This is an ongoing concern many companies have. The fact is, when you rely on resellers to sell your products/ services, it is highly important they are kept fully aware of your offerings. You want resellers to shout about your brand, to end users and favour you over competitors.
Easier said than done when they have a number of resellers each fighting for their attention, all wanting to be top dog. So what’s the solution?
Keep it easy! When communicating to your partners, simplicity is the best policy. First of all only provide information that is solely relevant to the receiver. Yes, I know you offer a number of products, and you probably have different levels of partners, so at first glance this can be perceived as difficult to achieve, but it’s not.
>> For email marketing
The best way to ONLY send content that is solely for each partner is to use software, such as newsondemand®. This software allows you to create a single email template, which then automatically alters the content depending on the preference of the receiver. This saves you time creating many different email newsletter variations, and no HTML coding is required. It’s a very cost effective method.
Obviously there are other email marketing software solutions available to you such as mailchimp or Marketo, but it all depends on your requirements and the overall results you are expecting to achieve.
In my opinion the highest targeted approach is always the best.
>>Amplifying your voice on social media
Many brands would like to use their partners’ social media channels to increase their own potential reach. But with reports from Microsoft’s partners suggesting that finding the time to post content is an issue for 80%, this is also easier said than done. Especially if you are looking to achieve a consistent brand message.
Using a social media syndication software such as our very own socialondemand makes the process easier for your partners. It takes away the complexity and time required for them to share your content. By either clicking share or if they choose to edit the post title before hand, your content will appear on all of their desired social networks. Easy. And what’s more it will increase their exposure, maintain a consistent brand message, and increase your potential reach. Let the social selling commence!
Everyone likes an incentive, and like I said if you are really fighting for your partners’ attention, perhaps a stronger reason to interact with your brand will make all the difference. Gartner believes that by 2015, innovation processes will be gamified by at least 50% of organisations that manage innovation processes. So don’t be left behind. Gamification examples include:
•A leader board- showing partners how socially active they are compared to their competitors (who are also your partners). They obviously want to win against their competitors
•Reward- perhaps the partner that promotes your brand the best/ or the partner that has created the highest level of revenue. The reward you provide is up to you, but it has to be worth it to them. Free iPad’s just don’t cut the mustard anymore.
•Status- enlisting names such as gold partners creates a superior mentality, making partners feel privileged. A small change like this could make a huge difference.
•Recognition- Have you thought about giving your partners recognition for their efforts? This could be as simple as promoting their brand on your website, or perhaps praising them for their efforts. Everybody likes to feel appreciated, and it will encourage further commitment in the future.
>> Regular contact
My last point I would like to raise with you is reinforcing the importance of regular contact with all of your partners. I’m not just talking about your top partners, but I am talking about them all. This can be achieved either by scheduling regular face to face meetings or even conversations over the phone. A balance of both of these methods would be ideal. Keeping everyone up to date will make such a difference.
It’s about understanding your partners’ capabilities, listening to their queries and making yourself readily available to their needs. Nobody likes to be ignored. It’s a two way rule, if you make your brand readily available to their needs, by making processes easy and worthwhile, you’ve won!
We all write content that we hope is going to be seen by a wide audience. We expect everyone to be really engaged, reading every last bit. Being shared on numerous platforms for all to see and admire.
But self-promotion on social media is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve. The fact is, unless you’re some kind of genius, or a huge brand, admired and well recognised by many, this is unlikely to occur.
So, what can you do about this?
Step 1: Start with your audience – Who are they and what do you know about them?
Every business has an audience they wish to attract. But how much do you actually know about them? It’s all about the demographics. By understanding exactly who your audience are, you can then leverage a plan to attract them effectively.
Social media and web analytics tools are a great way to achieve this. Information such as location, age, interests, and gender are all aspects which allow you to understand your audience and better market to them. A strategy can then be created to further suit their preferences. This may entail changing the language of your content, the time you share your content to suit their time zones, changing the topics you talk about or perhaps even changing the channels you use to market your brand through.
Step 2: (don’t forget this step) Check what your competitors are doing!
If you are stuck for ideas of where you should be focussing your attention, I would highly recommend conducting some competitor research. Analyse your competitors twitter account; it is highly likely they use this channel to broadcast their other marketing activities. See if these ideas could work for you.
Once you have conducted these 2 initial steps, and by conducting a full analysis into your brand, you will be able to determine what marketing channels will be the most suitable to your audience. This may entail perhaps favouring two social networks, selecting a few targeted blog sites to share your content, communicating in certain forums and appearing in magazines your audience reads. These are all great ways to increase your exposure.
Step 3: Increase your exposure by leveraging the social power of your brand advocates
To increase your brand exposure, go beyond your own social channels. Make sure you leverage the social presence of all of your brand advocates – employees, sales/ channel partners, sponsors, etc. To do this simply, I would highly recommend you put in place an advocacy program and purchase social media collaboration/ syndication software such as our own socialondemand.
How does this help? Social media collaboration software helps brands share content/ posts with their employees, partners and other advocates and makes it easy for these third parties to publish this content as their own. It takes away the complexity and time required for social sharing, making advocates more inclined to share the brands’ content, increasing their own exposure to their brand. It gives them content and broadens your own social media reach, albeit indirectly. It’s a win, win situation for all.
