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

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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.

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

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?


Variety
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.


Clarity
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.


Imagery
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.


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

12 January – What does 2016 have in store for purechannelapps, social media and marketing?

2016 predictions for marketing


“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” This a great quote by Mike Tyson, one that many brands need to abide by. We, as an industry, need to embrace change and all that it brings. But what does 2016 have in store for purechannelapps and the marketing industry? It’s time we planned and prepared for the unexpected to stay on top and most importantly keep in the ring. Here is a sneak peek into purechannelapps’ plans and my predictions for the marketing industry.


Social Selling
2015 saw a vast increase in social selling, I believe this was led by many social networks upping their game to appeal to the B2B market. Whether that’s Facebook improving their ad tools, LinkedIn sophisticating their targeting abilities, or Instagram enabling advertising, these are all steps forward to allow social selling to commence. This creates opportunities for many more brands, so it only makes good sense for social selling to be an integral part of brands marketing strategy for 2016.


Imagery
In 2016 the visual social networks will no doubt take the B2B market by storm, not only because it’s now more targeted to them, but also because it’s what we all respond best to. It’s what gets our attention. The likes of Instagram and Pinterest will certainly serve to increase in popularity in the coming year.


Your employees are your greatest fans
For brands to increase their exposure and reach on social media, they need advocates to spread the word for them and what better advocates than your employees. A lot of brands will look to deploy this in 2016, and many will even go one step further by rewarding employees whose social selling efforts eventually lead to sales, making this part of the buying cycle process. This will mean not only that social media amplification/ syndication platforms will be increasingly in demand, but that there will also be many more platforms popping up, specifically targeted to enabling employee advocacy.


Why stop with employees? Involve your sales partners
Once brands discover the benefit of leveraging advocators to promote their brand, channel advocates, such as sales partners, resellers, retailers and dealers may be tasked with the job of sharing their suppliers’ content on their social media accounts too, increasing their potential reach even further.


Social media customer advocacy programs
Again, who better to influencers buyers than existing customers? In 2016, we’ll see a surge in social media-based customer advocacy programs. Customers will be asked to share their views and opinions about their suppliers with others, and social media is a great platform for this!


What’s the ROI?
For brands to invest time and capital into social media, they increasingly expect to know and understand the return on investment they will receive from this, especially when investing in platforms to enable their advocates to promote their message. They are no longer willing to accept that social media is a must, they will need to see the results! I believe this will be a priority for 2016, with social media software providers upping their game to provide the service customers expect.


Communicating with channel partners
With channel partners under increasing strain from a multitude of their vendors each fighting for their attention, it’s not surprising that communication between brands and their channel partners can be somewhat difficult. Email marketing is a common method to communicate their message to their channel partners and inform them of their offerings.


If however companies are sending identical emails to all of their partners it is not rocket science to see that engagement will be low. They may not even all be selling the same product or in some cases they could even be receiving duplicate emails if they fall into more than one product category. So my prediction will be that brands will look for an alternative method to communicate to their partners. This could include researching 100% targeted email marketing platforms or potentially looking for an alternative method to improve their communication.


How does purechannelapps fit in with these predictions?
With social media looking to be a top trend for this year, 2016 is shaping up to be a thrilling year for product development at purechannelapps. The sharing and amplification of content is continuing at a rapid speed, but the media in which people are sharing this content are also changing.


As a result, we are developing our mobile application, allowing users to share content to their social accounts directly from the app. That doesn’t mean to say that emails will be disappearing any time soon in a B2B space, so we’re improving both the design of our email notifications, but also allowing content to be shared from both social posts and directly from more “traditional” newsletters and emails.


2016 will also be the year when our platform gets a full makeover. The user interface and customer journey will be drastically improved to simplify the creation and sending of content, along with a snazzy new interface and reporting module.


We’re also busy looking to add more social networks into our platform, including ones in the Asian marketplace, investigating ways of getting streams of content into the platform for both email newsletters and social posts and adding more functionality to our CMS, Resource Library and Deal Registration modules. So, we’re looking forward to our most ambitious year yet!


