Channel marketing

Social media has many uses, but one of them should not be to ‘communicate to’ your channel partners. This is where many brands are getting it wrong – trying to set-up partner-only LinkedIn Groups or Twitter accounts. Why would you want to ask partners to visit more sites for news… shouldn’t your partner portal do this? Why let the whole world know about information which is only designed for the eyes of your partners?

Instead, consider using social media as a ‘through-partner’ marketing tactic, to attract end-users to buy your products. Here is a thought: use your partners to advocate your brand! Isn’t it what you are trying to achieve when you sit down with them and write your joint business plan?

Why not invest in a social media amplification platform where you can create posts, and your partners can share these posts as their own to their connections on social media? Not only will this increase your reach and exposure, but it will also allow you to potentially increase annual revenue through social selling.

But I want to communicate to my partners?

Engaging with your partners can be hard enough, especially when you have a range of different partners, each with different needs, interests and ties with your company. Your channel partners are more than likely all different sizes, each with a different product focus, and perhaps you have grouped them into particular partner tiers. How are you then expected to send targeted news to all of these partners, and keep them engaged?

Email marketing with a difference
Using emails and HTML newsletters can be a great method to achieve this, but I wouldn’t recommend this unless you have all the tools to perform this task efficiently. Who wants to create more than five variations of the same newsletter? Not only will this be hugely expensive, but with so many different types of partner, are some recipients going to be sent the same information more than once? And how quickly will these newsletters have to be created before the news is out of date? How many of you really even know what information your partners actually want to receive?

The answer to all of these questions is our own newsondemand. I know I am biased but ask SAP and Adobe what they think of this platform, which both companies now use globally. It allows partners to select the topics they are interested in and the tool does the rest (no HTML coding required), sending them a 100%-targeted newsletter based on their preferences. Partners can decide how often they receive newsletters from you (daily/ weekly/ monthly), at what time and in which language. And what’s more, the newsletters will be presented like a sleek magazine article, with three columns, and an image allocated to each. This encourages the highest engagement possible, allowing you to effectively compete with your competitors and become the favourable vendor they push end users to.

So don’t get me wrong social media is great, but use it to attract end-users, and use your channel partners as a means to achieve this. As for communicating to your partners, HTML newsletters are still the way forward. But I would recommend only attempting this if you are willing to invest in the right tools. Otherwise prepare to be disappointed by the results.