04 May – GDPR- how does it affect you?

GDPR

I’m sure you’ve all seen the term GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) being mentioned quite a lot of late, but have you yet had a chance to understand how it affects your brand? Well here’s your chance.

 

We’ve recently hosted a webinar on this very subject, so if you’d prefer to watch this, here’s the link.

 

What it means?

 

On the 25th May 2018 GDPR (General Data protection regulation) will be enforced. It has been put in place to protect as well as give customers greater power over the data that businesses hold on them. Many businesses collect customer data for monetary gain and this new law will help put a stop to this.

 

With greater security threats and breaches occurring all too frequently, it will require all businesses to handle customer data extremely carefully and be seen as doing all they can to stop data breaches and cyber-attacks occurring to their network.

 

Ian Moyse, Industry Cloud leader & Non Exec director of a GDPR training Organisation states that ‘directors of companies are going to be liable for GDPR’. Failing to comply and meet the new standards of this new law will mean fines of up to €20 million or 4% of last year’s turnover, whichever is greater. A scary thought, I know!

 

Will it affect me?

General Data Protection Regulation is the most significant law that has been enforced over the last 20 years, and will affect every business big or small across 28 counties in Europe as well as anywhere elsewhere which handles personal data on EU residents. If you come under this, it’s time to take the necessary action to stop non-compliant data activity occurring in your business, causing you to face the crippling fines.

 

To consider

There are various elements Ian Moyse mentions within this webinar which I believe you will find particularly valuable.

 

 

  • 72 hours to notify of breach- If you feel your business has experienced a data leak, with unintended individuals gaining access to users personal information you hold on them, under the new GDPR legislations you will have 72 hours to notify regional office of this breach. Failing to do this could cause your businesses to receive the maximum fine of €20 million or 4% of last year’s turnover, whichever is greater.
  • Users can ask what data you hold on them- GDPR is on the side of the individuals you hold data on, so following this new legislation, individuals will have 30 days to request what data you hold on them. This means you will need to have a system in place to quickly find and remove this data everywhere as and when required.
  • Individual can remove consent at any time- Everyone has the right to request they are removed from your database. Do you currently have the capability to remove this everywhere quickly and efficiently? Processes like this will need to be put in place to manage this transition effectively.
  • Opt out of web cookies? You will have to give visitors the right to disapprove from cookies even after they have agreed to them.
  • Users can claim compensation- Once a breach has occurred, commissions office will notify all customers affected. From this, users affected have the right to claim compensation for their data loss.
  • Opt in to all email content- Gone are the days where you can send recipients an email which contains a range of content. As per this law you will have to be explicit as to the type of content they will be receiving and they will have to opt into all of this, before you have the right to send them anything. Failing to do this will mean you’re in breach.

 

Our biggest advice to you when tackling this mountain of a task is to seek professional advice and attend an accredited training program. This will ensure you are geared up to tackle this hefty task effectively. And I wouldn’t leave it long, there will probably be lots you will have to re-evaluate.

23 February – Why you NOW need to understand GDPR if you are in or trade in Europe

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With our GDPR webinar, on the 8th March which Ian Moyse (Industry Cloud leader & Non Exec director of a GDPR training Organisation) is presenting in, Ian has kindly provided us with a fantastic article to share with you all.

 

You may have heard the term GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and if not you certainly will. As we approach May 25th 2018, when this becomes European law, the noise around this will grow.

 

Don’t stop reading now as the acronym seems boring and not relevant to you, it is and it is !

What’s happening is that a new law will come into play across Europe, yes the UK included too, Brexit or no Brexit it will apply! This law will effect organisations with operations in the EU, those that trade from one EU country to another or those that simply trade within territory.

 

This is not another year 2000 hype where there was no impact or pain. The impact is already happening and the pain is going to get greater!

 

If you’re not sure what the GDPR is or how it will affect your business, now’s the time to start paying attention.  This is all about company’s legal liability to protect data they hold on staff, customers and in fact anyone where personal details are stored and the impact (fines £) that are going to ensure if you don’t!

 

So this encompasses cloud, on premise, IOT and mobile, no matter where you store data, if it meets the criteria of personally identifiable and relevant information then you need to comply.

 

Ignorance will not be an excuse and in fact will put you in a far worse position. Better you can demonstrate your diligence of action and how you have tried to mitigate any risk as a defence. It is good practise to be able to demonstrate that you have attended training, acted on the process recommended from it and tried to do the right thing and you have a far better chance of being treated leniently and worked with rather than against it should the worst happen.

 

There is a wealth of information and articles on GDPR available, unfortunately they mostly quickly defer to complex detailed information and do NOT give clear and plain guidance as to what it means and what needs to be done, hence stats such as “96% of businesses do not fully understand GDPR (Source : Symantec 2016 – Global Security Mag).

 

Any firm operating in the EU will need to legally comply and demonstrate that they hold personal data securely and have strong processes around this for data holding, security and destruction.