What do you think, do you agree with my predictions? Please feel free to comment to share your opinion.
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By Olivier Choron
CEO and Founder of purechannelapps

Find me on LinkedIn

12 August – Why you should offer all of your channel partners social media training – part 3 of 3

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So in my previous blog posts, I have discussed; the key issues your partners face which prohibit your social media posts from being effectively shared, and the resolutions to these issues. I have also briefly touched upon the importance of providing training to your channel partners. But what sort of training would be adequate for all of your partners? After all they each have varying levels of capabilities.

 

Here I will describe a full training program that I recommend you implement, not only for your channel partners, but also for your brand advocates. It works for everyone! It is vital they are all equipped for everything social media has to offer, so you can effectively start social selling and reaching a wider audience.

 

Get all your partners up to speed

At purechannelapps, when we deploy our software to clients who operate within a channel, to ensure our software is effectively utilised we conduct extensive training. This is not only to get everyone up to speed with the software, but also to explain why social media is such an effective way to increase their exposure. It’s a great way to ensure everyone is on the same page, and aware of the benefits of what you have to offer.

 

How your social media training should look

  1. Let’s do some research

 

I would first of all advise you to conduct some research on your partners. This will entail looking at their social networks, and also their website. You should be looking at; how often do they post onto social media? What language do they post in? Do they have many connections? Are the post titles interesting? Are there social media accounts visible on their website? You can then start to decipher the level of training that is required.

 

  1. Get partners on board

 

It’s crucial you fully inform partners’ way in advance about the training program you will be offering. Information included in this email will include the type of training you will be running, as well as when it will be occurring. Send them an email every week to remind them of this fantastic opportunity. Get them excited. This is hugely important as you want a good turn out and to get as many individuals on board as possible. Let’s be serious, you don’t want to have to organise this again too soon just because some individuals were unable to attend.

 

  1. Let’s start at the very beginning- Introduction to social media

 

I would suggest conducting a series of brief webinars. It will not only be a cost effective method of conducting your training, but you will also get more partners on board as they will not need to take as much time out of their busy schedule to attend. And it also works really well too. Your first webinar should be introducing your partners to social media, explaining the true benefits of them fully embracing it. You may think everyone already understands the rewards, but I wouldn’t be too sure about that.

 

Further webinars should include:

  • Which social networks they should focus on
  • Recommendations to improve their current social presence (these webinars could occur individually so you can address each partners areas to improve)
  • Your social media strategy for the future, and their active role in ensuring you achieve this
  • How often content will be pushed to them, and what they will need to do
  • If you decide to adopt a social media programme, further training will need to occur to show them how to use this.

 

So I imagine you have gathered that this will not be an easy, or quick solution to implement. It will take time, but my goodness it will be worth it. It’s essential that your partners are on board, and the best way to achieve this is to support them along the way. Understand their capabilities, and make it easy for them. Simplicity is the best policy. And if you haven’t already done so, try a social media management program. You won’t regret it.

03 August – Understanding and resolving your channel partners social media capabilities- Part 2 of 3

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So let’s recap from my last blog post on the problems channel partners face with social media, just to get you up to speed.

 

Problems:

  1. Partners take too long to post content - Once your partners finally find the time to post your content onto social media, is it sometimes out of date, or not relevant? Frustrating I know!

 

  1. The post title does not sound like your brand - So your partners create a post title for your content, but do they miss a vital piece of information, or the title is worded in a way that does not represent your brand at all?

 

  1. Your partners aren’t all socially savvy - Not all of your partners are the same size, each with different capabilities and strengths, with some highly equipped to deal with social media, and others not really understanding its worth. It would be great if all partners were on the same page.

 

So what is the solution?

 

They need assistance

 

Your partners need your help, they need to be educated into the BIG online, social media world. And it’s your job to do this, because no-one else will. You expect results and this is the best way to ensure it is achieved.

