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How you can maximise partner marketing in a changing world

With the economy set to rise up dramatically in the second half of 2021 – channel marketers need to prepare.

And yet 2020 was a huge year for business change. With the fallout of the pandemic, we’re all still adapting to new ways of working. Some of the tried and tested routes to lead generation are simply no longer as effective as they used to be.

In person events are few and still difficult to plan for. Online attention spans are short. Webinars can be poorly attended. Customer demand has shifted to automation, cloud acceleration, customer and employee experience, e-commerce and marketplaces. Add to this the need to manage spend effectively and the increasing focus on measurement and metrics around MDF funds – not to mention the spotlight is on channel marketers in both distributors and vendors to optimise and scale effectively.

Now is a good time to revitalise your channel strategy, put the power in your partners hands, and ensure your message to the market reaches and resonates.

Consultative approach and lead generation

With multiple resellers chasing the same organisations, it can be difficult to track where leads are coming from, creating tension across the channel. As a result, we’re seeing increased end user demand for a more consultative approach. There is a need for tools that help resellers create engaging, personalised and relevant digital experiences that they can share with their end users, both to drive new business opportunities and to accelerate deals already in the pipeline.

With the move to virtual selling, we need new ways to enable the channel to make it as easy as possible. 40% of resellers say marketing support is their #1 requirement from distributors1 and 60% of channel salespeople find virtual selling “challenging”.2

Investing in effective channel partner marketing tools and programmes can bring great returns. According to Forrester “Through Channel Marketing Automation”, enabling partners of all types to leverage vendor content, messaging, branding, and demand generation initiatives in their local markets is critical to driving a winning customer experience.3 But, what’s the best way to proceed?

Keep it fresh to stay front of mind

We work with many distributors, vendors and resellers. Here are some of the things we see:

1. Keep it simple
Resellers chasing the best possible margins lean towards vendor campaigns that are easy to understand and easier to sell. Many of your channel partners may be selling several brands, including your own, so make it as easy and appealing as possible to prioritise sales of your product or solution.

2. Support consultative selling
By definition, channel sales have widely differing levels of skill and capability. To avoid a race to the bottom pricewise, resellers want to differentiate themselves and enable sales teams with tools that genuinely help them offer greater value to end users.

3. Offer something different
With traditional tools becoming less effective, the challenge is on to offer something that sets you apart – something that empowers sellers and appeals to customers too. Consider what content will genuinely help buyers to make better buying decisions.

4. Provide ‘ready to go’ campaigns
If a campaign is too complex, chances are that they won’t get used. Vendor branding and messaging can lose potency as it travels through the channel. A great way to protect your brand, and avoid diluting or misrepresenting your message, is to provide pre-packaged assets that are fully written, designed and ready for delivery.

5. Give branding options
Co-branding is a popular route for many companies. But needs vary depending on the capabilities of the partner. Some will have little marketing resource or capability – so make it easy for those that don’t have a creative studio or offer a service to easily create co-branded deliverables.

6. Measure performance and generate ROI from MDF
MDF can be prone to leakage and abuse and without proper visibility it’s hard to see which programs are delivering the results. Empowering resellers to transition up your partner programme requires insight into how campaigns are performing.

What sort of partner content should you create?

As we devised a list of assets worth considering in 2021, it became apparent that some items that used to be on the list are no longer relevant. Assets such as event materials, paper datasheets and other physical promotional items, for example. As channel marketing shifts online, there are opportunities to adapt old style documents to new delivery styles, for example choosing digital signage over posters, email over direct mail and online PDF resources over print outs.

To partner and through partner assets

When planning your channel marketing programmes, you need to consider two strands of marketing materials.

‘To partner’ assets: targeted at the partner, themselves. They are designed to communicate your proposition and provide the knowledge to effectively sell your product or solution. Think ‘what’s in it for them?’
‘Through partner’ assets: co-branded materials targeted at the end user that your partner can send out to their own contact database. Positioning and messaging will be different to the ‘to partner’ assets.

Suggested assets checklist

‘To partner’ assets

• Partner programme presentation: a slide deck to describe the market opportunity and partner programme benefits
• A dedicated partner page on your website that outlines the value for partners and how they can get involved
• A short animation to present the opportunity to partners – top level, highly engaging
• Competitive analysis comparing your product/solution to the others in the market
• FAQs
• Brand guidelines and branding assets
• Sales cheat sheets (one page overview) to summarise key messages
• Telesales scripts or guides

‘To customer’ assets

• Self-Assessment Tool – e.g. Fusion Accelerator Toolkit
• A sales presentation that partner account managers can deliver to their prospects
• A one-page solution overview
• Short animation/video – high impact, high engagement
• Website copy and/or landing page copy that the partner can use on their own website
• Blog copy that your partner can adapt and publish themselves
• Webinar offering – pre-prepared materials that the partner can deliver directly
• Value-base assets for landing page such as eBooks, guides and white papers
• Social advertising content
• A packaged campaign kit and suggested campaign flow. Could include: emails, social media content, value-asset, webinar invitation, blog copy
• Offers/incentives for end users

New tools for a new world

Included in our lists is the Fusion Accelerator Toolkit, an out-of-the box tool which enables you to equip the channel with a unique consultative selling tool, and the assets to match. There’s a monthly cost, it’s easy to set up and cost effective to scale to more resellers. Here are a few of the other benefits:

• Results can be tracked within the platform and integrated to CRM or automation platforms
• Captures insight and delivers qualified leads to ensure you get the lion’s share of their sales effort
• A dashboard where resellers can see at a glance the performance of each individual seller or channel, right down to the level of how many responses each salesperson is generating
• Notifies resellers when a prospect requests a report
• Enables resellers to customise marketing materials quickly and easily, and enables tiered access to those who can make changes, keeping the brand and messaging under tight control

To find out more about how the Fusion Accelerator Toolkit addresses some of today’s marketing pressures, visit our website.

1. Context World ChannelWatch 2020
2. Next Gen Sales Academy
3. The Forrester Wave: Through-Channel Marketing Automation, Q2 2018


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