Channel Champion Blog

Over the last decade there has been a growing trend in partner relationship management toward a 1:1 marketing and business planning process between the marketer and their key partners. This is a process which requires marketers to work with individual partners to discuss and review the go to market strategies (GTM) of each, ultimately identifying the mutual opportunities with both current clients and new prospects that capitalize on the commonalities. Of course, executing against this plan will require an investment by the vendor, but hey that was going to happen anyway—best it goes towards a defined plan with stated goals, right?

The resulting plan is then documented in a dates, stepped approach representing important steps and commitments of each stakeholder required to achieve these mutual goals—say 6-12 months out. This includes details of specific business goals, activities, and related metrics within that plan, along with their associated costs. Those costs may be offset by the vendor using co-op or MDF allowances, but those are managed through disparate processes. To be meaningful, however, this plan needs to be updated regularly to report on its progress, including updating metrics on all the results vs plan, such as costs, activity metrics and business outcome (e.g.: units sold or $ volume attained).

This co-marketing process comes in many forms depending on the company or industry considered. But it’s possibly best represented for most regular readers of this series through the CHAMP plan (CHannel Advertising and Marketing plan—a cleaver acronym, eh?). This is a template that was initially presented on an MS Excel spread sheet that, by its very nature, was manually intensive in design and execution. That fact was minimized because the benefits of the planning process itself are tremendous, including helping to assure true alignment of business goals and to optimize the ROI of any investment in co-op or MDF funds. However, the problems of the largely manual format as executed outweighed the advantages in many instances: It required a lot of face-to- face time to gather the information, data standards were not uniform—so “goals” were expressed in different formats depending on the user–and the data didn’t roll-up to provide true hierarchical visibility. What’s more, processes for co-op/mdf management and reimbursement were managed through separate systems, so continual updating of the plan document itself was seen as “busy work” with no advantage associated with it other than to serve reporting needs. This extensive list of drawbacks meant that joint marketing planning was limited to top tier channel partners that otherwise required a high level of investment in both financial and human resources to make this laborious process all worthwhile.

Well, all the benefits of Co-marketing business planning has finally come to the masses—with none of the drawbacks. Automated business planners can facilitate the management of an entire lifecycle of the joint marketing planning: from the plan conception, forecasting results, approving the investment, rolling up plan forecast and investment data to provide a true hierarchical view of marketing and sales activities, facilitating fund claiming, and analyzing ROI at the plan’s conclusion. All these benefits can be brought to you via specialized, low touch business planning tools.
By automating the planning process via a low touch process you can obtain gobs of insight (that’s a technical term) by extending the benefits of 1:1 planning–identifying business alignment opportunities, investment review, and true ROI forecast and results comparisons to name a few—to a broader partner base. The business benefit here is that you are now able to identify the true potential of second and third tier partners to optimize your growth—beyond the top tier, which are probably at or near their peak in terms of potential growth for you anyway. Plus, you can get a true visibility into the marketing alignment, investment, and sales potential of any or all partners for a given period. Wouldn’t that answer a lot of questions for your executive team?

Just think of the possibilities! (more on that later)