 

So let’s make this clear and simple in 3 buckets, why it is, what it is and what you need to do;

 

Data is important and you have a legal responsibility to do certain things

Data breaches hit all-time record high in 2016 with an increase of 40% over 2015! (Source Help Net Security)

 

You may have already heard about some of the high profile names who had such breaches in the last couple of few years such as Three Mobile(UK), French naval defence contractor DCNS,  Vodafone (Germany), Tesco Bank (UK) , Bundestag (Germany), the Czech Ministry of Education, the Irish Department of Social and Family Affairs,  Kiddicare (UK) and we could go on and there will be more of these stories coming for sure!

 

Data Protection Laws are long due an overhaul. For example most Data Protection Acts have not been revisited since the late 90’s at best (eg Data Protection Act, 1998), since when the world has changed radically;  the internet, cloud, and mobile changing the volume of interactions and data exchanges taking place.

 

 

What GDPR is

GDPR is the new law that requires from May 2018 (source Europa), any business that operates in the EU or handles the personal data of people that reside in the EU must implement a strong data protection policy to protect this client data. It is the EU’s way of giving customers more power over their data and less power to the organisations that collect and use such data for monetary gain. Businesses that fail to meet the new standard will face fines of up to 4% of global turnover or €20m (whichever is larger) and businesses that suffer from a data breach without having adequate measures in place will suffer the same.

 

So this is a law, something mandatory you need to take action on as a Director of a firm with Director liabilities and something that your customers care about. See this not as a threat but as an opportunity to get your ship in shape and proudly state to customers you have been on GDPR training and are taking action with processes to be a good caring supplier. Consider putting a GDPR and how we care for your data section on your website, alongside contact us and about us.

 

What Action you need to take….  (and Don’t Panic)

You need to be prepared as a business to take action now and to mitigate the risks you face.

Do not assume you are immune from a security leak of data and that you can deal with it afterwards!  By taking action now you can help reduce the risk of it happening and by taking demonstrable action, it will provide you a defensive protection should the worst happen.

 

The May 2018 deadline may seem a long way off now, but businesses must act today in order to understand what it will take for them to achieve compliance. You need to have time to do it too, and to do it without panic, whilst fitting it in alongside your day to day running of the business.

 

You need to get the ball rolling and have a plan of actions for your journey to GDPR, so that come 2018 you have no panic, no worries and can assure your customers of your compliance.

 

There is already much scrutiny from customers on non EU businesses, such as USA cloud providers operating in the region and there will be increased expectation under GDPR as more customers promote their GDPR compliance as a comfort feeling for their own customers.

 

There is much talk for example that every organization will need to appoint a Data Protection Officer and that failure to do so will expose you to possible huge financial sanctions. In some cases, this may be required. You need to understand this now, so you can construct the most effective plan to ensure you are compliant in the most effective manner for your business.

 

The last Information Commissioners Office survey found that 75% of adults don’t trust businesses with their personal data (source Alphr) So as well as being legally compliant you can also utilize this in a positive way to re-assure clients dealing with you.

 

You will find many offering 3 day courses and/or complex expensive consultancy and whilst for some this may be appropriate; the majority will allocate someone in their business to manage this process. This will often involve a day’s awareness and process training workshop, which will get you on the way with plenty of time to implement this into your business.

 

 

If you found this article interesting and would like to know more, please do register for our webinar on the 8th March, where Ian Moyse will be talking about this very topic as well as answering any questions you may have. We hope to see you there.

16 February – GAME ON: Marketers versus Partners

CMU

Imagine this.

 

You’re in a room with 60 technology vendor and partner representatives, with a no-holds-barred remit to make the deal of the century. What would you do?

 

It’s exactly what happened at our latest Channel Meet Up event, held in Google UK’s prestigious Town Hall.

 

Instead of the usual conference approach of presentations, we brought in Jim Wallman from Past Perspectives, a strategic gaming company, to create a scenario where our attendees could work together and explore possibilities that they don’t get the chance to in the real world.

 

The fun part? To make deals with competing teams in an environment where anything was possible.

 

The real deal? To create a platform for networking and conversation in a world where digital, mobile, and other technology advances – instead of connecting us – have in fact created a disconnect. Today it’s all too easy to hide behind social media, email and IM, but a lot of insight can get lost when we don’t get together in a room with our peers – and competitors – once in a while.

 

How our world is changing  

Kicking off the day was a talk by Yvonne Cheung, Industry Head for Business Technology at Google UK, titled ‘The New B2B Journey’.

 

Yvonne shared several startling facts. Among these were that 49% of IT buyers do their research outside of normal working hours. 41% do their research at the weekends, and 21% on their holidays.

 

Small insights that make a big difference to how and when we talk to our audience.

The days of marketing during 9-5 hours, Monday to Friday, may well be a thing of the past if you want to reach the B2B decision maker when purchasing decisions are on their mind.

It reflects on the importance of coming together as an industry and talking  – key to staying abreast of what’s working, and what’s not, in B2B marketing.

 

In addition to this, Yvonne made points about device preference, with 7/10 B2B decision makers using mobile devices to research their decisions. But actions, orders and purchases are predominantly made over desktop, so services need to be delivered appropriately.

