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? In a nutshell, 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. This method can be faster and more effective than more traditional growth models. And it can work well for businesses large and small across multiple industries.
For example, a company that manufactures construction equipment will generally sell directly to consumers through its website, catalogs, and reps. But, in most cases that company will also rely on privately owned dealerships and resellers to market and sell its products. These dealerships are channel partners.
What are the advantages of using channel partners? And how can you avoid the pitfalls?
The benefits of channel marketing for your business.
Channel marketing is a broad term that can mean many different types of partnerships. This gives businesses flexibility in how they choose to implement the strategy. Why should your business consider it?
- It's cost-effective. One of the most enticing aspects of the strategy is that it's a lot cheaper than hiring the number of employees who could generate the same amount of reach.
- It increases your brand recognition. Working with affiliates and industry leaders means that your brand will be broadcast on their megaphone. If, for example, one of your channel partners is a well-known company, their goodwill and customer trust rubs off on your company and your product. Channel marketing is almost like a personal recommendation, giving your product instant credibility.
- It gives greater volume and variety in marketing campaigns. Your channel partners will be doing their own marketing. The truth is that your marketing department likely wouldn't have the chance to test out all of these different marketing strategies and they wouldn't work exactly the same way 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 you wouldn't be able to attain alone.
The challenges you face in channel marketing.
51% of marketers can’t react to new channels, devices, trends or competitors using their current tech.
While channel marketing offers a lot of bang for your buck, it's only effective if it's done right. For every benefit you can reap from an excellent channel marketing strategy, there are a few obstacles you'll need to be prepared to work around.
For example, how can you maintain a consistent brand message and identity when working with different channel partners? It’s not uncommon for your channel partners to produce their own materials and advertisements. This is good since it gives your marketing reach that it wouldn’t otherwise have. But, it can be very bad when they produce content that’s noncompliant or inconsistent with your brand.
Here 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, so it's 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 and sophisticated marketing strategies.
- They simply don't have the expertise or staff. This doesn't make them bad partners—they often offer a reach that you wouldn't have access to without them. But it can make it harder to get the right insights and feedback from them. Since they aren’t expert marketers, they’re less likely to understand why a particular promotion is going well or know how to track results.
- Lack of control. This one was mentioned above, but it bears repeating. Each of your partners will be amplifying your brand and lending you their credibility, but it's a two-way street. If they put out inaccurate or noncompliant messaging, that can rub off on your brand and business.
How to develop an effective channel marketing strategy.
49% of marketers need help from IT whenever they want to add, edit, or manage content.
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 a different audience, reach, and potential 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 use 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 decrease the worry over a third party accidentally making promises or misspeaking on your behalf.
Are you interested in empowering your channel partners to build a better, faster, more productive channel marketing strategy? Contact Triptych today and find out how our service can help you master your channel marketing initiatives.