22 February – Nice pants, but where can I get some?

Many organisations feel pretty smug that their social media strategy is ticking along nicely, regularly pumping out content to a tidy little band of prospects and customers around the globe. Sorted. Or is it?

 

There’s one critical thing missing from virtually every piece of direct social media content… the ‘where to buy’.

 

Imagine the scenario… you’re so keen to see the last instalment of your favourite TV show that you are prepared to put up with the multitude of adverts. Just as you are losing the will to live, the virtues of the next best line in underpants grabs your attention, you’re hooked, you want some.  But the advertiser leaves you hanging (literally)… they fail to tell you where to buy some. You have to work it out for yourself, a task which rapidly gets forgotten as your programme starts up again.

 

My point is that organisations with an indirect route to market (channel partners, dealers, agents, etc.) are guilty of this too.  They communicate directly with their target audience using social media (amongst other media), but, because they need to remain impartial, they don’t offer their audience ‘a source’ of their products or services in their content. Epic fail.

 

So what’s the answer to closing the sales loop using social media?  If you deploy an indirect route to market, with multiple partners representing your brand and supplying your products, why not give them the power to communicate your messaging for you? Give your partners the social media content you are currently pushing out directly; you are even able to target your content to specific segments of partners depending on their different audiences.

 

Not only will you reach your partners’ followers, you’ll be doing your partners a huge favour in driving more business their way AND you’ll make it a heck of a lot easier for your prospects and customers to make a purchase.

 

Have a look at social content syndication tools for the channel. It’s a new solution… a radical one… an option that will change the way you market through your sales partners.

 

I know a good platform: socialondemand… but then, I am biased

 

Oh look… the pants you want, in the colour you like, in the size you need, from a store in your town.  Bingo.

18 February – Time to take email away from employees?

 

Have you stopped your people hitting the send button or answering the phone?  Hopefully not, but if you trust your employees enough to communicate so readily over email and on the phone, isn’t it time you gave them more freedom to communicate via social media?

 

Social media shouldn’t just be the narrow domain of your marketing department, it is for everyone, at least everyone who is involved with your customers and channel partners – and your brand values are at their strongest when they are humanised throughout your organisation.

 

Before a panic attack kicks in, just hear me out.

 

You want to create one brand, one voice for your organisation, right?  A unified, influential and inspiring voice that drives positive associations for everything you stand for. Your people are ready and waiting to help you achieve this….

 

Think about the multi-level relationships between your organisation, your customers and your sales intermediaries (channel partners, dealers, agents and other influencers).  You trust nearly every individual in your organisation to communicate ‘with common sense’ to them on a daily basis – so why shouldn’t Clive in Channels, or Steve in Sales become part of your social media voice too? They are all very likely to have significant LinkedIn networks.

 

It’s not as much of a challenge as you might think.  To do this, your people will need two things: Common sense and content.

 

Common sense comes from employing the right people in the first place; underpinned by a social media ‘policy’ that gives them the support to ‘speak’ within parameters that work for you.   Secondly, you need to empower your employees with the right content, at the right time, relevant to their followers so that they are able to post to their social media networks with confidence and ease.

 

So keep the email and the phone for now, undoubtedly they still are invaluable if privacy and confidentiality is required, but maybe it’s time to entrust more of your people with one social media voice that lets your organisation shine 360O.

 

Have look at social content syndication tools for your employees and sales partners. It’s a new solution… a radical one… an option that will change the way you market through your solutions.

 

I know a good platform: socialondemand… but then, I am biased.

11 February – Campaigns on demand – is it worth the effort?

Providing channel partners with collateral and an online platform that allows them to co-brand, dispatch and track marketing campaigns may sound like a great idea but realistically how many resellers actually use them?

 

Come on, really, you know what I’m saying. Loads of extra work with no or very little reward. Why bother?

 

In my 20+ years in the channel, I have never seen a successful online co-marketing service/ programme! Maybe I have been looking at the wrong vendors, or maybe this type of campaign actually just doesn’t work. Having attended the Sirius Decisions Channel Technology and Services Panel Survey in January, I am inclined to say most would agree with me. But why?

 

Barriers, barriers and more barriers…

 

For those who don’t have a dedicated marketing team, i.e. the small, often local resellers, online co-branding services should provide a perfect solution for those who want to increase their marketing activity and raise their end-user brand awareness. For them the best part is all of the content, images and translations have been paid for by the vendor and are free.

