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Ensure Every Partner Marketing Dollar Is Working For You

Partners are bombarded daily with information about myriad vendor products, programs and offerings.  It’s so much information, in fact, that some partners throw up their hands and forego the investment of time and marketing development funds altogether—ultimately robbing you of their reach and connection to the customer. 

While millions of dollars are extended to partners each year, many companies remain resistant to a disciplined process for executing demand generation activities at the partner level, citing things like:

  • We don’t have enough people to work with partners to develop integrated marketing programs.
  • Our product marketing people will never agree on priorities, therefore, everything is a priority.
  • We’ve got all we can do to keep ahead of our own sales force, much less engaging early-on with indirect channels.
  • …And, many other ways to rationalize a sub-optimal process.

  • So, here are five sure-fire best practices to increase your time to market, minimize partner headache (or worse, apathy), and ensure every partner marketing dollar is working for you:

    1. Integrate partners into your demand generation initiatives from the get-go. The best bang for the buck is for partners to have a clear way to plug in to your corporate demand generation programs, including themes and tools.  With you at the hub, and partners as the conduit, you are optimizing all avenues to the customer.  This doesn’t mean you forego greenfield funding or one-off partner promotions, but that those opportunities are select and strategic.  So, when your corporate marketing department rolls out its next company demand generation program, challenge yourself to identify how each channel type will plug in to your initiatives early-on.

    2. Give partners what they need to support your brand (but don’t expect them to build your brand). This is especially challenging in light of the myriad social media channels, but be sure to share readily your messaging and value propositions with your partners.  It will make it easier for them to support your brand and ensure a consistent story.

    3. The fewer, higher dividend programs, the better.  The most experienced product/service providers run two (sometimes three) large scale, integrated, marketing initiatives a year, with a few smaller scale programs sprinkled in for good measure.  It takes time to tee up all the various demand generation vehicles, and moreover, it takes time for your messages and value propositions to reach your customers.

    4. Not every program is right for every channel.  Just like not every customer is going to respond to all your various outreach avenues, some channels are better equipped to deliver on certain aspects of your customer outreach initiatives then others.  Take the time to identify, and ideally, test, which channels are most equipped to plug in where. This minimizes overwhelm for your partners and sends a message that you understand their value.

    5. Coordinated initiatives take time. To do this right, give yourself, minimally, a six-month planning horizon with your top partners.  Some companies bring their top partners together twice a year to tell them what’s coming in six months, then ask their partners to submit their partner marketing plans for approval within 30 days (with the help of your channel marketing team).  If plans are submitted in line with your demand generation initiatives, approval is quicker, and partners can get going with the necessary time to begin execution.

    Here’s to helping your partners keep their heads above water when it comes to maximizing use of valuable channel marketing development funds. 

     

    April 10, 2013  ·  

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