It’s Time to Kill All-Purpose Channel Marketing Programs
Canned marketing programs are easy to turn out. Yet canned programs aren’t good for delivering results. An all-purpose approach can be what holds partner growth back.
Canned programs make sense for efficiency by taking advantage of economies of scale, yet just like the one-size-fits-all t-shirt, clearly one-size doesn’t fit all when it comes to partner marketing programs either.
It is most important to put the partner first. This is challenging since you, of course, want your partners selling more of your solutions as a result of your partner marketing efforts. However, to do that successfully, you need to think of the partner first. Here’s a road map to revamp partner marketing so it is relevant to all of your unique partners.
1) Determine the segments
You can segment your partners on many different criteria:
- Size of partner by total revenue
- Size of the partner marketing team
- Vertical focus
- Geographic area served
- By revenue tiers of your product or solution
- By level of loyalty
- By the type of customers your partner serves
Some of these criteria could overlap. Make sure your segments are different enough to warrant different approaches. Determine if segments are required by reviewing how significantly different your partners are based on the following:
- The customers your partners serve
- The GTM strategies of the partners
- The in-house marketing capabilities
- The sales volume
- The geographic area served
A word of caution – Start small. Consider two or three segments to start with and grow from there.
2) Understand the specific needs
Small partners may not have a marketing staff and therefore need a soup-to-nuts approach for the programs you deliver. Large partners may have a strong marketing staff and will not want to use the programs you create. Shared planning, best practice approaches, and a more consultative approach will have more value for these partners. Plan to talk with at least 3-5 partners for each segment. If the feedback is too varied, it may indicate the need for a separate segment. Don’t ask what they need. Go to them with specific solutions of what you would deliver and get feedback. You may find that the really cool self-service platform you plan to roll out will go unused.
3) Share and teach instead of telling
Share what works and what doesn’t work. Give examples and make it easy to replicate successes while avoiding what doesn’t work. As the old adage goes (well sort of), “Give a partner a lead and you increase his pipeline for a day, teach a partner how to create leads and you increase his pipeline for years to come.” Help partners become more effective by showing them how to use marketing best practice approaches.
“Give a partner a lead and you increase his pipeline for a day, teach a partner how to create leads and you increase his pipeline for years to come.”
4) Be better than the competition
Provide more value in terms of how-to guides, data-sharing, positioning, content development – not focused on your products, but on what problems and opportunities your partners’ customers are trying to address. Make it easier for partners to sell your products than the competition. Understand how your partners’ customers buy and help your partners map their approaches to their customers’ buyer’s journey. Understand where sales opportunities tend to get stuck and what it takes to help the partner and the customer get unstuck.
5) Start with the partner’s goals
Everyone is short on time. Make sure your partner marketing representatives do more than just pester the partners for their plans and try to influence the spending direction of marketing development or co-op funds. They need to develop a consulting relationship with the partners they work with. Instead of focusing on your company goals, understand the partner’s goals and then help them see where your solutions can fit into their plans and help them accomplish and surpass their goals faster. Take their goals first in the context of what the end customer needs, then overlay your value. Don’t start from the features and benefits of your solutions. It isn’t about your company’s products or solutions. If the end customer doesn’t care – and they don’t – the partner won’t care either.
6) Reward loyalty
Make sure to recognize and provide added benefits to partners that demonstrate loyalty. You can create loyalty tiers and give specific added benefits to those partners that meet the criteria. This might include a custom consulting engagement to help the partner accomplish something meaningful that will make their marketing more effective – for example a sales and marketing alignment workshop. Make sure to promote the benefits of loyalty so partners that would like to get some of the benefits will work to meet the requirements.
These are just a few suggestions for improving partner marketing results. What have you done to improve your partner marketing efforts? What has worked best for your team?