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


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

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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!

07 December – How to expand your audience on Social Media


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.

22 July – Proving the value of channel investment


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/



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!


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

03 June – Channel Marketers: Is marketing automation the right approach for your channel comms?

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Email marketing automation, in my opinion, is largely over-played, certainly as a means to communicate to channel partners. Here I am going to uncover the cracks that will make you question its worth to your brand.


  • Only for the nurturing process
    Marketing automation is great for prospect nurturing processes. It’s fantastic for targeting those users that are thinking of buying as it can track which customers have visited your site, what they’ve looked at, and send these individuals a series of messages solely targeted to their needs and behaviours.

    Anything to help influence their buying decision further is critical.
    This works well for prospective channel partners too, i.e. for those that are currently not yet working with you but are thinking about it. It could also work for your inactive partners that seldom purchase and resell your products.

  • But what about ongoing channel communication?
    What about after the purchase decision is made and after your partners have bought from you? This is where marketing automation software fails. Your buyers have now left your buying cycle, so the nurturing approach is no longer relevant.

    The requirement now is to keep them engaged and loyal to your brand, by ensuring they are kept informed about your new products, promotions, offers and tools. The issue is, if your targeting approach consists of creating and sending content based on website traffic but they are no longer visiting your website, how are you going to target them? This is the loop hole. Marketing automation software is not designed for this form of communication. It is also very cumbersome and time-consuming to create ‘nurturing campaigns’ for every piece of partner news.

  • Marketing automation limitations
    Marketing automation software, whilst great for the nurturing process, cannot support you in sending targeted channel communications. You will need to send emails and newsletters based upon who your audiences are; by product interest, by industry sector, by partner type, by partner tier, by country, by language. But what if an individual is interested in more than one product and let’s say speaks Spanish? How are you going to specifically appeal to this individual? The answer is you can’t; well not unless you’re planning on creating a multitude of different versions, and updating this every time your product/ service offerings changes. It sounds like a lot of hard work to me! And what for? Will it ever be as targeted as required to truly engage every audience?

    The solution
    If you are looking to achieve ongoing communication to retain brand loyalty and keep your partners up-to-date, you need to look for a different solution, such as newsondemand, our own revolutionary software designed precisely to cater for this issue.

    With newsondemand you can target every recipient with specifically tailored emails and newsletters based on their accreditation and partner levels, industry focus, language, topic interest, frequency they wish to receive your email newsletters etc.

    With newsondemand, you can make this happen easily: you, the sender, only need to input content into the system, categorise it as you go and the software will do the rest. It’s that simple to use and will save you a lot of time and budget, whilst ensuring your partner audience receives the news they want and need, when they desire.

    So before you extend the use of your marketing automation software to your channel communications, ensure you perform extensive research, weigh up your end goals and establish exactly what you will be using it for. If it’s to retain and build relationships with channel partners, I believe this is not the system for you and you should definitely look elsewhere.

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

  • 30 March – Content is king, but engagement is queen

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    Content is undoubtedly crucial for telling your brands story. The question is how do you encourage your audience to engage with it?

    As Andy Hill, Social Media Marketing Manager, for Xerox states, ‘Different formats and templates resonate with different audiences.’ Even if you only have a niche market, it’s important to test different forms of engagement, such as blogs, infograghics, case studies, or even technical whitepapers, to see how your audience respond. This will inform your future decisions as to which content to produce. I would also recommend recycling your content and reusing it elsewhere, for example key stats from blog posts can be made into an infographic.

    Make sure your content is displayed clearly and is easily digestible, to enable the reader to quickly find what they are looking for. You want to create it in a way where readers want to follow through to the end. Well that’s the goal anyway. Breaking up the content with headlines can be an effective way of achieving this.

    This point is obvious, but ensure you invest in imagery which first of all relates to the topic you are talking about, but secondly is professional. Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without (Hubpost, 2015). This shows just how important they are.

    The results? High audience engagement!
    If you do your job properly, your content will be relevant and will attract your desired audience; your prospective buyers will read, and re-read and even share your news with their peers. Your content engagement will be high.

    But what do you actually count as engagement? Is this your social media activity, such as the number of likes, mentions and shares a piece of content receives? And what about on your website, do you have trackable links to understand the visitor’s journey? Only by effectively measuring this can you determine whether your brands stories are being heard. This is key in order to strategize and understand what works, what doesn’t and how to improve.

    A social automation platform can enable you to track this effectively on social media, by using trackable links to establish each posts engagement, and the customer’s journey. Pair this with Google analytics and you can track exactly how many lead to your website.

    Encouraging audience engagement via closer integration with your own advocates
    You may share the most interesting, useful content, but if no-one is seeing it, is it really benefiting your brand? For this reason it is highly important that you look to promote it for your audience to see and respond.

    The way to do this? Get your content closer to your desired audience, by letting your brand advocates themselves use and share your content. This will guarantee that their own followers and contacts, which are your audience, can access your messages.

    Here are the different types of advocates you should fully utilise:

    Employees – They are your greatest fans, and their social media presence should be leveraged. As an example if you have 10,000 employees and you enable 20% of them to share your social media content, you will effectively create 2,000 more opportunities for your messages to be seen. Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey also states that 90% of buyers trust product/service recommendations from people they know, showing just how effective this could be for your brand in generating revenue.

