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Carriers: These 3 Major Marketing Mistakes Are Alienating Your Partners

Angry Businessman
  • Remove your logo from headers. Place them subtly in footers or, better yet, remove them entirely to let the partner’s brand shine.
  • When creating graphics, use a grayscale/neutral color palette so each partner can add their branding, and it will match.
  • Lose the “boardroom speak” and instead write copy that sounds more like a channel partner. If it seems like something they would say, they are much more likely to engage.
  • Consider removing all graphics from email campaigns. Instead, write short, text-based emails that sound like a partner actually typed them out.

Problem 2: Your partners lack the skill set and/or desire to implement marketing campaigns. Most partners do not have a full-time or even a part-time marketing person in-house. So what happens the first time they hit a snag trying to work with your materials? They get frustrated. They disengage, and your campaign goes to the bottom of their priority list, never to be seen again.

To you and me, things like managing email platforms, uploading lists and creating landing pages may be second nature. But these activities force your partners into a totally foreign world. So even if you provide a simple, step-by-step process on how to do it, they feel overwhelmed.

Solution: Provide implementation help. This can be from your internal team, or you can refer partners to a preferred provider list of agencies or contractors that you’ve vetted, because there are some bad marketers out there angling for your partners’ business.

Some companies offer concierge marketing services based on reaching various achievement levels, which I think is an excellent idea. You can also allow partners to apply MDF to campaign execution. Tired of market development funds (MDF) going to alcohol-laden events with little ROI? Add “marketing campaign execution” to the list of pre-approved MDF activities. Take it one step further, and give preference to this option.

No matter what the solution, make sure you have a done-for-you plan available. This will vastly reduce the friction of getting your marketing campaigns executed.

Problem 3: Your portals are clunky and difficult to navigate. As you know, most channel partners are sales people at heart, which usually means they have exactly zero patience. This is especially true when it comes to learning new platforms or systems. If your portal isn’t super user friendly and easy to navigate, your partners will immediately disengage. You have to make this process as simple and frictionless as possible.

Solution: Invest in through-channel marketing software. Platforms like MindMatrix, SproutLoud and Aprimo are changing the execution of through-channel marketing campaigns. When using a platform like this, the carrier uploads all the content, and even creates a cadence for the campaigns.

The partner simply creates a profile – including logo and social media accounts – and uploads a target list. The platform then:

  • Automatically co-brands all the campaign materials
  • Executes the campaigns
  • Tracks the activity and alerts the partner to potential opportunities
  • And much more.

There are some downsides to these platforms. They can be costly, and sometimes partners don’t want to upload their prospect lists for fear customers will be poached. But I think these platforms represent the future of through-channel marketing because they make it so easy for the partner to engage.

Your Mission For 2019 and Beyond

I do want to applaud the many carriers who have embraced the idea of providing through-channel marketing support to partners. You are on the forefront of this industry, and your vision is spot on.

Those companies who take these ideas to heart and implement truly frictionless, hands-free, through-channel marketing campaigns will build the most loyal partner bases, and in turn, enjoy the most robust sales results in the channel.

Angela Leavitt is the CEO of Mojo Marketing. Follow her on Twitter.

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3 comments

  1. Tom Reda December 4, 2018 @ 5:41 am

    Fundamentally sound, spot-on, actionable strategies, designed to enhance the carrier-partner relationship, yet equally applicable to any organization that markets through channel partners.

    • Angela Leavitt December 4, 2018 @ 10:25 am

      Thank you, Tom! This article is the result of many, many conversations, so I’m happy to hear it resonated with you.

  2. Daniel Pitney December 6, 2018 @ 10:59 am

    This article hits the nail on the head! The importance of the partner brand is well stated. As independent advisors continue to garner the highest win rates in the business, their marketing programs have to strike a fine balance: demonstrate supplier expertise without implying supplier loyalty.

    On the topic of turn-key, managed marketing programs, there is one aspect that our company (a UC+CC Supplier) does let the partner manage themselves, and that’s the list. By turning over this list management to the partner directly, it can be managed securely and privately on our 3rd party platform, ie., there is no need to “share” the list with us unless the partner chooses to.

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