July 2012 Feature

Empowering Partner Success With Full-Service Marketing

by Anna Johnson

What is at the heart of a great partner marketing strategy? Is it great content? The go-to-market plan? Or is it the ability to execute on that plan in a seamless and scalable manner? Your partners may be experts on effectively selling solutions but don’t necessarily have a lot of expertise or money to effectively market the solutions. Increasingly, the heart of a partner marketing strategy is the ability to execute joint marketing plans, and partners are looking for the marketing support to do just that.

June ImageThe inability to execute or only partially execute joint marketing plans is not a new problem for vendors and partners. Providing full-service marketing support for partners is a piece of the partner portal ecosystem that directly addresses this problem. Channel Management Insights sat down with Peter Thomas, president of Averetek, to discuss why the heart of the partner marketing strategy needs to include a full-service marketing component to the partner portal ecosystem.

Successful Marketing Isn’t About Pricing or Lead Sharing Anymore

In the high-tech heyday, the core of the partner marketing strategy was about setting and standardizing advantageous partner pricing and margins. Those days are long gone and new tech start-ups, as well as long-established tech companies, need to go well beyond a price-quoting tool and lead-sharing system as part of their partner portal. “The channel is looking to partner with vendors who will help them win new business,” says Thomas. But what exactly does winning new business entail? “Partners are looking for prescriptive guidance about marketing,” says Thomas. “They don’t have the resources in-house or the experience to execute a successful multi-touch marketing campaign,” Thomas continues. Prescriptive marketing guidance from vendors goes beyond customized collateral and sales decks. It enables partners to access the same marketing engine that drives the vendor business. In short, access to full-service marketing support includes, but is not limited to:

  • Email campaign creation, deployment, and reporting
  • Event planning and execution
  • Telemarketing
  • Telesales and lead-generation programs

Should Vendors Really Be In the Full-Service Marketing Business?

Is providing full-service partner marketing going above and beyond the mission of your company? Could the same be accomplished by doing lead referral programs or localizing co-branded partner marketing collateral? Chances are your company is already doing full-service marketing on behalf of a few key partners and doing a little bit of marketing automation support on behalf of all your partners. One issue that prevents vendors from committing to integrating seamless marketing support into the partner ecosystem is the issue of scalability. “Fortunately, your existing investment in marketing automation infrastructure is specifically designed to be scalable and can be leveraged for partners,” says Thomas. “And the extension of your existing marketing infrastructure to your partners can be achieved through third-party providers like Averetek.”

Important Benefits to Consider

There are several benefits to offering integrated marketing support to partners. Here are a few to consider:

  • Seamless execution on joint marketing plans
  • Increased prospect outreach through partners
  • More prospect-to-customer conversions
  • Partner marketing transparency through new access to metrics and reporting

The last bullet point is especially compelling to vendors. “Transparency of marketing data through partner campaigns is one of the major benefits of extending your partner portal ecosystem to include full-service marketing,” says Thomas. “As a vendor, imagine accessing campaign data from emails or event registrations across thousands of global partners with just a few clicks of a mouse. How would your decision-making process change for the better? How quickly could you act on those decisions? Your partner marketing team could test and tweak campaign materials quickly with improved conversions,” Thomas continues. This new transparency would allow vendors to make changes once and reap the benefits across the entire channel immediately. In addition, it ensures consistency of the vendor’s brand and messaging since partners are coming to one place for all their co-marketing needs.

Wise Words

Thomas advises that before rolling out seamless marketing support to your channel, you should consider the overall partner experience. Today, vendors are providing some partners with full-service marketing support. The execution is often project managed between partner account managers and partner marketing. However, in addition to stating the obvious – that this model is not scalable – it’s also a poor experience for partners. A lot can be lost in communication and implementation through various parties. Instead, keep in mind the overwhelming amount of information partners are inundated with from customers and vendors. “The best thing vendors can do is to provide simple, on-demand access to marketing support through their existing partner portal. It’s important that partners can access everything in one spot,” advises Thomas.

Conclusion

A lot of trends are temporary, like tie-dyed t-shirts and bell bottom jeans. But full-service marketing is a trend that stems from a natural evolution of the partner portal ecosystem. For the last decade, vendors have invested in creating content for the channel. The fundamental marketing campaign technology to reach prospects across the globe has been carefully fine-tuned but hasn’t been leveraged for partners to access. If given the opportunity to leverage this technology, vendors could access improved data collection and reporting of the channel’s marketing campaigns. Vendors could glean new insights. Changes to marketing campaigns as a result of this new reporting will improve the number of conversions as well as reduce the time it takes to convert prospects. Taking all of these benefits into consideration, adding the full-service marketing component might just be the spark that ignites the heart of your partner marketing strategy.