    Partners – If you sell indirectly to customers, your channel partners/ sales partners need to be engaged with you, their vendor. To enable this, you should provide them with your content to promote your offerings, as well as access to a social media collaboration platform. This way they can easily and efficiently post your content out to their social networks, saving them time and expense and enabling you to track engagement received. And you will be in ‘indirect’ contact with their own followers who will be able to see and read your content.

    Influencers and Brand Ambassadors - This appears to be a huge trend this year, which I believe everyone should get behind. It involves encouraging your influencers and other brand advocates to promote your brand to their audience. The trick here is to keep them engaged and loyal to your brand. And with word of mouth marketing generating 2 times the sales of paid advertising (McKinsey), why would you not want to do this?

    Customers – Nielsen reports that 68% trust online opinions from other consumers. For this reason you should really do all you can do encourage customer advocacy, whether that is in the form of leaving reviews on social media or sharing your content to their networks, these are all great ways to make you the favourable brand decision makers want to buy from. Keeping your customers happy is the first step and the fundamental one for achieving customer advocacy.

    So yes content is king, but engagement is queen and as in life, the queen is just as important, so engagement should not be understated. And when paired together it is truly the perfect mix.

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

    08 March – Sharing social media secrets – partner, customer and channel advocacy

    In a recent social media advocacy webinar, industry leaders from Microsoft, Avalara and Xerox, as well as social media experts Ian Moyse and Zoe Sands, delivered some rather fascinating insights. I would like to share just some of these with you.

    It’s all about people… many people!

    Although the brand itself is important, it’s the people within it that do the business. Zoe Sands, Principal Consultant, Zoe Sands & Co. Ltd states, ‘A good starting point is centering social media around people.’ The nature of your business will determine who this includes. These are the type of advocates you can take advantage of:

    Partner advocacy

    Microsoft realised the benefit of promoting their brand through their channel partners’ social media accounts. However from a survey they conducted with channel partners, they discovered that even though their partners recognised the importance of social media, they lacked the time or resource to perform this effectively. To overcome this Microsoft is now using socialondemand to facilitate the sharing of Microsoft’s content to their channel partners’ social media accounts.

    Alex Beere, Consultant Social Media Manager, SMB and Partner, for Microsoft, stated, ‘Since using it, we have noticed a number of benefits from both a Microsoft and a partner perspective. Partners have become more socially digitally enabled, they’ve experienced growth in their social channels, and many partners have seen direct leads from the program.’

    Employee advocacy

    Your employees, especially your sales staff, are likely to be the individuals representing your brand.

    As Will Frei, Social Media Manager at Avalara suggested, ‘An education piece for them to understand how social can benefit them is essential to get them on board with the program.’

    Avalara, however, is performing the next generation of advocacy and enabling their employees to suggest content for Avalara to share, named ‘360 degree advocacy’. Will says, ‘This gives employees a sense of ownership, has also improved morale and employee culture as well as increasing the number of employees promoting us.’

    Influencer Advocacy

    Alex from Microsoft states, ‘Influencer advocacy should not be about just sending partners technology for them to write about it, it should be more about nurturing and integrating these relationships in a natural way for the long term.’

    On social media it is clear to see who has paid to be influenced and who has a genuine preferred relationship with the brand. Ensure you get this right or it will not be a worthwhile expense for your brand.

    Supporting advocates is necessary

    You need to make your advocacy program feel human, supporting users with the right policy, and the right parameters. This is fundamental in order to get as many advocates on board as possible.

    Alex suggests, ‘It’s not something you launch and walk away from. Make it as easy as possible for your advocates to be able to skill up and maintain a good level of usage.’

    This could include conducting a robust training program that works for all capability levels. Certifications may be an option for more advanced advocates seeking gratification for their efforts, whereas less advanced advocates may favour a webinar, face to face, how to guides or video training to get them on board. Training advocates to create blogs for you could also be highly beneficial in enabling you to produce a range of content, however leave this to your advanced advocates.

    Incentivising advocates to share your content

    The big question is, should brands incentivise advocates to share their content?

    Andy Hill, Social Media Marketing Manager, for Xerox, states that they do not normally need to provide incentives. ‘For partners they are already looking at each other’s social media accounts, so we do not need to incentivise them, they are already competing against one another every single day.’

    Microsoft however does sometimes see the value in incentivising, for example to encourage some content to be pushed over others, prizes may be awarded. Microsoft has also implemented a digital leader board for employees to see who is receiving the most engagement on social media. So the incentive is to try and get to the top.

    As Ian leading Cloud Influencer on Social Media says, ‘Engagement and validation can be the reward, for example, by mentioning them on Twitter and sharing their content.’ It’s about understanding your advocates and finding out what works best for them.

    I think you’ll agree that there is a lot to learn from this webinar. So much in fact that I couldn’t possibly write it all down. To hear a more detailed version, please click here to watch the recording. But for now I only hope this has reiterated the importance of utilising your advocates effectively. These experts do, so maybe it’s about time you did too.

    By Olivier Choron
    CEO and Founder of purechannelapps

    Find me on LinkedIn