With Yvonne’s insightful talk fresh in our minds and feeling inspired, it was time for the game.

 

Here’s how it went…

 

The purpose of the game

Gamesmaster Jim Wallman presented the structure and theme for the day: guests were put into teams, and given the task of creating a fictional company and strategy.

 

With this done, the teams had to go about setting up meetings and making (also fictional) deals with the other teams.

 

For the marketers in the room, it was about creating tempting offers to bring partners on board with. While for the partners, the objective was to get the most value from the vendors.

So, what’s possible in a room where anything is possible?

 

Amidst the laughter, joking and out-of-this world deals, some fundamental learnings became clear.

 

Remember the basics, reap the rewards

  • Trust | The importance of building an open and honest relationship between vendors and partners was clear. The scenarios where either party changed what they were asking for when the deal was near final, were those relationships that broke down.
  • Reliability | In close relation to the point above, reliability beyond the deal was also key. Staying fair and maintaining good levels of communications after the contract is signed is vital.
  • Strategic fit | In choosing the right partner, it was agreed that sharing strategic goals is key – with the same corporate vision and similar direction for growth.
  • Desired outcome | Deciding your goal before going into big deals is another critical step that can be overlooked. Do you want to go big with one company, or spread yourself wider and build lots of smaller relationships? This is where you can learn from your peers.

 

Strategies used on the day

  • Widen your view | Don’t just focus on the big fish in the partner world, or those established names. You could cut a more beneficial deal with the start-ups and smaller partner organisations which could reap dividends later as they grow. And because you helped them in the beginning, they’ll remember you later on (linking back to that important point of trust and reliability).
  • The right manpower | Make sure you have enough manpower to manage your relationships. Partners valued dedicated account managers, and the ability to keep face-to-face appointments – remember, communication is key.
  • Tiered benefits | It’s ok to offer bigger benefits and rewards to bring in new partners, and then reduce these in the second and third year of a relationship (as long as it’s not reduced to such an extent that the partner no longer gets anything from the relationship!). For example, a tiered MDF programme to kick-start new relationships (£50,000 in the first year for a key partner, £20,000 in the second year, and so forth).

 

Resources to offer

  • With a little upfront investment, you can create a platform of resources to help your partners get the most from their relationship with you.
  • Co-branded partner marketing portal to help partners sell your solutions, quickly
  • Marketing store for access to campaigns, assets and support
  • Deal registration tool to speed up the decision-making process when partners register opportunities
  • Marketing concierge service – bring in a third-party agency to deliver your partners’ marketing campaigns, funded by their MDF.

So, how did it go? Ok, so ultimately the game was a bit of fun. As Olivier Choron of purechannelapps said, “we wanted to create a platform for networking, where you could talk and set up meetings, but without the formalities of a traditional conference. This was a great icebreaker that’s truly served its purpose.”

Games master Jim Wallman commented, “these games are great at pushing boundaries, and allowing each side to play around with deals and scenarios that they don’t have the chance to in real situations. But in doing so, they can glean some insights that could be put to work in the real world.

 

“How do I know it was a success? When we came to a break, and nobody stopped what they were doing. They just stayed heads-down and working – it was great to see.”

 

One attendee commented on the day “The issue is, we all think our challenges are unique. It’s only when you come to a day like this and actually talk that you realise we all have the same challenges. We’re too isolated today, we need to meet more as an industry to work together on our challenges, share best practice, and move forward.”

 

For those that attended, we hope you enjoyed it and found it insightful. Our next event is planned for Friday, 6th October back at the Runnymede Hotel in Egham, so if you would like to attend, please register your interest here.

 

We also have a channelmeetup LinkedIn group, which I would like to welcome you to join. Here you can connect with other attendees and join in on the conversation.

09 February – A Portal that suits vendors and channel partners

portal webinar1

Partner portals, where to start? They’re such a bugbear for many brands. Realistically, partners not only work with you, but also with many other suppliers, your competitors, each trying to make sure that partners never leave their portals. So how can you possibly begin to encourage partners to stay engaged with yours?

 

It’s a tricky one!

 

That’s why in a recent webinar we asked experts, Cath Hackett- Transformation Director- Go to Market Strategy- Konica Minolta, and Gary Morris- CEO and Founder, Successful Channels, INC to weigh in with their opinions on this matter. Both are only too familiar with the challenges brands face. So, what do partners and vendors really need from a partner portal?

 

The fundamentals

 

Let’s start with the absolute fundamentals; the real point to having a portal in the first place.

 

A partner portal should:

  • Support partnerships
  • Help partners collaborate with you
  • Help you work better with partners
  • Complement what your account managers don’t do for these partners
  • Support partners cost- effectively
  • Enable the community to form partnerships with each other
  • Be the face of your partner programme. 

    In summary, a portal should replicate what is happening in a face-to-face environment between your account managers and your top partners, and offer this to all of your partners, cost effectively.

     

    As Gary says ‘The most effective partner portals are organised around the needs and interests of the partner.’

     

    What partners want

     

    Recognition - Several partners with whom Cath has worked before wanted to receive customer awareness of them as a partner. Think of your partner locator and recognise the various levels of partner engagement and collaboration you see.

