond to. In your planning, you should consider how you can help partners move forward. By addressing common concerns and issues, brands can help channel partners create more marketing activity and start to realize the benefits of a multi-threaded digital demand generation campaign.
For many years, partners used events as their only form of marketing, and many still do. Partners invite prospects to an event, deliver a solution pitch, follow-up with sales meetings, and close some deals. When the pipeline runs low and they need more sales, they schedule another event. The real question for your partners is where do they find the people to invite to their events? If they’re not running an always-on digital demand generation program, they’re likely only engaging with people they already know or those they’ve met through word-of mouth referrals. This isn’t a bad strategy. It’s just typically not enough activity to drive the kind of engagement and growth that’s possible when digital demand generation is added to the mix. The opportunity is to use digital marketing to attract new prospects.
A multi-threaded digital demand generation campaign sounds very complex, and it can be. But it can also be relatively simple, which is how I think brands should position this approach for their channel partners. Partners should publish several landing page offers – a mix of eBooks, whitepapers, industry reports, and other interesting content provided by the brand, promote the landing page offers to their marketing database contacts using a recurring schedule of emails, publish a recurring set of social posts to promote the landing page offers, and monitor the responses as customers and prospects interact with the messages and content.
I refer to this as a multi-threaded approach because I believe you need to have activities planned throughout the buyer’s journey across multiple personas and industries. These are the threads. The buyer’s journey stages of awareness, consideration, and decision require content that addresses that needs and interests of the buyer who is actively looking for a solution or who is in a more passive state. The needs of the direct user of your solution may be different than the needs of a stakeholder who will be a beneficiary of your solution. These personas need content that speaks to their needs along the buyer’s journey. (See the SiriusDecisions blog article "Dialing Up an Audience-Centric Approach to Marketing") And if you can add an industry-specific message, the prospect will be much more likely to identify with your solution than with a generic cross-industry message. All of this means that, in an ideal world, you have a lot of content to utilize in campaigns and that partners can have much of it in market at the same time to try and attract the interest of prospects.
Too often, channel partners publish one landing page offer at a time. Then, they send one email out promoting the offer only to feel disappointed when a handful of people respond to the offer. This is equivalent to going to the gym once, working out for ten minutes, and then feeling disappointed that you didn’t lose thirty pounds of fat and gain twenty pounds of muscle. There’s a certain amount of “just bear down and work” that applies to both exercise and marketing. It takes commitment, repetition, and a long-term approach. No single action will produce the desired results. A partner must send an initial promotional email and then follow it up with another email to non-responders the following week, and the week after that, too. By giving partners the content and tools to activate a multi-threaded digital demand generation campaign, you’re helping to set them up for success. In any given month, partners should have at least five landing page offers available to prospects. They may only send email about one offer each week, but all offers should be available through their website and they should be promoting all offers daily through social media.
For brands, you can help your channel partners create more leads and more pipeline by focusing on these key points:
- Call the Plays – Your channel partners don’t know as much about marketing, your product, your campaign content, etc. as you do, so don’t be afraid to call the plays. Tell them what to do, when and how to do it, and make it as easy as possible for them. This isn’t an area of strength for most of them so don’t worry about being too heavy-handed. They’ll appreciate your direction and likely follow it closely.
- Remove Obstacles – If your channel partners want to run campaigns, but don’t have a good marketing list to use, arrange for high-quality, affordable list services that can be used to support their efforts. If your channel partners want to co-brand their marketing campaigns but they don’t have a corporate logo, or they’d like to try and update their look and feel, offer a designer or funding to help them establish a fresh, modern look. Services like Fiverr can help connect your partners with freelance designers who can deliver great results quickly and for an affordable price. If your partners are raising other concerns, consider creative ways to knock down these points of friction and help partners move forward.
- Automate the Work – To activate your channel partners and sustain the activity level needed to successfully execute the approach recommended here, you must automate the customization and publishing of landing pages, emails, and social content. Partners should have to do very little work to provide the inputs needed to launch your program. Using tools like the Averetek channel marketing automation platform, you can reduce the channel partners’ workload to minutes a month and they’ll be able to achieve much greater results by using tools designed for their needs. Provide a steady stream of interesting content and partners will feel excited to share it with their prospects.