 

But for those with an internal marketing team or the support of an external agency, what benefit will they see from this automated service? Not much…

 

Add to this the fact that most channel partners work with tens of suppliers; is pushing one vendor message really worth the extra effort? Most resellers would prefer to either (best option) push their own brand and messaging or (second best option) market multiple suppliers at the same time, which is very often a no-no, as far as you are concerned!

 

Let’s also not forget that most channel partners do not like to share their customer data too… This is just one of the hoops that you’ll have to jump through. You’ll need to create specific terms and conditions, with NDA clauses, or you’ll have to work through a third party agency and provide a completely ‘outsourced’ campaign on demand/ co-marketing service.

 

For you, the vendor, life won’t be easy. There is the increased workload and cost associated with creating channel to end-user versions of all the collateral. This can include new variations of direct mails, emails, brochures, etc. plus translations – none of which come cheap and all of which will increase the time it takes to get a campaign up and running. Often this will mean that you’ll only be able to create ‘campaigns’ perhaps four times a year (at best)… not very ‘real-time’, is it?

 

And then, there is the ‘spamming issue’… critically, are end-users actually reading the untargeted emails they get sent? And can you tell 100% whether the leads are generated by the telemarketing campaigns that follow or just by the co-branded marketing elements themselves?

 

Time for something new?

 

Whilst I believe there is still a place for informative emails (as long as they are targeted and relevant), isn’t it time vendors think outside the box when planning or creating end-user campaigns?

 

Which media will make the biggest impact, the highest response and more importantly, generate the most sales? With budgets being more and more scrutinised, spending and getting a good return on investment is imperative today (always was, but we managed to avoid tracking).

 

In the rapidly-evolving world of social media, already affecting B2C and now B2B customers, is the need for ‘traditional’ campaign on demand platforms and programmes still valid and real?

 

Tools such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn prove time and time again that word of mouth and personal recommendations carry far more weight and credibility than most marketing campaigns.

 

The benefit of many social media tools is the simplicity with which the messages are conveyed – there are no fancy HTML headers or space-consuming images, just factual text by one individual or company.

 

Is there a way you, the vendor, can have access to your channel partners’ end-user audience and deliver your message to them, easily (for your partners) and cost-effectively (for you)?

 

The plug.

 

Have a look at social content syndication tools for the channel. They are a new solution… a radical one… an option that will change the way you market through your channel partners.

 

I know a good platform, actually a great one: socialondemand… but then, I am biased

06 February – Internet security vendors and social media: It’s all about timing!

Internet security vendors pride themselves on their ability to identify and reduce the volume of viruses, internet threats and cyber attacks that occur. They strive to provide 100% protection for their customers’ most valuable asset – their data!

 

Given the increasingly large fines levied by governments for data breaches, it is imperative that all security vendors have a slick communications vehicle, which can quickly, accurately and efficiently let customers know – wherever they are -what attacks are happening and provide critical advice to their customers on how to protect themselves against them.

 

Time is of the essence.

 

For many of our internet security customers, the time it would take marketing departments to create, translate and distribute an email to their channel would be just too long. They need to act far quicker and in a far less obtrusive way than email (spamming customers would go against all these vendors’ beliefs).

 

Social media allows all levels of company employees to communicate instantly. A CTO can fire out a short, sharp message which instantly goes out to its audience, who in turn can re-use the content to let others know what is happening and what to do about it.

 

With regard to Internet security, it is virtually impossible to know what schemes or threats the sophisticated hacker community will come up with next, let alone know when they will strike. But imagine how much your customers would value your posts, it they were available in real-time and were provided from a trusted source, i.e. the PC reseller or retailer they bought your antivirus and anti-malware solution from? No fluffy spam emails with endless links – just the facts, when you need them.

 

Sounds too good to be true?

 

Using social media content syndication tools for the channel, you can leverage the trust that exists between your channel partners and their contacts… You can turn your ‘rich marketing content’ or ‘urgent virus alerts’ into social media leads for your channel partners.

 

Want to know more? Check out socialondemand® from purechannelapps™.

 

By Olivier Choron, CEO and Founder, purechannelapps.