     

    Support - Partners come with varying levels of need, many of them being very small, with limited resources. For this reason, they ideally want to be enabled in terms of running their own business. This includes marketing right through to sales. They need that support, but also want to maintain a high level of control and for many to execute this themselves.  For this reason, Cath says, ‘It’s important to understand the business models of the partners so then you can offer that enablement.’

     

    Simplicity - As previously mentioned, partners will not only be working with one vendor, they’ll be working with many. Therefore, they need an easy to use portal, where they can efficiently find what they’re looking for.

     

    Cath makes an excellent point here, ‘Everyone tries to differentiate their partner portal and make it totally different for the brand experience. But actually, using a structure that a partner understands and that a partner will be using with a number of vendors is more likely to increase usage and traffic to the portal.’ So, keep that in mind!

     

    Access - Information should be widely available to ALL partners, not just your top partners. Partners need this. They need that support from you. If you’re not supporting them and making information widely available, they’re more likely to look elsewhere at a different vendor, thus affecting potential partnership and revenue opportunities in the future.

     

    What vendors need

     

    Deal registrations - From a vendor perspective, above all they need to prove that their partner communities are driving revenue growth. This way they can establish, if necessary, what action needs to occur to improve their performance. This includes making it as easy as possible for partners to complete deal registrations. Cath understands that sometimes training is required to explain to partners the importance of this and how it can benefit them.

     

    Reporting capabilities - It’s vital that vendors can view, access and analyse how engaged their partners are, identify what they’re clicking on, downloading and how often they log in. If this is rare, it allows vendors to establish who their latent partners are, and speak to them about the next step in their journey.

     

    Flexibility - When working with partners globally, vendors require a solution which enables all resources and modules to be available in the desired language, whilst achieving this cost effectively and easily.

     

    Easy to manage - Vendors require a portal that is easy to control, so they can add and remove resources or modules as and when necessary. A complicated portal is no good for anyone.

     

    Adaptability - With the marketing environment constantly changing and different types of partners being added to the portal, it’s imperative that it can adapt to the partner’s requirements and the knowledge based economy. As Cath says, “There will be different requirements for those business models, and your partner portal will need to be able to manage those different requirements.”

     

    To consider

     

    Partner journey - Cath learnt this the hard way: ‘Think of your partners as a customer and the partner journey that they will go on in the portal.’ Only by doing this will you be able to establish how functional and easy to use your portal really is and if it provides enough relevancy for them.

     

    Relevancy - Where a lot of vendors go wrong is by providing too much irrelevant content, causing partners to struggle to find the information that really matters to them. Providing content in the right language, that is of interest to the partner will make a drastic difference to portal engagement.

     

    Retaining interest - Gary makes a really interesting point ‘What’s worse than being talked about? Not being talked about! Give channel partners a reason to come to your portal.’ Examples for achieving this could be using notifications and regular updates to encourage them to stay in tune. If you aren’t generating traffic and your partners are not coming to your portal for meaningful reasons, it will fail.

     

    Ownership - Data and keeping it up to date is an issue for every brand. Enabling partners to update who has access to the portal and their contact details, encourages less data issues. Think of it this way, it’s unlikely they’ll notify the vendor when a colleague leaves or retires.

     

    An incentive - Both Gary and Cath recognise the benefit of creating an incentive because it’s a way of encouraging partners to do something that is important to us, the vendor. Gary however makes a great suggestion, for separating your brand from all the other substandard portals and your competitors. ‘Ensure that you look at what is important to the partner and align your incentives and gamification around what’s most important to them.’ Only by doing this will they really be on-board with your program.

     

    So, yes portals can be a nightmare, and we’ve all experienced the pain of them. But it’s good news, there really is hope out there for brands, to engage and keep our partners at close proximity to us. The trick here is to invest in a program that makes it as easy and as cost-effective as possible for both parties to be happy. Good luck!

13 December – Facebook for Work: Can this social network be utilized as a productivity and internal communication tool for channel partners?

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Not so long ago Facebook announced it was making a move for a slice of the productivity market pie with their ‘Facebook for Work’ platform, appropriately named ‘Workplace’, which aims to improve communication within organizations as well as connecting different organizations together. This enables users to stay connected wherever they are. But can this be used to connect with your channel partners to replace other traditional communication methods?

 

‘Workplace’ embodies all the traditional Facebook features such as a news feed, the creation of sharing in groups, Facebook live, reactions, search, trending posts, as well as being able to communicate with colleagues in real time. Users however won’t be allowed to use their personal account, meaning they will need to set up separate Workplace account. Is this a bold move too far or have they hit on something that’s quite genius?

 

Does it fit?

 

Traditionally, channel marketers mainly focus on Twitter and LinkedIn to promote their brands message to partners, with Facebook appearing less appropriate for B2B interactions and more for pleasure. And for communication purposes many companies will have either created a LinkedIn group for communicating with their colleagues/channel partners or alternatively and more likely will have access to a portal, forum or intranet to house all their communication needs. This I am sure you agree sounds the more secure, easier option. So with this in mind where is this tool expected to fit and can it improve communications to channel partners?

