The Future Of Channel Marketing

Channel Marketing

The way in which channel marketers communicate and influence end users has changed dramatically over the past seven years. Partner marketers understand the importance of a brand and its online reputation. They have adapted their marketing strategies to incorporate modern marketing tactics, ensuring the right messages are reaching the right audiences using the most appropriate channels.

It’s the vendors who need to adapt and change the way they market themselves through and with their partners in order to succeed. Long gone are the days of ‘build it and they will come’. Partners don’t want to use vendor events or campaigns-in-a-box anymore, let alone GRID campaigns or marketing portals with pre-populated, generalised marketing assets. Some vendors even try to sign-up partners to pre-packaged tweets and blog platforms, but the partners are just not interested because it is too generalised.

The issue for the vendors is that they’re all offering the same type of assistance. Partners have had enough of pre-packaged marketing programs and will simply not use the assets created anymore. Vendors need to rethink their marketing offering for partner communities and try to understand the changes they need to make to provide actual assets that partners will use in today’s market.

The changes can be simple, yet effective. Using a more tailored and personalised approach to marketing will create more targeted campaigns that help increase revenues over time for both the partners and vendors.

Partners today need bespoke marketing materials and content from their vendors for use in more modern and digital marketing activities, such as tailored EDMs and social media advertising to target specific groups of prospects. Likewise, partners need to continue to push vendors to create new assets and try to re-use the content that already exists in some way.

Vendors are known to produce huge amounts of content from newsletters, blogs and product specs, to sponsored market research, market statistics and even new industry legislation. Partners should always try to take advantage of this content as it would be expensive to produce in-house and can be repurposed across many comms channels.

Another area becoming more popular in channel marketing to help support sales using modern marketing techniques is ‘thought leadership’. Often seen as an overused term in some industries – but the partners who embrace it and start to own a particular subject in the market, whether through online advertorial/editorial coverage, social media content, blogs – will start to build an online reputation associated with that chosen topic, demonstrating how they have the solution to solve a common problem.

So where does the future of channel marketing lie? It’s ultimately about the individual partner and how they can differentiate their brand from that of a similar partner with the backing of a global vendor. However, the real smart vendors are the ones working with their partners, collectively defining go-to-market strategies based on sharing their own market knowledge and expertise to achieve success together. After all, that is the definition of a partnership.

Andy Grant is an international marketing leader with over 16 years of experience working with a number of blue-chip technology vendors, including 3Com, Iomega, Avaya and Nortel. In 2009, Andy co-founded Bowan Arrow with Louise Grant, launching an independent channel marketing consultancy to build stronger vendor-partner relationships that inspire, educate and encourage joint marketing activities to achieve measurable return. In addition to managing Bowan Arrow, Andy is an active member and vice chair of the IDM B2B Marketing Council. In this role, Andy helps raise the profile of B2B marketing as a discipline and meets regularly with members to share views and experiences.