 

A social media content syndication program is a must

 

It’s easy, make it simple for your partners, and use a social media management program. All they then need to do is click share, and your posts will appear on all of their chosen social networks. Obviously I will be biased and say socialondemand is the best for this, but there are other social media programs you could test. These include, Buffer, Hootsuite, Falcon Social just to name a few.

 

Training

 

At purechannelapps, when we deploy our software to clients, who operate within a channel, to ensure our software is effectively utilised, we conduct extensive training. This is to get everyone up to speed not only with the software, but also to explain why social media is such an effective way to increase their exposure. I would highly recommend this.

 

But what sort of training should you conduct? Stay tuned for our blog post next week where I will be outlining a full training program you should implement to your partners. We use this training program for our customers and trust me it works.

24 July – My top tips on how to manage social media if you’re a channel marketer

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For those of you who operate within a complex channel, relying on resellers, distributers or other partners to promote your brand to end users can be a real challenge. So I have outlined below some of the common issues/scenarios faced in the channel, and have suggested some ‘Top Tips’ on finding a resolution:

 

  1. ‘My resellers don’t share my posts’

 

Let’s not forget, your resellers do not only work with you, but with your competitors, who like you, are fighting for their attention as well. It’s not surprising that your social media posts are probably not receiving the attention they deserve. Especially when sharing your posts is not the most straightforward task, nor top of the priority list!

 

TIP 1: MAKE IT EASY, USE A SOCIAL MEDIA PROGRAM

 

If it was simple and straight forward – and only took three clicks, then your resllers would be more inclined to perform this task. Not only will this benefit you through increasing your potential reach, but it also allows your resellers to be socially active. Let’s not forget it will also help them to develop their ‘thought leader’ status helping boost their sales potential.

 

There are a range of social media programs out there for you to try, each with varying levels of success. I obviously favour my own, socialondemand, but you could try Hootsuite, Buffer, or Sprout Social too. Explore this market further and see what works for you.

 

  1. ‘The post doesn’t sound like my brand’

 

So your resellers finally get around to posting content onto social media about, for example, ‘your new product launch’, but their post title does not portray your brand very well at all, and they do not include a crucial piece of information. This is an issue I hear time and time again.

 

TIP 2: CREATE PRE-POPULATED POSTS FOR ALL SOCIAL NETWORKS

 

I’m sure you’ll agree portraying a consistent brand message that cannot be diluted is highly important. As previously mentioned, a social media program is a great way to achieve this. Alternatively, why not create an email newsletter where articles can be shared to their social media accounts? The slight issue with this is your posts cannot be scheduled throughout the day, and instead will rely on each post being manually shared. A task that may be forgotten. But let’s not be pessimistic, it’s a step in the right direction.

 

  1. My resellers are sharing out-of-date content’

 

So by the time your resellers finally manage to find the time to share your posts, the content is out of date. This is a real bug-bare, particularly if the post was to, for example promote an event/ sale that has been and gone.

 

TIP 3: DISCONTINUE POSTS

 

To ensure this does not occur, by using a social media management system, you can discontinue posts that are no longer appropriate. If however the management tool you have adopted does not enable this feature, a simple approach of labelling posts with the end date could stop this from occurring. Simple but effective.

 

  1. ‘I want to reach a wider market’

 

Resellers, distributors or other partners, whatever channel it is that you sell through, you want to get your message out there to the widest possible market, so that it can be heard by all of your target audience, but how?

 

TIP 4: ADOPT EMPLOYEE ADVOCACY

 

If you have not attempted this before, this is a great way to increase your potential reach. Simply put, it’s the promotion of a brand through its employees. When done correctly, these key influencers, who have huge social networks, have the opportunity to sway potential customers’ decisions to buy or not to buy from a brand. This is a fantastic avenue that you must explore further to see how this could work for your brand. Read this article to discover more.

 

So if you are a channel marketer, there really is an easier way – but it does take time and effort. Try these tips, and discover an easier way to encourage your resellers, distributors and other partners – and maybe even your employees – to share your content, and reach a wider audience. It will all be worth it in the end.

