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Why is Channel Marketing More Challenging than Traditional Marketing?

Why is Channel Marketing More Challenging than Traditional Marketing?

In previous blogs focused on channel marketing, we’ve discussed what channel marketing is, why it’s beneficial, how to do it right, and even a few of the challenges it presents; along with the assertion that Channel marketing is more challenging than ‘regular’ (or traditional) marketing. However, we’ve never quite explained why channel marketing is more difficult.

Simply put, channel marketing is like traditional marketing’s teenage older sibling—it’s bigger and far more complex. The two are related—their driving forces are the same—but like two children in different stages of development, they differ in the intensity and number of challenges they present. To truly understand this analogy, you must first understand the general challenges that the two methods share.

Similarities among Siblings

Much like siblings share some of the same traits due to their relation, traditional and channel marketing share some of the same challenges due their relation. Both tactics face difficulties such as,

  • Managing a growing number of marketing channels
  • A high demand to create and deliver relevant messaging and materials
  • Great pressure to continuously optimize marketing operation productivity

Between developing plans to establish their brand in emerging marketing channels, creating a great amount of tailored material, and searching for areas to improve upon, marketing managers in both practices have enough on their plate to make their heads spin. But, even though the two tactics share these challenges, the size and complexity of channel marketing magnifies their level of difficulty.

Why channel marketing is more challenging than traditional marketing: intensity & quality

  1. Even the challenges that are shared between the two are reason for Channel marketing’s higher level of difficulty. Channel marketers must juggle all the above challenges with each of their channel partners. So, in theory, if an organization works with five channel partners, they must find a solution to these problems in five separate instances—intensifying their difficulty fivefold.
  2. In addition to the amplified level of difficulty of the initial challenges, channel marketing also comes with an entirely new set of challenges that traditional marketing doesn’t present. These include:
    1. Lack of expertise and resources
    2. Insufficient marketing strategies
    3. Difficulty maintaining brand consistency
    4. Inability to measure local marketing performance

These may sound familiar if you’ve been following our blog for some time, but they’re worth revisiting as they are still relevant challenges that channel marketers face today, a couple of years later. Let’s dive into them a bit


a. Lack of Expertise and resources

The small size of channel partners allows them to create deep relationships with their customers and increase your product/service reach. That’s great, right? Well, yes and no. Advantages often come with their own disadvantages. One being that the small size of their organization also means less staff to dedicate to running effective marketing campaigns. If they can run marketing campaigns, they probably still don’t have the expertise to recognize why one promotion outperforms another. Their lack of knowledge and resources generally results in underutilization of provided marketing materials and low brand engagement.


b. Difficulty maintaining brand consistency

It’s not uncommon, or even inherently damaging, for partners to produce their own materials and advertisements. In fact, their efforts will be an advantage to brand awareness and credibility. However, just as with the advantages of a small organization, this advantage also comes with it’s own disadvantage. With a large distributed network of partners all creating their own materials, the possibility of inconsistent brand and regulatory compliance increases greatly. The failure to control compliance across all distributed channels can be significantly damaging to your brand and business.


c. Inability to measure local marketing performance

This particular challenge is influenced by the lack of expertise and resources. If your partners have the staff to run a marketing campaign but lack the technological resources to track effectiveness and report results, it’ll be difficult for you to visualize the effectiveness of their regional marketing programs. Furthermore, without the technology to compile data, you won’t benefit from data driven insights that are necessary to inform and improve future materials and activities. This leads to an arsenal of marketing materials that is overflowing and outdated because there is no process for removing outdated and ineffective materials.


d. Insufficient marketing strategies

Small organizations don’t generally need all the platforms and advanced technology that larger organizations utilize to manage, execute, and track their marketing campaigns. Without the same sophisticated tools, your partners may not be able to carry out some of your more involved marketing campaigns. This means that channel marketers must either create individual campaigns with each partner’s abilities in mind or provide the technology or platform for them that will allow them to execute more elaborate campaigns.

Succeed with Software

All in all, it’s plain to see why channel marketing is more difficult than traditional marketing. It may seem like an obvious fact, but truly understanding the reasons for its increased level of difficulty is important for understanding the increasing significance of Through-Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA) software. The intensification of existing marketing challenges in culmination with the unique challenges of channel marketing are some of the driving factors that are making TCMA and other Channel software an absolute necessity rather than a luxury.

To learn more about channel software and how you can begin your search for a platform that will advance with the field check our blog The Channel is advancing—make sure your channel software is too

If you’re struggling to find a solution to any of these challenges in your own channel partner program, check out our Channel Partner Guide or speak to one of our experts.

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