 

Integration potential

 

Is there an opportunity for organizations to replace existing internal messaging systems and integrate this platform into their communication stream? The need for portals to house tools, and other pivotal resources is steadily becoming more and more important. So, can ‘Workplace’ be integrated into existing portals to replace company forums or Intranets?

 

6 questions you should ask yourself

 

  1. Is it cost effective? – It’s no big secret that getting entire teams to sign-up to the latest productivity tool is no easy task. However, due to the familiarity of Facebook, the adoption rate could potentially be a lot higher, being very effective, when compared with Intranets or Portals.

 

  1. Are your channel partners of the social media generation? The interesting thing about channel marketers is that in my experience, their social media knowledge and footprint tends to be rather limited. For this reason, will this audience find workplace easier to use, over familiar intranets, forums or professional networking tools? In my opinion no.

 

  1. Will I need to invest in other products? – Workplace, other than forums will not really replace your current tool investments. Its single sign on ability means that it can be integrated within your portal, but you will still have to invest in a portal, intranet and any other communication methods you currently use. For this reason you probably won’t save any money from using this tool.

 

  1. Is it scalable? – The platform is hugely scalable; it can develop and grow as fast or as slow as your business. However, will it really be for global brands who sell indirectly to customers and have a multitude of partner tiers?

 

  1. Can users be synchronized with other data platforms? The main challenge I come across day after day is data! Tell me now, do you have the same number of partners signed up to your portals, forums, email newsletters and social media amplification tools? I bet the answer is no! So, unless data can be transferred straight into workplace how can you begin to know who to enable to use this tool? And how can you ensure they all sign up to use it? If they don’t, it will mean you’re not communicating with all your channel partners, requiring you to communicate your message elsewhere as well.  This is where it becomes a challenge to manage!

 

  1. Is communication functional? – One of Workplaces major benefits is the ability to communicate between organizations, so the potential for vendors to communicate to their channel partners is certainly a possibility. But once again with brands often having hundreds of partners globally, each with their own languages, they will all require their own silos/Facebook group. Imagine having to reply and send a message to every silo separately and knowing that because not every partner has signed up to workplace, a proportion will not even see your content. With this in mind, how can communication ever become consistent? And let’s not forget all your partners will have access to your new feed meaning it is highly likely half of the content won’t even be relevant to them.

 

So, does Workplace ‘work’ for you and your sales partners?

 

We can’t ignore what separates Facebook from the crowd is a familiarity that can’t be rivalled and the the user experience is tried and tested.

 

So yes, the basic technological and theoretical foundations of this social network can be used as internal communication purposes, but at what scale? I can’t deny it doesn’t have some strong features which I’m sure are hugely beneficial for smaller scale, less complex brands with simple data systems. But in my opinion taking advantage of other more targeted tools specifically designed for improving and providing targeted communication for each partner is what should be invested in. After all, who wants to mix business with pleasure?

07 December – How to expand your audience on Social Media

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Social media, there’s no denying, can be (when done correctly) a very effective method for reaching a wider audience. But how can you ensure you’re taking full advantage and are using the right platforms and methods to drive the best results?

 

I was recently joined with Ian Moyse,  a well-known Sales Leader who has a huge social media presence, being rated 2016 and 15’s #1 social influencer on cloud, and #1 on ITSM ,  featured in many social selling leaders reports and has even advised many businesses on how to play the social media game. Here, Ian shared his tips on how to expand your social media presence.

 

  1. What to consider

 

  • Influencing buyers – With 75% of b2b buyers using social media to research a vendor (IDC) and 57% of the buyers journey being done before a sales rep is contacted (CAB), the power of social really has evolved. Ian even points out that incremental decisions are being made, based on content shared through social media. ‘That wouldn’t have happened even 10 years ago,’.

 

  • Transparency – The buyer and influencer dynamic has evolved. Anyone now has the ability to find out everything about, you, your brand, your products, what others think of you, and from this make a decision. It’s therefore more important than ever to portray yourself in the best way possible, across any mediums where they may find you, to sway their buying decision.

 

  • What are your goals? – It’s not enough to just want to be a part of social media because you’ve heard at an event it’s ‘good’, you need to think about what it is you want to accomplish and where you want to go. As Ian says ‘If you don’t know where you want to go, I can’t tell you which route to take.’ Possible goals could be; to generate leads, to appear more established than you are, to gain a wider regional reach or to be seen as a thought leader.

 

  1. Who are your audience?

After you’ve identified your goal, you then need to consider who is your audience. Examples include:

 

  • Customers- End customers
  • Channel partners- Spread your message onwards to their customer base.
  • Analysts- To become recognized in your field
  • Journalists- To create an online buzz and get your brand out there
  • Influencers- To improve the reputation of your business

 

  1. How do you engage with your audience?

Social media is open 24 hours a day so posting once a day will not be enough to grab your audience’s attention.

