article | July 11, 2018
The 5 Best Practices for Improving Partner Marketing
CMOs are constantly balancing expectations to enable organic revenue growth, capture market and/or wallet share, and provide the foundational platform to ensure successful entry into new markets.
This makes for a highly complex environment that requires a very technical approach to a role that is often not fully understood by the rest of the executive team.
An organization’s marketing complexity grows exponentially when the Total Addressable Market can only be fully served by leveraging indirect channels.
Additional risks such as loss of control, loss in brand, and loss of message must be balanced with the promise of fully leveraging a partner’s capability (be it a technical, geographic or process value add) in building your overall answer to the ultimate marketing question of “what’s in it for your customers and why should they care?”.
Neglecting partners in your marketing strategy is a quick way to miss a revenue target. Paying attention to all channel partners will stretch a team and your budget to breaking point. A “throw it on the wall and see what sticks” approach, and signing up every channel partner to represent your products does not grow sales. In fact, it does the opposite, it reduces sales.
Leverage this Partner Marketing Evaluation Tool to guide you on where you are in term of your current capabilities in Partner Marketing:
What are the 5 best practices for improving your organization’s approach to the vital discipline of partner marketing?
Demand drivers are changing dynamically, making market segments splinter into numerous sub-segments. Growth markets stagnate, and new growth markets emerge seemingly overnight.
A contemporary view of your organization’s channel segmentation absolutely must be the start point for channel decision making. Additional account level segmentation within the channel will help you understand where to deploy marketing resources to enable the quickest route to revenue and will facilitate dynamic budgeting capability to create more demand and do it quicker.
Often, cutting off the expensive and low-return long tail that gets illuminated through segmentation frees up valuable marketing budget for more effective uses.
You need to understand WHY your most productive partners are knocking it out the park, and you need to understand WHY other partners are propping up the stack rank.
Creating an Ideal Partner Profile, using the appropriate scoring and modeling inputs based on actual performance and best in class industry benchmarks, will help you determine the partners to prioritize and the partners you should de-prioritize.
Questions such as “do your partners have a dedicated marketing function?” are important inputs in determining how you market with, to and through your channel. Matching partner capability with that of your own to ensure both entities are equally valued within a campaign with help you scale across geographies, verticals or markets.
A well communicated marketing operating rhythm that brings partners to the planning table and vests them in the overall design and operational success of the marketing strategy is key to success.
You cannot expect a channel partner to excel in a one-way street of instruction (that may change without context and in an irregular fashion). Additionally, your partners are often the closest touch-points to your customers. To not leverage their perspective and input from a field and theater perspective is a criminal waste of the gift of feedback and market intelligence.
Partner interlock as the start-point of a support rhythm is vital. Furthermore, a robust and repeatable channel operational rhythm sets up a framework for ongoing performance management and provides a platform for ongoing inspection of the ever-changing cost of acquisition and ROI.
Compensation drives behavior.
Regardless of Co-Op, Loyalty, or MDF payment, and regardless of how well a program is segmented, communicated, and supported within the partner enablement infrastructure, a program’s incentive plan will 100% make or break the outcome.
Misaligned incentive is often amplified within the channel as the partner’s field resources lack some of the softer incentives such as employer loyalty driving direct employee counterparts. This represents incredible risk for the brand. Alignment and shared understanding of how incentives manifest in the field is a must.
If your marketing org design merely accommodates the channel, you will fail.
You need to embrace the channel by dedicating resources that understand the stark differences when dealing with partners versus direct go-to-market.
Your org design should include a marketing team who sole mission is to uphold the key elements your brand promise while delivering the programmatic flexibility to include the value adds delivered in the field by the diverse partner population.
Leverage this Partner Marketing Evaluation Tool to guide you on where you are in terms of your current capabilities in Partner Marketing:
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