If there’s one thing we can all agree on within channel, it’s that – if done well – marketing is a great way to generate end-user demand. That in turn drives revenue and sales. The problem is, after talking to many, many vendors we see across the board that less than 15% of partners are actively participating in their partner marketing campaigns. That means millions of dollars are going to waste. And that’s frustrating to say the least.
Why these grim numbers? Is there a lack of resources, a lack of time, or a lack or prioritization? Are the campaigns and assets themselves lacking? Are these campaigns communicated through email blasts? Are partners meant to go looking for them in a partner portal?
Do you have a time problem or a priority problem?
If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: your partners don’t have the time, resources, or knowledge to facilitate high-quality marketing campaigns for you. But this is not the only think holding them back. Consider this: have you correctly prioritized marketing with your partners?
If you just expect your partners to start magically running campaigns, you’re sorely mistaken. It’s important to explain – right at the start – why partners should participate in your campaigns. What do you expect them to do, what’s in it for them, how will it bring value to their end-users?
How do you convince partners that channel marketing participation is important?
You can do this by proving performance on your campaigns. That doesn’t mean taking a campaign, letting it loose on end-users and asking partners to participate. Instead, try running a campaign in one region and if performed well, offer the insights to your partners. Ask them whether you can work together to bring this to their end-users. Define who to target and how to target them. Then create a plan with a clearly defined desired outcome.
What if you don’t have proof of concept? In that case it’s still important to set your targets together. Are you looking to generate opportunities, revenue, or expand your brand into new territories?
Define potential blockers. Already tried some routes and failed? Make sure to include that in your plan.
How do you go from using your partners to working with your partners?
So often the channel focuses on what partners need to do for you instead of what’s in it for them. If you can’t answer that and trigger them to want to bring your solution to end-users, then you need to go back to the drawing board.
Always start from the question ‘what’s in it for them?’
How to make partner marketing a priority?
When’s the last time you heard ‘I don’t have time!’? Last month, last week, yesterday? Sure, your partners may think they don’t have time, but in reality they probably just didn’t prioritze. So how do you make a more persuasive argument than a simple ‘but it will only take 10 minutes!’?
If you expect your marketing campaign to generate ROI, but your partner doesn’t have time, ask questions. What are the priorities? What outcome do they expect from those priorities? Can’t answer that, then it’s time to have a priority conversation.
Sales and marketing need to work together
If there’s a surefire way to make marketing a priority, it’s by getting sales involved. Because really, how can you create a marketing strategy if you don’t know what the sales objective is? How do you follow up on your lead-gen strategy without sales? And how does sales get in front of end-users without marketing?
You need to get senior marketing and senior sales on the same page by creating a long-term vision together. Put the sales message in the marketing plan and make sure this translates into partner marketing. Then have sales do the follow up once opportunities start to come in.
Some of the common sales and marketing objectives are:
- How are you going to reach end-users?
- How are you going to market this internally?
- How are you going to build a sales plan?
- What existing end-users are we targeting?
- What new end-users are we targeting?
Make sure to answer all of these questions in your partner marketing plan.
The smaller the partner, the smaller the marketing team
A simple lack of prioritization is not the case for everyone though.
For a lot of SMB partners that we talk to, the reality is that they have one – or none – FTE working on marketing. And those employees are the ones taking care of the brand’s corporate marketing too. Say they have 20 to 30 vendors to manage… well, the math just doesn’t add up.
Scaling through automation
Yes, you need to establish why partners need to prioritize marketing by explaining what’s in it for them. But you also need to facilitate the partners. How can you make it realistic for them to publish your marketing efforts? Automation comes to mind. It can help you deliver campaigns not just to but through your partners’ channels, then you can really scale your marketing efforts.
What can you do to make your partners’ life easier?
- Have an automation platform in place
- Create co-branded assets for them
- Have assets translated into their end-users’ language
So do you have a resource or a priorities-problem? Are your sales and marketing teams working together to really drive your message through partners to end-users? Consider how you can make it as easy as possible for your partners to participate in your partner marketing campaigns. Then see the opportunities flood in.
If you liked this article about prioritization in partner marketing be sure to check out Partnerships Unraveled episode 4. Want to listen on another platform, we have them listed here.