Accomplish more by following this powerful partner marketing strategy
By T.C. Doyle
Here’s a bold thought: make your partner marketing FREE.
That’s right, FREE as in Frequent, Relevant, Empathetic and Empowered. Here’s what I mean.
Vendors struggle with partner marketing basics every day. They grapple with what to say, how often to say something and in what format. They need not, according to experts. There is a cadence, tone and significance to proper partner communications that can be easily achieved if you follow the simple FREE concepts recently discussed by experts in Channel Growth Hacking, a new, bi-monthly discussion hosted by Impartner and the JS Group. Channel Growth Hacking takes place on the second and fourth Thursday every month on Clubhouse, the drop-in social media platform.
To better understand the FREE concept, which is a modern update on the venerable marketing adage that says good marketing should be recent, frequent and monetizable, let’s break each element down into simple bites starting with frequent.
Just like good journalism, good marketing depends on consistency. In addition to being objective, timely and accurate, a good newspaper, in other words, must hit a reader’s driveway or inbox at a predictable time. When it comes to channel marketing, experts including Heather K. Margolis, the founder and CEO of two well-known advisories, Spark Your Channel and Channel Maven, advises vendors to think in terms of weekly touch points. Communicating via LinkedIn, she suggests, should be done three-to-four times per week. “Go nuts on Twitter,” Margolis says, but post judiciously on Facebook due to the mix of business and personal audiences.
While every vendor’s needs differ, establishing a cadence and then sticking to it are musts in order for your messaging to connect with your intended audience. While it sounds counter-intuitive, sometimes being predictable is the right thing to do with communications, at least as far as frequency is concerned.
After you determine when to say something, you must determine what to say. This is perhaps the most difficult step to master. Why is simple: what you want to say is often at odds with what resonates with your audience. The reason is relevancy.
Typically, vendors want to promote their solutions and services at every turn. But communications anchored in product messaging often fall short in terms of relevancy because they fail to factor in what partners are attuned to. Consider channel partners in the tech industry. Their customers no longer prioritize faster and cheaper products. Instead, end customers want answers to business problems. If your messaging to partners is rooted in solutions, great, then partners will respond positively to your message. But if your messages are little more than spec sheets about innovations and not about answers to their customers’ problems, partners will ignore you. That’s a major problem, says Dan Tomaszewski, president of Everything MSP, a tech advisory for channel partners. “If partners don’t know you, they won’t feel comfortable with you.”
Good partner marketing must be “stinking empathetic,” says Janet Schijns, founder and CEO of the JS Group, a Florida-based consultancy that helps organization refine their go-to-market strategies. By “stinking,” Schijns means messaging must be so obviously empathetic that it reeks of compassion and inspiration. This differs from relevancy, which appeals to a potential customer’s brain. In contrast, empathetic messaging connects with audiences in a much deeper way.
If you appeal to an audience’s desires and ambitions, for example, you establish a much deeper level of credibility and authenticity. This helps your audience escape the confines of traditional thinking so they may see problems and opportunities in a new light, Schijns says. When this occurs, intangibles such as quicker, better and more long-lasting seem very attainable.
“You have to remember that you are selling a dream,” says Schijns. “Your messaging, thus, shouldn’t be all about ‘look at me,’ but instead ‘look at you.’”
One of the challenges marketers face today is scaling successful messaging. This is due to the sheer volume of messaging that your content must compete with. Good content not only resonates, it also scales.
Today, scale depends on automation more than ever. Without proper tools, marketers cannot reach broad audiences, measure messaging effectiveness or follow up on responses in a timely manner.
In a bid to overcome these limitations, many organizations have developed or invested in various tools. But their scattershot approach leaves them saddled with gaps in functionality that more nimble and/or automated rivals can exploit.
For context, Channel Growth Hacking co-founder Michelle Ragusa-McBain notes the overwhelming majority of decision makers look to five different pieces of content about a service or product before they ever talk to a salesperson. Following a person on their journey and then offering influential content at the appropriate moment requires a level of automation that basic tools simply do not provide.
As a marketer, you must be more than a voyeur or “lazy liker” on LinkedIn, says McBain. You must be a thought and technology leader.
Making partner marketing FREE might not be the first thing that pops into your head when you think of ways to improve your messaging and communications, but it might be the best idea for your improving business.
For more on how technology can help you embrace FREE marketing concepts, be sure to check out what the world leader in partner automation technology, Impartner, has to offer. Ask for a free demo today.