I have been working in marketing for over twenty years. I’m sure you’ve noticed too, that recently, Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing has gone from being virtually non-existent to being one of the largest channels in marketing today. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against PPC. The problem is that if you sell through channel/sales partners, PPC is ineffective, and often, a complete waste of money.

PPC doesn’t work because, typically, it’s untargeted. A broad brush approach rarely works unless a number of factors are in your favour, like a strong website, a good selection of keywords, and not too much competition on the terms you want to bid on. I don’t know about your business and your marketing strategy, but if I’m spending my marketing budget on something, I do not want a large part of the budget to succeed or fail purely on luck.

So what does work, when your products or services are sold through a complex sales partner network? Well, for one, social media.

A recent study showed that 71% of IT buyers used social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to research future purchases (1). We’re not talking about just consumers here either, we’re talking about business customers looking at business solutions, using social media as a way of researching the companies which they intend to purchase from to deliver their enterprise solutions.

I bet you’re thinking that this is brilliant, but how can you get to these buyers, considering they don’t actually follow you? You could try Twitter and Facebook ads, but in my experience (and I am sure you’ll agree), its expensive, and you get a lot more junk coming through, than quality.

In my opinion; social media amplification through your partners is a good solution. With social media amplification platforms, you can finally share and syndicate your content via your best assets – your channel partners, sales employees and key influencers – and make social media work for your brand.

Importantly, I would be willing to bet that if you counted up all of your partners’ and employees’ followers, you’d soon find that you’ve added hundreds of thousands of followers, all reading and sharing your content. Imagine counting up the followers of your partners, and finding you’ve got an extra 4.7 million engaged prospects to influence with your branded, and syndicated content.

What about cost though? Aren’t these platforms complex, expensive and hard to successfully deploy? Well, I’m happy to share some stats from our platform to demonstrate costs aren’t an issue;  compare the cost per click of ‘social media amplification’ vs ‘PPC’. The typical cost per click on our platform, for global enterprises in the IT and Telecommunications industries, is just $0.16 (2), against a typical cost per click through PPC of $1.39 (3).

That’s a 90% saving click-per-click versus Search Engine Marketing. 

What’s more most of these platforms are web-based and are easy to use (these aren’t the complex PRMs of the 1990s!). My advice; don’t waste your money. Look at the activity you’re doing, and look into social media amplification. I am biased, but I have also worked in Channel Marketing, and have approximately 20 years of developing and deploying B2B PRM systems both in the US, and in Europe. I think it’s a far more effective way of spending your money, but please, feel free to make your own mind up.

(1) http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/30239/71-More-Likely-to-Purchase-Based-on-Social-Media-Referrals-Infographic.aspx

(2) This average was calculated in January 2014, based on the clicks generated via socialondemand for purechannelapps’ top 10 global customers.

(3) http://bryaneisenberg.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/google-adwords-benchmarks.png