 

What a lot of thought leaders do is they repeat their content. To do this though you need to have a wide content library. As Ian says ‘What are the chances your audience are going to see it 50 times’?  Social Media is a transient form, no one is sat watching you all the time. Like a TV advert the same ad runs on different channels at different time again and again!  You need to engage the same on social.  Have a mix of good content you can re-use and perhaps post a blog, twice a day, each day at different times across 2 week’s! You want to have as many people as possible to; see it, engage with it and share it on to their audiences! Using a social automation tools will allows you to schedule these in advance to go out at varying times.

 

Social media has the word ‘social’ in the title for a reason. It’s all about communicating with your audience and starting up conversations. By this Ian does not mean, sending them something one off. The relationship needs to be constantly nurtured to keep them interested, whilst encouraging engagement.

 

More than that though, it’s about sharing content that will be of interest to them.

 

  1. How do you grow your audience?

 

  • Focus- Do not be fooled into thinking you need to be on all social networks. If your business does not lend itself to visual display, why have an ‘Instagram’ account? Yes, it’s a huge player in the market, but perhaps not for your industry. Instead focus your efforts on a few social networks suited to your industry. Why not assess your competitors’ efforts and which ones they use?

 

  • Take advantage- Hashtags, keywords, Twitter lists, LinkedIn Groups, are all great ways of attracting your audience’s attention. Spend some time researching these and see how you can take advantage of them. I would highly recommend conducting social listening to see how others are using these effectively. If you can identify a relevant niche not yet served then consider creating a LinkedIn or Facebook group and adding connections/ thought leaders in that space to it. This is a method Ian has found particularly beneficial for starting conversations, engaging his audience and sharing content (Ian’s group now has over 33k members and is continuing to grow consistently!)

 

  • Social Selling- As Ian says ‘people talk to people. They don’t like to feel they’re talking to a bot. To do this you need to take advantage of your sales people and give them training on how to use their social media accounts effectively, for building and engaging with prospects. With 57% of the buyers’ journey occurring before a sales rep is contacted, building your employees online presence is a great way of influencing buying decisions.

 

  • Thought leaders- Do you have influencers, senior level employees or experts in your field that you could be leveraging on social media? This is also another great way of increasing your social media presence, building trust and adding a humanized element to your messaging as well.

 

  • Useful tools- Here are some great tools which Ian Moyse recommends using for improving your social media performance and efficiency:

-Fiverr- Creative marketplace for finding digital services such as creating great profile imagery and social animations cheaply

-Ezgif- Converts videos to GIF’s to make content and is a bit more social media friendly.

-Social media automation tools- To schedule relevant posts to your audience all at once.

-Commun.it- A tool to analyze engagement on Twitter & Facebook and to help you re-engage

 

The main trick is to constantly look for small gains and try to keep up to date with the advancements. ‘I am constantly looking for ways to make social media that bit easier for myself or ways to make me look a bit more professional. Its’ all about those 1% gains, they all add up.’

 

Ian shared some extremely useful tips in here, too many in fact for me to mention within this blog post, so here’s the full version of our ‘Expanding your Social Audience’ webinar. Please do follow us @purechannelapps and @imoyse on Twitter and feel free to ask us some questions.

02 December – Free social partner/employee profile analysis

 

 

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Do you know how active your channel partners, employees and other influencers social media profiles are? What training do they need to become successful social sellers? Have you considered enabling them to share your brand content out through their networks?

 

purechannelapps is offering 10 lucky businesses a free of charge analysis.

 

The package includes:
Social media profile analysis of 100 users. You will find out:
• Social networks they use
• How many posts they create a week
• Number of retweets/ shares a week
• How many followers
• Amount of competitor content they’re sharing
• Social media accounts on their website (if relevant)

 

From these results, we can then suggest useful social training, tools, tips, tricks to help your brand advocates amplify your brand message in a consistent way on a global basis to achieve results that will put other marketing initiatives to shame, that’s for sure.

 

Offer ends 23rd December.

 

Register Today

22 July – Proving the value of channel investment

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Investing in channel partners has always had its fair share of challenges. Here’s a look at the top challenges channel leaders raised recently at The Channel Meet up event, as well as their solutions to these issues.

 

1. What support do channel partners need?

Understanding what support channel partners need is tough. Some require a lot of support to sell your offerings, whereas others prefer to get on with it themselves. So how can you tell which partner wants support, which ones don’t, and how much support they really need? Just because some channel partners do not respond to your emails does not mean they do not require your help every now and again. It could be that they are overloaded with work, and you could greatly ease this. So where to start?

 

The solution: Diane Paternoster, Director, Channel Marketing, EMEA Akamai Technologies, suggests simply asking channel partners if they require support is certainly the first step. You can ask them what areas they require assistance with and create a program around this. Some of your channel partners however may not recognise they need help at all, so it might not be the answer in every case. Conducting regular audits and measuring how well partners are performing is easier said than done, but well worth the effort!

 

2. Measuring how well partners are performing

But how do you measure how well your channel partners are really performing? And keep track of their activities?

 

The solution: Diane recommends segmenting your channel partners into two groups, focused and non-focused. Start with the focused group and from this, select 7 or 8 channel partners. This way you can dedicate your time to this group first.