08 July – Is email marketing outdated for channel partners?

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The short answer to this is… it depends!  Cue large groan! But on what exactly? Well on your own personal approach to email marketing for channel partners for a start. Just like everything, it is your email strategy and activities that need to be updated and revamped and given a new lease of life. Here’s how.

 

Why email marketing

Email marketing has dramatically evolved over the years, allowing organisations to regularly connect and update their recipients with new information.

 

This is still a great way to send useful information about your brand to your partners. This could include product updates, new promotions or maybe updates to your partner program and portal. The content is completely up to you. Whatever it is, it is designed to equip recipients with relevant content to stay in tune with your brand.

 

When adopted correctly, it can achieve significant results.

 

‘Correctly’ is the critical word here.

 

How things have changed

The major change within this space is the accessibility, volume and technology. Whether you receive emails at work, on your tablet, or mobile device, nowadays communication is a lot easier, cost effective and accessible. It has allowed many brands to increase their global reach as geographical location is no longer an issue.

 

And with the advancement of technologies, creating bulk email newsletters, such as for your channel partners, has become a lot simpler and achievable.

 

The issues

So you adopted an email marketing strategy one, two, or maybe three years ago… but have you updated it much since? How many times have you actually reviewed what you are doing and thought, ‘I know what changes I need to make here’? The chances are not very often. It’s a bit like a new kitchen, it looks sleek and pretty at first but over time the walls need a paint, and things need to be replaced in order to bring it up to date and functional again. Trends change, we move on, and so perhaps it’s time you did too.

 
Competition

Let’s also not forget about the high level of competition you’re dealing with here, each fighting for their email to get noticed. Remember your partners don’t only receive your newsletters! So the main aim here is to ensure your emails and newsletters stand out from the crowd. You want them to get opened, and be the favourable ones that partners actually engage with and take the time to read.

 

So evaluate your current email stats, such as open, click and unsubscribe rate and come up with a plan of what you want to improve. Leave the how up to me.

 

Where many go wrong

It’s all about targeting. If you send a generalised email newsletter to all of your partners, with half of the content not even relating to their interests or needs, engagement levels are unsurprisingly going to be low. One size certainly does not fit all, it needs to be adapted.

 

And once more, if your channel partners are located globally, have you considered that some partners may be averse to reading your newsletter if it is not in their first language? That’s if they actually take the time to read it, which they probably won’t due to their busy schedules.

 

Getting with the program

So here’s what you need to do. Let’s first tackle targeting. Your email needs to be adapted to your recipients’ requirements and interests. Software programs such as newsondemand allow this to be easily achievable, and cost effective.

 

The recipient simply selects what they want to receive (you create a list of categories that they can choose from) and when they want to receive it (time and frequency). No HTML coding is required. All you need to do is upload your articles, and based upon the recipients’ preferences, a newsletter will be created and sent to all subscribers. Each newsletter therefore will look slightly different, appealing solely to the receiver.

 

Since using this program, SAP’s newsletter open rates are now up by 49%, and the average click to open rate is now 5.9%, with some reaching 17%. Impressive I know.

 

Or there are other programs that will make your life that little bit easier. For a simple approach, creating a one size fits all newsletter, you could try Mail Chimp. They have some great analytical features to really help you identify how you are performing.

 

If however you are looking for something a bit more advanced, there are other solutions where you put your recipients into specific groups and create newsletters specifically to appeal to these groups. So you could potentially be creating 5 or 6 newsletters each time. This unfortunately will be very costly, hence why I would suggest, and yes I know I am biased, that you look at newsondemand! It really does eliminate all the physical newsletter creation tasks.

 

It of course depends upon how targeted you want to be, how much time you want to spend on email marketing, and how diverse your brand really is. It’s definitely worth looking into all of these options and seeing which would work best for you.

 

Images say 1000 words

The visual element of your newsletter is crucial. A dull and dingy newsletter will quickly be ignored. Similarly so a newsletter with reams of writing. Boring! An interesting newsletter is always one that contains lots of images, enticing the recipient to read on. Ensure this is a key element to your email strategy. And please whatever you do, ensure it complements your brand. Adopt your brands colour scheme within the newsletters so straight away the recipient knows exactly who the newsletter is from.

