As a channel marketer, marketing to and through complex routes to markets is very challenging. You have to make sure your partner programme and activities fit each category of partners, and god only knows (it seems) how many different types there are out there; all with different skills, resources, interests, reach, customer bases, etc.
One of the key issues you face is how to generate leads – for your organisation and partners – in such a complex ecosystem. AND you need to make sure these leads are passed to the correct partners, handled properly and closed!
It’s clearly not as simple as if your organisation was selling direct and if you were in charge of your own destiny. Oh no… it’s much tougher!!!
There are a number of traditional ways to generate business leads. I would like to highlight the issues each of these cause:
SEM – Search engine marketing continues to be the ‘go-to’ marketing channel for most marketers and businesses. Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns can be highly effective, but also expensive and very time consuming. But that’s not all, what do you do with the demand generated? Unless you have an effective way of capturing leads from SEM through your website, and share these leads with your partners (how robust is your ‘Partner Locator’?), then you are wasting time, literally. What I mean is that you are lengthening the sales cycle by a) taking these leads generated, b) qualifying them yourself, c) passing them on to your channel partners and d) letting them close these deals.
So is SEM ideal to drive demand? NO!
Email Marketing – Email marketing, another cornerstone of the marketers’ arsenal is still an effective marketing channel, but has a number of fundamental flaws. Firstly, unless you have a good database of customers and prospects, it is likely that you will need to purchase data, which is expensive, and risky. Then there’s how to target the data, and manage your campaigns. A basic stand-alone database with campaign management and analytics tools will set you back tens of thousands of pounds, and considerably more if you want something a little more sophisticated and refined.
With click-rates of under 1%, there is a danger that this type of marketing could actually do more harm to your brand than good, and with the same issue as SEM – what do you do with interest generated,-the results rarely reflect or justify the effort.
So are mass email marketing campaigns ideal to drive demand? NO!
Direct Social Media – Most companies typically start their social media voyage by creating their own Twitter handles, LinkedIn Company Pages, Facebook Fanpages, YouTube channels, etc. Sadly, because they cannot guarantee who is following them, and because they cannot restrict access or target content, they cannot use these tools as effective demand generation platforms. Engagement from followers is historically poor. Again as with SEM and Email marketing, should interest from buyers be generated, how do you deal with it and route this to your partners?
So are ‘Direct’ social media activities ideal to drive demand? NO!
Co-Branding with your sales partners – ‘Co-marketing’ is a classic channel marketing tactic. I’ve seen it work very well – for the ‘larger partners’ – but in all honesty most fail. They fail because they generally are expensive to do (for the brands/ vendors), and partners rarely have the time, expertise and resources to run these programmes, no matter how simple you have made them. Then there’s the issue of your partners not willing to share their prospect list with you (they still don’t trust you) or even organise a campaign around just your products and brand (they would prefer to market their own broader offering).
So is co-marketing ideal to drive demand? It COULD be (helping your partners create their own demand would minimise problems and delays).
So what’s the solution?
Something I’ve mentioned a few times before; social media amplification!
Think about creating social media content, sharing this with your partners (and/or employees), and letting them post this content to their own accounts as their own content (see diagram below).
This multiplies your reach exponentially, and supports your partners in the social space. And, if you do this well and if you make it simple for partners, like we do via our own and unique platform – socialondemand®, then you’ll guarantee a very high participation/ engagement rate from your partners.
Putting it simply, there are just none of the drawbacks with social media amplification as there are with your other marketing activities.
- It’s cheaper that SEM, coming in at a Cost-Per-Click (CPC) of £0.06-£0.23.
- It’s more effective than any email lead generation campaign with click rates of 5 to 20%. This is mainly because a) you are not spamming anyone, b) it’s social and c) you are leveraging the trust that already exists between your partners and their followers.
- You shorten the sales cycle by generating interest where it matters, i.e. between the prospective buyers (the end-users who read your content) and the sellers (your partners).
If you would like to see how social media amplification could work for you, please send me an email, or call me. Alternatively, listen to my latest brief talk/ webinar about this topic.