It was a jammed, packed day at the Channel Focus North America with Latin America conference in Miami today. In it’s sixteenth year the conference brings together leading channel executives to debate the future direction of Channels in the IT/Telecom industries and to share the key strategies/tactics they are using to drive their indirect businesses.

Here are some of the highlights from day one.

It started with breakfast and a great keynote, “Today’s Channel, A Reality Check” from Bill Griffin, VP Worldwide Channel Sales at Autodesk. He focused on three key areas important to success for suppliers.

1. Listen to your customers
2. Listen to your channel
3. Listen to those who have been there before

The Five Golden Rules

The Five Golden Rules of Partner MarketingAttending this conference for the first time, I was interested in the Workshop Series, which many attendees have mentioned as the most engaging activities from previous years. These 1-hour sessions are intimate (about 20 -25 participants) and include a facilitator that helps drive the discussion. The facilitator prepares their “Five Golden Rules” on the topic, but is only there to initiate conversation and encourage participation.

What an excellent opportunity to network and learn from your peers.

Of course the workshop I was most interested in attending was all about Partner Marketing and led by Zift Solutions COO, Bryan Ferren. Here are the “Five Golden Rules” that were the basis for the discussion and some of the key inputs:

1) Keep It Simple

Make it easy for partners to participate in your marketing programs. Ideas included:

  • Campaign in a box
  • Execution engine
  • Focus on the 1st step in the sales process
  • Smaller/Focused events
  • Recipe Book – who to target and how to use

2) Collaborate

Work with your partners to ensure campaigns promote the partners’ value proposition to their prospects. Ideas included:

  • Enable customization of collateral
  • Share trends with partners and non-product specific points
  • Deliver “bite size” components of content
  • Start with understanding the partner business and compensation models
  • Focus on both the vertical and high-level solutions

3) Integrate Multiple Tactics

Deliver various tactics that support the ways prospects choose to learn about your offerings. Ideas included:

  • Provide partners with access to marketing automation tools
  • Consider access to agency support that handles multiple tactics including key areas such as social media
  • Incent education within partner organizations and include rewards for partner participation

4) Drive Adoption

Focus your time and energy to ensure partners are leveraging the campaigns you develop for them.

  • Consider cross-partner competition (at the rep level) for campaign execution and leveraging new products
  • Ensure ease of use in ordering and execution

5) Measure

Actively measure pipeline activity through partner marketing campaigns to know what is working and what is not.

  • Ensure visibility into the activities by partners
  • Competition requires reporting on pipeline activity to be successful
  • Confirm results reporting from partners that leverage agencies

Finally, the sessions wrapped up with an engaging panel that discussed “The Changing Shape and Role of the Channel.” The group included suppliers, partners and Zift Solutions CEO, Ken Romley. There were a lot of great points shared, but the key discussion surrounded the idea that the landscape is changing. Customers are ultimately driving the change and in order to be successful, you better understand their needs.

Wow! That’s a lot to consume in one day. Be sure to check back again tomorrow. We’ll post a wrap up of day two.

What are your thoughts on the 5 golden rules? Did you attend the event? If so, what else did you learn? Let us know in the comments section below!