Channel Marketing Strategies: Long Term Initiatives for Success
“Marketing doesn’t work.”
“I tried it a few times, and didn’t get enough leads.”
“I don’t have time to create content for that.”
Sound familiar? Of course it does. Channel partners frequently get frustrated at quick, incomplete marketing efforts. Unfortunately, there are a large number of partners who have insufficient funds and/or time to adequately create and execute a complete marketing campaign, let alone a full program. On the rare occasions that these partners take the time to craft such a campaign, they’re disappointed with the immediate results, and don’t care to make a second attempt.
This isn’t all that surprising, really. It’s extremely rare for a single marketing campaign to yield impressive results when there is a longer sales cycle involved. After all, marketing is more complicated than the idea that brand awareness will directly lead to a sale.
You have to create a relationship with your customers based on insights, information, and ideation. In order to convert your efforts to sales, your customers must understand the benefits they will reap from your products and services.
This is generally the outcome of a long-term, drip-feed marketing campaign that hits prospects month after month, keeping the partner and their solutions top of mind.
The problem? Long-term marketing requires patience. That is not a trait frequently found in some of the most successful business people I know. People want results, and quickly, before they pull the plug and reallocate those resources towards something they’re more confident in.
However, channel marketing doesn’t have to be that exasperating. There are a few key things that brands and partners alike should keep in mind when designing a successful marketing program.
IT purchases have a long sales cycle
IT buyers don’t normally make major investments in new hardware, software or cloud solutions at the drop of a hat simply because they saw a neat marketing email. It shouldn't be surprising that simple one-time marketing emails don't yield results in the IT industry.
The purchase cycle for the typical enterprise buyer is between two and six months. It begins with the buyer’s recognition of their IT need, followed with months of thorough research and assessment of the competing options available.
People need frequent reminders
All brands know this. Think of all the product placement you’ve seen in movies, tv shows, etc. Can you name the candy used in the movie E.T. to bring E.T. out of hiding? No brainer – Reese’s Pieces.
Anyone with marketing experience knows that brand awareness is good – it’s getting you to remember those brands at the time of need that is important. Brand recognition will not happen with a single marketing campaign.
As I previously mentioned, in the IT industry, we’re dealing with a long sales cycle. It should go without saying that for a channel partner to stay top of mind during those months of research is important – no, imperative. How would that be possible if they only sent a single campaign?
Email is not enough
Partners and vendors alike should take advantage of multiple marketing mediums to stay in front of prospective buyers. Emails, social media, blogs, and thought leadership content are just a few of those. Some vendors offer or participate in robust marketing solutions that not only create content, but help distribute this content across multiple mediums.
Social media, and LinkedIn in particular, is a great way to reach a large number of prospective buyers. Many buyers engage on LinkedIn to interact professionally and find information that is useful to their occupations. This platform offers a particularly ripe opportunity for sharing thought leadership content and information about new products.
Equally important is keeping tabs on how prospective buyers are interacting with the content. By monitoring statistics such as clicks, engagement, and shares, channel partners should be able to notice trends and gain critical insights into the types of products that are most likely to appeal to them.
Insights can bring higher conversion rates
One of the most important parts of a consistent, drip-feed channel marketing campaign is monitoring the statistics and metrics from the campaigns. Some of the channel marketing service providers offer actionable, frequent insights into the campaigns they orchestrate on the channel partners’ behalf. For instance, they keep an eye on which types of content the buyers are clicking on most frequently, as well as which topics yield the highest number of leads.
Metrics like these help develop strong customer profiles. Multi-touch, targeted campaigns work best with complete customer profiles that are well-established. Of course, that takes time. A well-developed, accurate profile is based on the behavior you observer from buyers through their repeated interaction with the partners’ marketing campaigns.
Sustained, positive contact leads to greater trust
The goal of any channel marketing campaign is not just to showcase a channel partners’ products, but to prove to end-buyers that the partner is best-positioned to serve their needs due to their expertise and commitment to customer service.
The key to accomplishing this is a long-term engagement with buyers, through sharing high-quality content, and by reaching out to those buyers directly. The channel partners can – and will – earn the buyers’ trust by delivering timely, relevant advice tailored to the buyers’ needs. As long as they're willing to invest the time.
About the Author
This was a contributed blog post from Joel Montgomery, CEO of OneAffiniti, a platform-enabled marketing solutions provider. OneAffiniti offers channel partners hands-off, sophisticated marketing services fully funded by some of the largest brands across the globe. Through a mix of high-quality digital marketing, innovative content, promotions and insights, OneAffiniti helps channel partners acquire new clients and engage their existing customers.