 

Justin Turner, Director, Global Channel Marketing & EMEA Marketing Operations at Motorola Solutions, also recommends conducting a mystery shopper experience to measure how well your partners are performing. This involves phoning the partner, and acting as a customer to see if they are qualifying up. It also entails visiting their website to check functionality and if for example, your logo is displayed clearly. Details like this can make a huge difference to performance and how the business is perceived by the customer. From all the findings, Justin then runs a report to evaluate all aspects, and shares this with the channel partners, making recommendations.

 

As Justin says, if your channel partners are performing badly, such as their website, an activity like spending money on pay per click campaigns is pointless, as their bounce rate is likely to be extremely high. Your recommendations will enable them to understand the necessary changes required to improve their engagement potential, as well as stop them from spending their budget on activities they are currently not ready for.

 

 

 3. More than 10% of channel marketing activities are not delivered

After understanding which areas your channel partners need to work on, Diane recommends creating a plan of action, to devise a range of activities that will help improve their performance.

 

The main issue is that over 10% of your channel marketing activities are not even delivered. This will have a huge knock on effect with the channel partners’ performance. But how can this be rectified?

 

The solution: Diane recognises that creating a complete business plan, with the dates outlined of when activities can be carried out, is key.

 

Only by doing this will you be able to keep track of which activities were carried out, which ones were a success, and which ones were cancelled. If they were cancelled, it’s also important to keep a record of why. If it’s due to the channel partners lacking the necessary skills to partake in the activities, this could impact your future budget.

 

 4. Measuring marketing activities ROI

Identifying which activities to perform is tricky in itself. Especially if you are expecting to be able to measure the ROI from them. As Simon Fagan, Formerly Managing Director at Maverick Distribution says, you will not be able to track the ROI from every activity performed. Prime examples are face-to-face meetings which are key for communicating key messages, but rather difficult to track their true value. So what do you do when the budget holders want proof the activity is worth the expense? Stop face-to-face meetings? I think not!

 

The solution: Justin reveals that Motorola tries to correlate the MDF with their pipeline in order to establish their marketing activities effectiveness, but even still this is not always possible to track. Justin says, ‘We’ve not been able to prove a direct correlation between MDF/COOP spend on specific activities, or even overall, with partner revenue – there are too many other variables, including other marketing activities, long sales cycles, partner sales skills, and even bluebird opportunities, that prevent this.’

However Tony White, President & CEO of Birch Wordwide, believes that consistency in activities delivered is a great way of keeping in control of what is working and what isn’t. If you stop some activities and notice a decline in engagement, whether that be with your channel partners or even revenue, this could have a lot to do with some supportive activities not being performed.

 

Whatever we do, we cannot get away from the fact that there will always be challenges, so it’s about learning from others and discovering how they improve or even in some cases rectify the issue, which really makes all the difference.

And that is why we are 100% behind The Channel Meet Up event, to enable our customers to talk about their challenges and seek solutions. Want to know more? Visit the website: http://www.thechannelmeetup.com/

 

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By Olivier Choron
CEO and Founder of purechannelapps
Find me on LinkedIn

07 July – Socially enabling your channel partners

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One of the most common challenges channel marketers face is that channels all have such varying levels of marketing knowledge and resources. It is therefore not surprising that finding the time to do social media is way down their priority list.

 

So with this in mind, how can you begin to build a social media programme that supports all your channel partners’ needs?

 

Well, at The Channel Meet Up event on the 16th June I asked a number of industry thought leaders to share their views on this specific issue:

 

  • Andy Hill, Head of Digital Mastery at Xerox
  • Louise Hunter, Senior Marketing Manager, EMEA Partners & Commercial, Juniper Networks
  • Neil Walker, Senior Channel Marketing Manager, EMEA PFU (EMEA) Limited – a Fujitsu company

 

The main challenges recognised

 

  1. Aging issue

Neil Walker believes the reason some channel partners show a lack of interest towards social media is because the decision makers in the company are over the age of 40, and do not recognise the impact that social media could have on their businesses success.

 

  1. Social media strategy

Louise Hunter recognises that even though some channel partners do not have a social media strategy, they and their employees are still posting to social media. They are trying to gain some exposure in the social media sphere, but unfortunately they are not always posting the right way, to really benefit their brand.

 

  1. Consistency

Encouraging channel partners to be socially active provokes other challenges too, namely consistency, as pointed out by Louise Hunter. The last thing you want is for your image to be affected or for false information to be shared.

 

  1. Language

Another common issue, which Louise Hunter raised, was the need for content to be created in a variety of languages to appeal to audiences across multiple markets. We can all see the importance of this for attracting a wider audience, but it’s easier said than done right?

 

Solutions from the experts

 

  1. Educate your partners

Andy Hill feels that educating channel partners on the power of social media and how to use it effectively is half the battle. Only then will they be driven to socially enable your brand. This can be executed through a carefully designed training program which suits all capabilities, ensuring channel partners are at the same level, and understand the power social media can bring to their business.

