Applicability, frequency and timeliness are qualities that each should have
By T.C. Doyle
Let’s be honest: a lot of partner content is awful. By awful, we mean it lacks originality, appropriateness and, far too often, thoroughness.
This, of course, assumes partners can even find content developed for them. There may be no greater irony in business than the only reason more people do not know how bad partner content can be is because so few people can find it.
If this sounds in any way like your situation, don’t panic. We make it our mission at Impartner to help PRM customers improve the communications they share with partners. We have several tools including Through Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA) and News on Demand solutions that are designed for this very purpose. But this isn’t about us. Instead, this blog is for you. We want to help you better understand why your existing partner content may be missing the mark.
When thinking in terms of partner content, keep three qualities foremost in mind:
If you think about it, your partner content should be designed like a lot of the materials you share with end customer prospects in your drip marketing campaigns. In your drip campaigns, you painstakingly make an effort to not overwhelm or interrupt learning cycles and customer journeys. The same principle applies to your partner content.
Here’s a closer look at each of the three variables and why thinking of them in terms of drip marketing can help improve your partner content communications.
Studies reveal that our attention spans are under pressure like never before. A typical knowledge worker sends and receives more than 100 emails per day. This same person also spends more time in meetings. In fact, one study shows that 15% of an organization’s time today is spent in meetings — a figure that has increased every year since 2008.
You know where this is going: you know you have a short window to grab partners’ attention. But do you know how best to use that window? To achieve this objective, think in terms of audience, form and tone.
Is your content developed for specific partners types, for example? Is it focused on individual business models, professional roles, business maturity levels, geographies and more? Consider: new partners have vastly different needs than longtime loyalists. Likewise, sales professionals are generally not interested in engineering updates unless they translate into new business opportunities.
Before you create another piece of partner content, ask yourself who is intended for and if it packaged appropriately. Few people, for example, have time to read lengthy whitepapers or pore over detailed financial reports. If your information can be conveyed in an information graphic, then don’t deliver it in a lengthy text-heavy document. Also note that more professionals consume information on mobile devices than a decade ago, so consider video, podcasts and other mediums to convey information.
Lastly, don’t forget tone: keep legal out of your partner communications because nothing says, “we don’t trust you” like something written in “legalese.” A better way? Clear, concise and honest communication. That’s what partners want, every time.
Young communicators are taught in journalism school that when news is delivered is every bit as important as how it is presented. When it comes to newspapers, delivery consistency is as important as content reliability. Partner content isn’t so different.
Which brings us to you: are you communicating in a consistent and predictable manner? Or do you overwhelm partners at times important to you only to disappear for weeks if not months afterwards? Again, think of your drift campaigns.
You understand that prospects cannot go from “just browsing” to “checkout now” without going through a journey. The same is true of partners, which typically expose themselves to new material, then immerse themselves in it before finally developing proficiency in a new concept, program or business model.
As someone tasked with helping advance your organization’s agenda within partner constituents, don’t underestimate how important communications cadence is. When a new partner demonstrates interest in your organization, keep them engaged with regular and frequent communications. And after they become a productive member of your partner ecosystem, never assume that your previous communications have hit the mark 100% of the time.
You know from your drip campaigns that you must connect with a customer prospect between seven and a dozen times before they will ask for a demo or request a quote. Similarly, partners need multiple exposure to your ideas and innovations before they fully understand them. The same goes for your programs, policies and promotions, too.
This is why your emails campaigns, newsletters and other communications vehicles must be timed appropriately. Nothing helps coordinate your frequency better than automation.
Some timing miscues are a result of bad luck. In 2017, for example, Airbnb launched an ad campaign that promoted “aquatic adventures” that tantalized travelers with a chance to spend a week on a houseboat that never touched dry land. The campaigned dropped just as Hurricane Harvey pounded the Gulf Coast of Texas.
Other mistakes are entirely avoidable. Take your asset library for example. Time and again, organizations make it impossible to search. Worse, they don’t build-in “begin” and “end” dates to things they produce on behalf of partners, which can create chaos afterwards.
The best message in the world will fall flat on its face if it’s delivered at the wrong moment. Consider a sales incentive you announced for the third quarter a year ago. If that somehow resurfaces three quarters later in your partner content stream, partners will think the promotion is still valid.
If you haven’t lived through having to tell a partner that they are not getting an incentive because it lapsed, then pray you never have to. This is doubly-true if they counted on a backend rebate to offset any margin loss on overly aggressive customer pricing.
Now consider the whole of your asset library. It may contain outdated product spec sheets, price lists, competitive analyses and more. Certainly, it has dated videos, case studies and product roadmaps. If so, that’s problematic. Like food in the fridge, information is no good once it’s past its expiration date.
When you successfully add applicability, frequency and timeliness to your partner content, you achieve greater relevancy with your community. That’s critical for building mindshare, loyalty and financial success with your partners.
But achieving relevancy requires more than commitment. It also requires automation — the kind that Impartner provides the world over in many industries and to customers large and small.
To understand how automation can elevate the relevance of your partner content, request an Imparter demo. Spend just 30 minutes with one of our partner content specialists and you will see a new world of possibilities. Ask for your Impartner demo today.
Your partners will thank you.