There is no more powerful concept in go-to-market strategy than the channel.
The idea of hundreds or thousands of independent partners passionately selling your products is a wildly attractive concept. But longstanding challenges with messaging, funds utilization and performance management have complicated this lucrative way to get your products in the hands of potential customers:
It takes a lot of time and money to execute channel marketing programs.
About 50 percent of the money brands give to partners for marketing will go unused.
Partners don’t know how to execute high-ROI digital campaigns.
But these are all challenges based on a 20th-century view of technology. The cloud, dynamic ad templates, intelligent funds management and centralized analytics are literally hacking the channel marketing model and making it better: more affordable, more efficient, more transparent and more effective.
In this article, we explore the common misconceptions many brand marketers have about getting their message into market through the channel.
MISCONCEPTION No. 1:
Channel marketing is an OpEx (operating expense) nightmare
Almost every brand uses indirect distribution in some way. Done right, a strong channel program can deliver more products into the hands of potential customers than any direct sales force. But the bigger challenge has always been how to get partners to effectively promote your products. Getting your marketing programs in the hands of thousands of independent partners creates a lot of challenges that drive up OpEx.
Localization:Partners need to add their logo, contact information, and even pictures to marketing assets in order to drive traffic and leads to their businesses. Paying agencies to build templates, managing the approval process and paying a local vendor to add the partner’s artwork all drive up costs for every campaign.
Vendor sprawl:Digital advertising is crucial to success in today’s oversaturated marketing atmosphere. But highly targeted digital tactics must be used in conjunction with tried-and-true traditional media. This is causing brands to contract more and more marketing vendors to provide multi-tactic choices to their partners. More vendors means more legal fees, more invoicing, more manual work preparing assets for all those vendors and more personnel to manage them.
Wasted funding:Your partners are great at selling, but they may not be great at marketing. Selecting the right type of campaigns, finding a reputable local vendor and spending brand co-op or MDF (market development funds) wisely are all challenges for local business owners. So after all the OpEx you have spent creating and distributing campaigns, the additional budget you commit to cooperatively fund partner campaigns may be going to waste.
You can expand your reach while lowering your OpEx
Through-channel marketing automation (TCMA) is an exciting new technology that is helping brands improve the performance of their channel marketing programs while reducing the cost of managing them.
Dynamic templates:Using TCMA, a brand can load all campaign assets as dynamic templates into a cloud-based portal. This allows partners to localize marketing assets according to brand-developed guidelines. This means no agencies, no approvals and no rogue advertising. Brands can reallocate the personnel dedicated to administrative work to creating more messaging and more campaigns.
Integrated vendors:With the right TCMA platform, brands can leverage an integrated ecosystem of marketing service providers that are best in their field at everything from PPC (pay-per-click) to direct mail. Using these integrated vendors takes the weight of vendor management off the brand and eliminates the contracting, invoicing and day-to-day management work that drags down so many brand marketing departments.
Point-and-click local execution:Vendor integration means partners no longer have to search for vendors and deal with all the delays, deceptions and disappointments that come with trying to manage marketing themselves. Using a TCMA platform allows partners to select, subscribe and execute almost any type of campaign. This gets them out of the back office and onto the sales floor.
MISCONCEPTION No. 2:
The necessary evil of co-op and MDF