The Case for Fueling Digital Marketing Enablement for Your Partners
by Matt Beatty, Sales Director, CCI
Anyone familiar with roulette? “Call Bets” or “Announced Bets” are called by a player without placing the money on the table to cover the cost of the bet. How many of us are calling out “New Buyers Journey,” “Data Driven Decisions,” or “Big Data”? These have all become ubiquitous buzz phrases, conference topics, and subjects of numerous blog posts throughout the high-tech channel marketing space for years. But we’re witnessing a coming-of-age where these terms and phrases are transcending from the exciting and trendy to the expected and executable. It begs the question: in your partner investment portfolio, how many of your chips are riding on your entire package of tools, services, and enablement to increase and improve your partners’ digital marketing chops? The reality is that if you’re hoping to benefit from the above trends, the journey starts with putting money down on your partners’ digital marketing spaces.
I recently attended the Channel Focus North America conference where I heard in various sessions and workshops a persistent theme that validates my own perspective on the inevitable evolution looming for organizations that consider themselves competitors in the high-tech domain: End users, clients, and prospects aren’t looking for a mishmash of highly technical vendors whose expertise are narrowly focused. They want business solutions coming from business partners that understand their industry and value chains.
When I survey our landscape and review digital footprints, I see many partners focused on promoting their technical competencies at best or living through digital marketing schizophrenia and identity crisis at worst. Frankly, this is a much bigger problem than simply a matter of partners not understanding Twitter or having websites that feel like the “Oregon Trail” (trek on, all my fellow 80s children). This is both a challenge and an opportunity to build a channel of partners that can truly find their own digital voice, and that are enabled to firmly position and communicate their solutions expertise within the context of industries you mutually serve.
You can’t meet this challenge by simply hooking an amp up to your company’s Twitter feed, or by pushing out content syndication that bears little to no relevance to your partners’ space in the market. The audience of “digital natives” who are the new targets for demand generation see through this and are looking for authenticity. Beyond enabling your partner for marketing success, if you have truly bought into the phrases above and are looking for more quantifiable measures towards predictive outcomes, then you need to push for much more than what you’re currently planning to invest in your partners for digital marketing.
Some interesting points coming out of CFNA related to this:
- Commit: This means more than spending 10-20% on MDF or Co-op for reimbursing micro-site builds, buying a couple of AdWords. You are the Sherpa on this journey and committing means developing a strategy alongside your partners that includes tools, consultation, and resources in addition to automation. Build your investment programs to maximize the benefits for your partners’ engagement in their digital marketing strategy with you.
- To Who?: There is more data available on your partners than ever and there are real solutions that use this data to score and queue up the right partners for engagement. Invest in these solutions to build a real scorecarding methodology that doesn’t relegate your decision to partners’ self-reported data or, worse, resort to your current top revenue partners.
- Share: Maximize collaboration and transparency with your partners when the fruits of digital marketing come back to you. As a vendor, you’re asking a lot from partners so share reports, insights, and feedback on a recurring, frequent basis. So give to get.
In our microwave culture it’s probably frustrating to hear that there is no fast-and-easy approach to helping your channel remedy their digital voice issues. You can’t simply take an “out with the old and in with the new” approach. Those younger, born in the cloud-ers haven’t yet accumulated enough industry expertise to close those solution or turnkey “XaaS” sales. Traditional partners may have lots of experience, but they aren’t familiar enough with the digital marketing tools needed to make it on the short list business buyers are creating. By investing in powerful tools and multipliers that help your partners place themselves firmly on the new route to market, you and your partners all succeed. This is neither the time nor the place to hedge your bets. My recommendation? Double down while you’re still in the game.