When channel partner relationships are managed correctly, partners act as an extension of your marketing and sales teams and can help you quickly expand and grow your audience in new markets and verticals.
Enabling channel partners to market and sell your product is key to success in the channel. However, while accounting for 17% of high-performers’ marketing budgets, fewer than 15% of partners actually engage in the channel partner marketing programs their vendors deliver.
To address this, CMOs report partner enablement as the top channel marketing skill they intend to enhance within their marketing organization. Since it’s on the CMO’s agenda, it might be time to refresh your existing partner marketing strategies. Here are three B2B partner marketing strategies that work.
3 B2B Partner Marketing Strategies That Work:
- Give partners what they want: collaborative thought leadership
- Build programs that align with the three core B2B partner marketing goals
- Make it easy for partners to work with you
1. Give Partners What They Want: Collaborative Thought Leadership
A recent study found that 53% of partners viewed existing content provided by vendors to be mediocre or worse. However, 75% of partners in the same study ranked content as important.
Some reasons vendors miss the mark on partner content include lack of quality content, lack of understanding of channel marketing models, lack of resources for partner marketing from the corporate marketing team, and poor campaign execution.
Start with the basic content first. End customers require data sheets, detailed product information, infographics, brochures, how-tos, and so on to help them move along their buying journey. Since your partners will be the ones engaging these customers, it’s vital that they’re educated and equipped with the latest marketing materials to sell your products and services correctly. Many partners don’t have the resources or the skill sets to create this content on their own.
For lead generation content, partner collaborations are very valuable. For example, one partner may not have enough subject matter expertise to fill an entire eBook or webinar but several partners’ contributions could deliver a well-rounded, solution-centric piece of content that prospects would be happy to exchange their email address for. The execution of partner co-branded campaigns can be tricky so agency partners can help shepherd the content creation and the lead sharing.
2. Build Programs That Align With The Three Core B2B Partner Marketing Goals
While every channel partner marketing program is different depending on the needs of the organization and the market it’s operating in, there are some universal goals:
- Business development
- Market awareness
- Partner enablement
So regardless of the mix of tactics in your B2B partner marketing plan, each should align to one of your core goals and have clear KPIs so you can effectively measure how each performs.
B2B Partner Marketing Goals, Tactics, KPIs
|Goals||Business Development||Market Awareness||Partner Enablement|
Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) for partner campaigns is not easy. With siloed customer relationship management (CRM) systems, vendors and partners struggle to track the attribution of pipeline and sales back to partner marketing activities. This is a tricky problem to solve — but it’s not impossible.
Vendors that create Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) parameters for their digital partner marketing campaigns can ensure partner leads are given the correct attribution. Google offers a free URL builder to help create UTM links, but UTMs can still be tricky and time-consuming to manage. An agency partner can help with the initial program setup if your team is overwhelmed.
3. Make It Easy For Partners To Work With You
Partners are your customers too. They usually have a lot of options and they can choose to sell your product or your competitor’s. Most partners represent many brands, products, and services and it can be hard to get their attention — especially if your marketing processes are not channel-friendly.
73% of partners say vendor channel programs are too complex. It stands to reason, therefore, that vendors that are easy to work with will gain a competitive advantage. Partner marketing managers can quickly become overwhelmed with specific requests for custom content and campaigns. To alleviate this, invest in simple processes and a partner portal platform that creates a gateway for each partner. With that technology, partners can self-serve so your team can focus on the highest value activities.
However, don’t let the processes and technology become barriers to partner marketing engagement. People like to work with people. Host monthly or quarterly briefing calls to keep things personal, engage partners, keep them abreast of upcoming campaigns, and get feedback on initiatives.
Revisit Your Strategies Frequently
B2B Partner marketing isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it channel. It requires specialized skills and unique processes. Luckily there are marketing agencies like Total Product Marketing that live and breathe channel marketing and understand all the nuances it has to offer.
The services offered by channel-focused agencies range from sophisticated partner enablement programs to data analytics to the partner campaign concept and execution.
If you’re looking to breathe some life into your channel partner marketing strategies, download our Partner Marketing Strategies Playbook or get in touch with us directly to discuss your plans.