 

Let’s be clear now

Clarity is an essential element to newsletters. Your recipient wants to be able to grab the essentials and move on. Expecting the recipient to just magically find essential bits of information and tirelessly read through everything is an unrealistic expectation. For this reason the essentials should always be at the top, in prime view for all to see. If using software such as newsondemand, you will be able to preference which articles appear at the top, without requiring any re-work of HTML coding. But alternatively you can select these yourself and alter the layout accordingly.

 

So together, let’s update our email newsletters and defuse this outdated myth that they don’t work. It’s not true! Try my tips above and see what a difference this makes to your channel communications. You’ll wish you’d done it sooner.

12 March – 5 reasons every brand should embrace social media employee and channel advocacy programs

Social media… it’s a tricky one many brands shy away from. Making it work, whether you sell through a direct or indirect sales model, can be a real challenge. But just because it’s tricky, does not mean you should avoid it. Instead, embrace it and all that it brings. These 5 points below will explain why..

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1.Buyers spend 2/3 of their buying decision online
Influence is key. With users spending on average 1.25 hours a day on social media, this is a great place to target potential customers and be at the forefront of their minds.

Yes I’m sure some of you are thinking I’m already doing social media, but are you being a thought leader? And what about your resellers, and sales employees? Do they help your brand stand out from the crowd? Are they all influencing potential buyers as effectively as they could? If not, it is unlikely consumers are going to pick your products over competitors. Relevant, informative, and compliant content is essential. Over time you, your employees and your resellers will become social trusted advisors, and when consumers are ready, you and your advocates will be the ones chosen.

But how can I control what my resellers and employees post, I hear you ask… By using a social media amplification platform such as socialondemand®, you can send your brand messages to all of your brand advocates and enable them to share this content with their own friends, followers and business contacts.

Remember it’s not that your partners and staff don’t want to post your content; it’s that they seldom have the time or in fact know what content to post. Here you are solving this issue for them.

2.Wider target audiences
So like every organisation, I’m sure your overall aim is to grow your business and increase your revenue, right? What better way than to use social media to reach a global audience. With users all over the world, this is now possible.

And you don’t even need a huge marketing budget. Social media employee and channel advocacy programs can help you reach the audience of all your brand advocates. So, instead of limiting your reach to your immediate network of followers, use the extended reach that your employees and resellers have.

3.Engage with your audience
It’s true you may occasionally receive some negative comments on social media, but use the ability to reply to show what impeccable customer service you provide. This then puts you in a favourable light to buyers researching your products. There are numerous methods to encourage interaction, one example being competitions to obtain a response and truly engage your audience.

4.Online word of mouth
With customers doing their research before making a buying decision, it’s crucially important that they can examine how creditable your business is, and how your product could work for them. Social media allows consumers to review your offering and brand validity. Reviews are a very powerful thing, negative ones can in some cases break businesses reputation if they are not handled correctly and even worse, ignored. But they can also be hugely positive. Customer reviews are vital to assure potential customers of your trustworthiness and social media can harness this. Be translucent to buyers, it’s the best way to be.

5.Competition
Social media is a really great way to analyse what your competitors are doing. You can then determine how to stand right out from the crowd.

The size of your business does not matter when it comes to social media. It allows any business to potentially compete with the huge global players. Show buyers what you are capable of and what you are all about. Show them that you work with great partners. Show them how experienced and knowledgeable your sales staff is. If you get it right your ROI could be huge!

So whatever you do, don’t ignore social media hoping it is just a fad. It has many benefits that you should embrace. Work with your brand advocates and socially enable them. And why not make it easy for yourself and use a social media amplification platform like socialondemand to manage yours and your resellers’ accounts? Don’t just take my word for it, Microsoft, one of our customers, reach 21 million prospects every day by using social media. That could be you. Give it a go.