Channel Marketing

Make Channel Managers Your Partner Marketing Program Evangelists

Published by Channel Marketer Report on March 23, 2021

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From the article: Make Channel Managers Your Partner Marketing Program Evangelists by Channel Marketer Report

There are any number of ways that the benefits of participating in a channel marketing program can be effectively communicated to your partner ecosystem. But few members of your team can have as much impact on partner engagement in through-channel marketing programs as your channel or partner account managers.

In personal communication with your top- and second-tier partners, channel managers can be a vendor’s most influential partner marketing evangelists. The key word there is ‘personal’ for communication. We are all tired of formulaic messages. This is your company’s shot at something personalized for that partner. All personalized messages from your channel account managers should have 3 elements:

  1. Personalized openers (ask about a recent vacation, how a pet is doing, something that shows you listen to them as a person, not just a transaction machine).
  2. How the new product / messaging / etc helps their specific company.  For example – ‘As a leading reseller for our new XYZ product, I wanted to share with you some recent wins that others have had as I am sure you can do the same or better.
  3. Call to action and connection.  Tell your partner where and how to use this new information and how to connect with you for more information.

I bet you think your channel account managers have a great handle on your latest marketing initiatives and product updates. How can you absolutely know?  I recommend a belt and suspender approach here. First, relay the information the way you do – video training, email, webinar, carrier pigeon.  Then do a ‘Call Calibration’ review.  If you are like almost all companies, the calls your CAMs are having with your partners are recorded.  Review one call as an example (rotating who gets picked evenly) for feedback from leaders on each relevant department.  What did they do great, what can be improved? Post the recording with recorded feedback for all team members to learn from.  

Great channel managers are great advocates for their partners, many times working on or in their business.  There is a grey line in some of the best relationships.  Some great behaviors here include:

  • Helping to make sure the partners are really benefiting from the training courses and taking them.
  • Ensuring the partner engagement is not leaving any marketing development funds (MDF) on the table.
  • Augmenting the partner’s marketing team with tools for prospecting, messaging, co-branding, social media, etc.

Partner Recon For Channel Marketers

Without a doubt, channel managers should also advocate for their partners, helping them communicate what kind of marketing support they believe would be effective. Too often, channel marketing teams operate in a near-vacuum, leading to decision-making based on limited information.

While channel marketing may see the analytics on a given campaign’s performance — using the metrics on A/B tests to hone their promotional materials and so on — channel managers can serve as a fount of auxiliary information to bring into the fold and inform marketing endeavors. Folding channel manager knowledge into the marketing team’s repertoire can help improve not only sales-directed marketing collateral, but can give the marketing team new and more effective ideas for the brand as a whole.  

Channel managers can help partners share what they learn in the field. Partners communicate directly with customers, giving them unique perspectives about content effectiveness with various audiences. In fact, if they hail from a different industry or geography than the vendor really understands, partners may be the best inside source at your disposal!

Pair Partner Insights With Performance Metrics

Qualitative insights aren’t the only item in a partner manager’s toolbox; some partner portals enable them to measure engagement and assisted conversions to make informed content decisions. The right data can help channel managers and marketers deduce:

  • Which content marketing themes and mediums resulted in deal registrations?
  • Which of the above registered deals eventually converted?
  • Which marketing messaging resonates best with specific groups?
  • Which marketing materials do partners gravitate towards?

Partner managers and channel managers should not necessarily base important content marketing decisions on these KPIs, alone. Instead, unexpected data points can steer conversations with partners to root out opportunities for improvements.

Quicker Wins For Channel Managers

Like the partners they support, channel managers have a lot on their plate. So encouraging them to be flag bearers for channel marketing programs might require suggesting some winning tactics. Here are a few: 

  • Share other partners’ real results. As the old saying goes: show, don’t tell. Advise channel managers to disclose partners’ victories with other program participants and outline key steps they took (including the utilized content marketing materials). This vouches for the effectiveness of your strategies and makes exciting sales goals seem all the more achievable. 
  • Advocate for co-branding. Remind channel managers that the option to put their logo next to yours on an attractive document will make some partners salivate. Suddenly, the promotion of the documents not only elevates your brand but theirs as well.
  • Make clear who should receive the materials and when. Whether it’s through manual file organization or automated playbooks, recommend that channel managers coach partners on when to share marketing materials and with whom. If done correctly, they should see immediate benefits in their prospecting conversations, further spurring them to share content.
  • Clear away barriers to utilizing content. There are many reasons partners may choose not to promote a company’s content marketing, so partner managers should take action to minimize any excuse. Pin important materials to the main portal page or send partners regular reminders so they don’t forget about their existence. Organize your content library so it’s easy to find (rather than buried). If appropriate, conduct training within the portal or in-person to ensure partners understand the materials.

Keywords

Channel Marketing