What is channel marketing?
Channel marketing refers to the strategies and tactics a company employs to reach its channel partners and, in turn, the end customers through those partners. Channel marketing is the driving force behind a robust indirect sales program that significantly accelerates your company’s revenue without additional sales hires. However, the term “channel” is becoming less popular in favor of “partner marketing,” which better reflects the modern partner ecosystem landscape.
At its core, channel marketing is about empowering your ecosystem of channel partners to sell your products or services more effectively. This often involves providing them with marketing resources, sales training, product education, and ongoing support. The ultimate goal is to create a mutually beneficial relationship where both you and your partners can thrive.
Channel marketing strategies are significantly driving business growth today, and will continue to do so in the future. A McKinsey article forecasts that: “By 2030, ecosystems will play a major role in almost every aspect of global economy, driving around $80 trillion in annual revenue—a third of total global revenue.”
There are several core elements in any successful channel marketing program:
- Partner recruitment: Identifying and recruiting the right types of partners for your market and customers. This process often involves market research, relationship-building activities, and presenting a compelling value proposition to these potential partners.
- Partner onboarding: Training new partners about your products, services, and sales processes, which may include product demonstrations, sales training sessions, and marketing materials that partners can use to promote your offerings.
- Marketing support: Providing partners with co-branding opportunities, marketing collateral, and promotional materials. These resources help partners market your product more effectively to their customers.
- Sales enablement: Offering resources such as sales scripts, pricing guides, or CRM systems that help partners sell your product or service.
- Performance tracking: Monitoring and evaluating partner performance to ensure they are meeting their sales targets and providing quality service to customers. Regular check-ins, feedback sessions, and performance-based incentives can help motivate partners and keep them engaged.
- Ongoing support and engagement: Maintaining regular communication with partners, addressing their concerns or challenges, and keeping them updated about product updates or company news. This could also include partner appreciation events or incentive programs.
An example from the tech industry might help illustrate the concept. A software company could create a partner program for its network of value-added resellers (VARs), offering them resources such as co-branded marketing collateral, sales training webinars, and a dedicated partner portal where they can access product updates and support. They might also set up a rewards program to incentivize their VARs to meet or exceed sales targets.
Channel marketing is more than just selling through partners, though. It’s about creating a cooperative growth strategy that equips partners to succeed and provides them with the resources and support they need to deliver your product effectively to the end customer. Investing time and resources in channel marketing can lead to significant returns, helping you reach more customers and grow your business faster, together.