When I joined the G3 Communications family in 2011, my primary task was to help build and launch the Channel Marketer Report brand. Fresh out of college with a Communications degree, I was hungry to prove my media savvy and make the brand a success. Part of that required diving into the channel marketing space.
What I learned in my research was simple: Channel marketing is hard. Seriously, I thought marketing directly to your audience was difficult, but imagine managing an entire ecosystem of partners and not just marketing to them but through them to your end buyers. It makes keeping up with new marketing trends and best practices even more daunting.
Now as part of Content4Demand, I help organizations develop their content strategies so they’re not only effective for their direct marketing efforts; they’re also scalable for their channel partners. During a recent webinar as part of the ChannelWeek series, I got to chat with my fellow strategist Brenda Caine about how channel marketers can successfully engage end-users with compelling content — even with challenges stacked against them.
Channel Challenge 1
Your partners have varying levels of marketing savvy.
This is a common issue in the channel space. Resellers and system integrators come in all sizes and, in turn, varying levels of marketing maturity. Some have content marketing down pat, while others still rely on batch-and-blast emails touting product spec sheets. Not to mention, there are just so many of them! Forrester estimates that there are more than 600,000 partners worldwide.
Channel marketing leaders must have a content strategy that serves their direct inbound and outbound needs, and can be bundled, customized and operationalized by partners. This is where campaigns-in-a-box or go-live kits come in handy. These turnkey content bundles feature everything partners need to launch a campaign, from content for all buyer stages to sales enablement resources and social posts. Including a quick blueprint or checklist for implementing the content will help you empower partners and ensure they’re getting the most value out of content.
Channel Challenge 2
Different partners focus on different industries.
Now more than ever, marketers must think about the bottom line. They must account for how content performs and connects to actual revenue, and moreover, how much time and resources it took to create the content. That’s why we’re big proponents of content reversioning — especially if a company speaks to a number of different industries. For instance, you may have a core platform that ISVs sell to retail, hospitality and financial services markets. You may have core messaging that aligns with the value proposition for this solution. However, how you convey this messaging will vary based on the buyer and industry to which you’re speaking.
You can create a core piece of content that has a series of elements that can be customized by industry. For instance, a series of callouts on pages make it easier for you/your partners to add industry-specific content. As you’re developing the content outline, you can even pinpoint which points should be tailored by industry. This helps ensure that the customization process is seamless and easy to implement — a huge perk for you and your partners.
Channel Challenge 3
We don’t have the time or budget to create all promotional elements for partners.
You may not have the time or resources to create content toolkits for your partners. Or you may have set MDF funds that partners need to use to access more content. Regardless of your situation, you have limitations to how much campaign-ready content you give partners access to. In these cases, we encourage companies to take a modular approach to content strategy and planning. While they may not create all content up front, they design a content theme and story that can easily be broken down into smaller pieces. I personally am a big fan of the big rock e-book (also called a hero asset), because it is built with modularity in mind. Highly visual callouts make for fantastic social images, icon-laden checklists can be transformed into standalone infographics, and sections can be broken down into tailored blogs or mini briefs. While you may not be giving partners all their content on a silver platter, you’re giving them a powerful blueprint for repurposing and breaking down content when they need it.
If you’re in the channel marketing space and you want to see some examples of these best practices, you can watch the on-demand version of the webinar Channel Marketing Remix: How New Content Formats and Approaches Are Driving Partner and Buyer Engagement here. But as you can see from this quick recap alone, there are plenty of ways for vendors to better equip their partners with powerful, buyer-focused content.
Have a follow-up question for us or want to talk about how you can get more value out of your content investments? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a call with our strategy team, and we can talk shop!