What is channel marketing and how can you do it right?Posted on December 18th, 2018 by Mark Stecker
What is channel marketing?
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could focus on making your product perfect, while other people did the hard work of selling? Essentially, that’s what channel marketing is.
Channel marketing is the practice of working with a third party to take your products or services to market. It's a faster and more effective method than more traditional growth models, and it can be productive for businesses—large and small—across multiple industries.
For example, a company that manufactures construction equipment generally sells directly to consumers through its website, catalogs, and internal reps. However, in most cases that company will also rely on privately owned dealerships and resellers to market and sell its products. This is channel marketing and those dealerships are channel partners.
What are the advantages of using channel partners and channel marketing? And how can you avoid the pitfalls?
The benefits of channel marketing for your business.
Channel marketing is a broad term that can include several different types of partnerships. This gives businesses flexibility in how they choose to implement the strategy. So, why should your business consider it?
- It's cost-effective. One of the most enticing aspects of channel marketing is that it's a lot cheaper than maintaining the internal headcount necessary to generate the same reach.
- It increases brand recognition. Working with affiliates and industry leaders allows your brand to be broadcast on a local megaphone. If, for example, one of your channel partners is a well-known company, your company and your product receive the endorsement of their goodwill and earned customer trust. Channel marketing is like a personal recommendation, giving your product an instant boost in credibility.
- It creates greater volume and variety in marketing campaigns. Channel partners often do their own marketing. The truth is, your marketing department probably doesn't have the resources to test out all of the different marketing strategies your channel partners can provide, and even if they could, they wouldn't work exactly the same for your company as they do for a third party with a different audience base.
Channel strategies give you a boost in efficiency and reach that wouldn't be attainable internally.
The challenges you face in channel marketing.
Only 30% of marketers believe their use of marketing technology completely aligns to their marketing strategy.
While channel marketing offers a lot of bang for your buck, it's only effective when it's done right. For every benefit you can reap from an excellent channel marketing strategy, there are obstacles you'll need to be prepared to work around.
For example, how do you maintain a consistent brand message and identity when working with widely differing and distributed channel partners? It’s not uncommon for channel partners to produce their own marketing materials and advertisements. This benefits your brand by providing marketing reach that would otherwise be difficult to achieve. However, it can also be damaging if they produce content that’s noncompliant or inconsistent with your brand.
Additionally, there are a few of the other challenges you'll need to overcome to successfully navigate this strategy:
- Lack of access to analytics. Each of your channel partners will be using their own platforms. Many won't provide analytics or any type of reporting on how they're marketing, making it difficult to visualize the effectiveness of their campaigns.
- Less advanced marketing strategies. Your partners may be individuals or smaller companies who don't use the most advanced platforms or sophisticated marketing strategies.
- Lack of expertise and/or staff. This doesn't make them unfit to be partners—they often still offer a reach you wouldn't realize without them. But it can make it more difficult to gather the right insights and feedback from them. Since they aren’t expert marketers, they’re less likely to know how to track results or understand why a particular promotion is performing well.
- Lack of control. This one was previously mentioned, but it bears repeating. Each of your partners will be amplifying your brand and lending you their credibility, but it's a double-edged sword. If they put out inaccurate or noncompliant messaging, that can blow back negatively on your brand and business.
How to develop an effective channel marketing strategy.
45% of respondents cited content production workflow as a significant challenge to strategic content management.
Channel marketing is an excellent strategy to leverage, but you need to be prepared to counteract the challenges for it to be effective. Each channel offers the potential to engage varied audiences, increase reach, and encounter different obstacles. Developing an effective strategy will be a long-term effort that can reap massive rewards.
The best way to gain control of your channel marketing initiatives is to find tools that allow channel partners to customize and utilize the marketing materials you produce as effectively as possible. This keeps your brand consistent, no matter which partner is promoting your services.
With better oversight and access to analytics, it's easier to see the ROI at a glance and streamline the process. You'll also ease the stress caused by accidental unsubstantiated promises or misrepresentations made by third parties on behalf of your brand.
Contact Triptych today and find out how our through-channel marketing automation platform can help you empower your channel partners to build a better, faster, more productive channel marketing strategy and help you master your channel marketing initiatives.
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