communicationIn today’s competitive environment billions of dollars annually are poured into corporate marketing. Fortune 500 companies are hiring teams of the best and brightest to make their brand stand out and be unique. However, as these corporate entities have begun building relationships and having partners utilize the products and services they offer, a new model has developed. Whether the entity is giving their partners MDF, or providing syndicated marketing content, the focus has shifted. No longer is marketing all about building the corporate brand. The attention must now be shared – welcome to the world of channel marketing!

Working in project management, I’ve had the opportunity to see dozens of campaigns created from clients in the technology industry, to security, software, telecommunications and Fortune 500. I’ve worked on a single send email, to an entire annual marketing initiative, and yet the struggle that often remains is the ability for companies to lose the “self” marketing mindset.

With through partner marketing, although the promotional aspects are of course related to the “Supplier’s” corporate products or services, the larger picture is to focus the messaging, offers and branding around the partner. At the end of the day, the success of the partner, means the success of the supplier.

To keep the focus “partner-centric” there are a few things to keep in mind when developing the next set of marketing initiatives.

This Email is Not about You

Time and time again, when campaign planning moves into the production phase, there is the first instance where the content is read and reviewed. The most important thing to remember is that this email is going to a contact list within the partner’s database. An email saying “Supplier company is the leading provider of XYZ product in the industry” or “Read the latest from supplier company” is not relevant to the partner. The end user, with potentially no relationship to the supplier, can be confused. Remember, they opted-in for communications from the partner, not from the corporate entity.

Share the Website Traffic

One of the easiest things to fix in the through partner marketing world, is the website that users are directed to. Remember, the goal of the initiative is to drive traffic for the partner. Have the URLs always link back to content on the partner’s website. Let the contact information, address, phone numbers, signatures, everything be about the partner. There is no reason that an email Call-To-Action (CTA) should ever click to a corporate page. Remember, the whole reason to engage in channel marketing is to provide promotional opportunities for the partner.

The Partner’s Greatest Asset

When possible, allow the partners to take claim to the offers available in the campaigns. If there is an email with a whitepaper, allow the opportunity for the partner to add their logo and contact information to it. Co-branding print media is an easy way to boost partner credibility, while maintaining “supplier” promotion. Direct mail pieces, data sheets, infographics, brochures, and eBooks all have potential to become partner facing. Think about it, doesn’t it seem a little random to receive an email from a partner with an eBook written by a company that isn’t even sending the email? If you have a video or SlideShare on your website that is valuable content, don’t link to it, instead allow the core files to be embedded within the syndicated landing page. Never drive traffic away from the partner.

Think Like a Partner

Perhaps the largest area of disconnect in the channel marketing environment is one that would assume to be elementary: provide content that is relevant to the partner. Although there may be an industry buzz around one topic, put yourself in your partner’s shoes and make sure it is something they would be interested in. Often times thousands of dollars are spent developing a marketing campaign that unfortunately flops. The lack of partner adoption can usually be summed up easily, “I don’t feel like that is content my customer’s would be interested in.”

Don’t Ask Your Team, Ask Their Team

Lastly, so often in launch calls and strategy planning meetings, organizations ask their team about what marketing campaigns they think they should create for the partners. It is at this moment that a clear answer seems to hang in space, “Ask the partner!” As discussed in a previous post you cannot have high levels of adoption without relationships with your partners. This is another great opportunity to reach out to them and let them know that syndicated content and materials are being developed and then ask them, “If you were to launch a new marketing initiative to your customers tomorrow, what would you want it to entail?” and then sit and listen.

Remember, there is no point in engaging in channel marketing if you aren’t going to set up your partner’s for success. Provide them the tools they need to launch to their customers and if you’re not sure exactly what that includes, ask them.