 

  1. Create a plan for channel partners to follow

Whilst instilling social media into your channel partners’ lives, Louise Hunter also recommends encouraging them to set up a social media calendar for sharing content daily. By doing this Louise has discovered that channel partners are more likely to share your content as they will rely on your content to fill up their social media calendar.

 

A plan also gives your channel partners a direction to follow, encouraging them to remain on board with your program. Without a plan they could quickly fall back into old habits of inconsistent and ineffective posting, which won’t benefit either party.

 

With regards to creating content, Andy Hill recommends posting 80% industry content and 20% brand content. As Andy says, “If you just talk about yourself no-one will be interested, that’s why you need to mix it with a reasonable amount of industry content.”

 

  1. Encouraging consistency

Brand guidelines as well as training go hand in hand for minimising consistency issues, as pointed out by Andy Hill. I personally also recommend deploying a social media advocacy platform, such as our own socialondemand where content created by you is sent to channel partners, who then in less than three clicks, share your content to their social media accounts, as if it came directly from themselves. This not only makes it easier for channel partners to maintain a social presence, but it also minimises the opportunity for inconsistency to occur.

 

When Neil Walker, Louise Hunter and Andy Hill first deployed socialondemand into their organisations they all ran a pilot test, whereby they only made this tool available to a small proportion of their audience. This way they could test the functionality and effectiveness for their brands requirements, whilst establishing whether they are likely to receive a return on investment.

 

  1. Language

When operating in a multitude of countries, each with their own language, Andy Hill who has successfully resolved this challenge recommends that you request, for example, the French team to create their own content to share with their French partners. This way they can provide targeted, engaging content specifically designed for the audience in that country, thus improving their appeal to a wider audience.

 

Hopefully these thoughts and tips will prove useful. That’s what makes The Channel Meet Up great. It gives us all the opportunity to share our wisdom, as well as hear other success stories. Want to attend the next one? Click here for more information. If you cannot wait and want to find out how to socially enable your channel partners now (or employees for that matter), just give me a ring!

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By Olivier Choron
CEO and Founder of purechannelapps
Find me on LinkedIn

10 June – Social media through the eyes of channel partners

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There is no denying that your channel partners see social media as extremely valuable for increasing their overall online presence. The questions we need to ask ourselves are multiple; Are your channel partners really equipped to manage it effectively? And are you, the vendor, providing enough social media support?


We interviewed a number of channel partners, namely Benjamin de Vries and Terry Knight from Professional Document Solutions, Toni Gibiino, Marketing Director at Office Solutions Ltd and Graham Compton, Director of Business Edge Technologies, to hear their views. Like to listen to their live discussion? Click here.


Social media – how critical is it?
Social media has become a fundamental activity for driving increased brand engagement, and unsurprisingly channel partners share the same view too, seeing it as a way to be easily found digitally.


Toni states: ‘It’s like having a shop front; you don’t necessarily need to have an attractive shopfront. As long as it looks attractive online they tend to validate your business based on this.’


Research by Sirius decisions backs this up perfectly, showing 67% of the buyers’ journey is spent online and on social media. So without an active social media account or online presence, buyers could look elsewhere, even to your dreaded competitors!


Benjamin and Terry have seen the benefit in using social media as a way to drive traffic to their own website, generating interest this way, and being seen as industry thought leaders. They also have another very interesting tactic, as Terry explains: ‘Anyone that lands on our website we can re-market to. Our goal is to try and get them back to our website.’


This is a fantastic method for keeping potential buyers aware of your brand offerings, hoping to sway their purchasing behaviour.


What social network(s) to focus on?
Obviously this is highly dependent on the industry you are in, and whether you are in the B2B or B2C space. But for these channel partners, who are all in the B2B space, the social network they favour is LinkedIn, although Twitter generates a lot of clicks!


LinkedIn is our biggest means of generating opportunity, and we focus on training our staff to interact socially with people on LinkedIn’, says Toni.


When determining the type of content to focus on, video creation is recognised to be the best method for receiving high engagement, with Terry reporting ‘Videos have been the best, with over 100,000 views.’ Toni further goes on to say ‘People do not want to read huge great articles, when they can watch a 30 second video, and get the crux of it very quickly.’ For this reason, Toni will be focussing a lot of his marketing budget on this.


Our challenges?
As you can imagine, time, content and resources are all limited, with many channel partners not having a dedicated team or even person to manage their social media accounts. Graham can relate to this, ‘Trying to find the right person to post the right piece of media is really time consuming and difficult to achieve, that’s why we love socialondemand because it does a lot of the work for us.
Having a platform to support your channel partners’ limitations, such as their online exposure, is a great way to not only become their preferred supplier of choice, but also to increase your own reach and revenue potential.


Ben further goes on to say, ‘Xerox socialondemand produce some really great content and it’s really easy to share.’ For Ben, socialondemand minimises the challenge they face of finding and creating great content to share on social media, enabling them to maintain and build their online presence.


For me, this webinar was extremely insightful and I would highly recommend tuning in to discover just how you can better support your channel partners, to achieve the exposure you and your channel partners’ desire, via social media.
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By Olivier Choron
CEO and Founder of purechannelapps
Find me on LinkedIn