Step 4 (and part of 1, 2 and 3!): Track your results
How do you perform on social media? Make sure you know the answer to this question (there’s really no point in doing social media at all if you don’t know). Many social networks now have analytics tools available to all business profiles. They have varying levels of sophistication, and mainly allow you to track how well each post has performed, and which has received the best engagement. They provide you with a basic overview, but a true comparison comparing results from one month to another, or even annually would not be possible.
Furthermore, whilst your social networks may seem to be performing pretty well, how many clicks are your posts generating? What is the click-through-rate to your website, how many resultant sales? These are all key elements that need to be measured in order to receive a clear overall picture. I’m sure you’re already aware but tools like Google Analytics are great for determining the level of traffic your website is receiving from each social network.
Once you have completed these steps (and do them continuously), you will be able to let your killer content attract the attention it deserves and let the social selling commence!
So in my previous blog posts, I have discussed; the key issues your partners face which prohibit your social media posts from being effectively shared, and the resolutions to these issues. I have also briefly touched upon the importance of providing training to your channel partners. But what sort of training would be adequate for all of your partners? After all they each have varying levels of capabilities.
Here I will describe a full training program that I recommend you implement, not only for your channel partners, but also for your brand advocates. It works for everyone! It is vital they are all equipped for everything social media has to offer, so you can effectively start social selling and reaching a wider audience.
Get all your partners up to speed
At purechannelapps, when we deploy our software to clients who operate within a channel, to ensure our software is effectively utilised we conduct extensive training. This is not only to get everyone up to speed with the software, but also to explain why social media is such an effective way to increase their exposure. It’s a great way to ensure everyone is on the same page, and aware of the benefits of what you have to offer.
How your social media training should look
- Let’s do some research
I would first of all advise you to conduct some research on your partners. This will entail looking at their social networks, and also their website. You should be looking at; how often do they post onto social media? What language do they post in? Do they have many connections? Are the post titles interesting? Are there social media accounts visible on their website? You can then start to decipher the level of training that is required.
- Get partners on board
It’s crucial you fully inform partners’ way in advance about the training program you will be offering. Information included in this email will include the type of training you will be running, as well as when it will be occurring. Send them an email every week to remind them of this fantastic opportunity. Get them excited. This is hugely important as you want a good turn out and to get as many individuals on board as possible. Let’s be serious, you don’t want to have to organise this again too soon just because some individuals were unable to attend.
- Let’s start at the very beginning- Introduction to social media
I would suggest conducting a series of brief webinars. It will not only be a cost effective method of conducting your training, but you will also get more partners on board as they will not need to take as much time out of their busy schedule to attend. And it also works really well too. Your first webinar should be introducing your partners to social media, explaining the true benefits of them fully embracing it. You may think everyone already understands the rewards, but I wouldn’t be too sure about that.
Further webinars should include:
- Which social networks they should focus on
- Recommendations to improve their current social presence (these webinars could occur individually so you can address each partners areas to improve)
- Your social media strategy for the future, and their active role in ensuring you achieve this
- How often content will be pushed to them, and what they will need to do
- If you decide to adopt a social media programme, further training will need to occur to show them how to use this.
So I imagine you have gathered that this will not be an easy, or quick solution to implement. It will take time, but my goodness it will be worth it. It’s essential that your partners are on board, and the best way to achieve this is to support them along the way. Understand their capabilities, and make it easy for them. Simplicity is the best policy. And if you haven’t already done so, try a social media management program. You won’t regret it.
So let’s recap from my last blog post on the problems channel partners face with social media, just to get you up to speed.
- Partners take too long to post content - Once your partners finally find the time to post your content onto social media, is it sometimes out of date, or not relevant? Frustrating I know!
- The post title does not sound like your brand - So your partners create a post title for your content, but do they miss a vital piece of information, or the title is worded in a way that does not represent your brand at all?
- Your partners aren’t all socially savvy - Not all of your partners are the same size, each with different capabilities and strengths, with some highly equipped to deal with social media, and others not really understanding its worth. It would be great if all partners were on the same page.
So what is the solution?
They need assistance
Your partners need your help, they need to be educated into the BIG online, social media world. And it’s your job to do this, because no-one else will. You expect results and this is the best way to ensure it is achieved.
A social media content syndication program is a must
It’s easy, make it simple for your partners, and use a social media management program. All they then need to do is click share, and your posts will appear on all of their chosen social networks. Obviously I will be biased and say socialondemand is the best for this, but there are other social media programs you could test. These include, Buffer, Hootsuite, Falcon Social just to name a few.
At purechannelapps, when we deploy our software to clients, who operate within a channel, to ensure our software is effectively utilised, we conduct extensive training. This is to get everyone up to speed not only with the software, but also to explain why social media is such an effective way to increase their exposure. I would highly recommend this.
But what sort of training should you conduct? Stay tuned for our blog post next week where I will be outlining a full training program you should implement to your partners. We use this training program for our customers and trust me it works.