How Does Your Vendors' Marketing Support Stack Up?
As a channel partner, adopting a cloud services model creates significant opportunities for winning new business. Cloud services enable partners to serve customers beyond those that reside in close proximity to their physical location(s) because on-site infrastructure maintenance is no longer needed. And over time, building up an install base consisting of high-margin, recurring revenue offers partners the ability to scale costs with revenue, increase lifetime customer value and generate more predictable revenue streams.
However, transitioning existing customers to cloud services alone won’t be enough to close the initial top-line revenue gap as channel partners evolve their business models. Channel partners will need to increase the number of customers they serve to achieve the same amount of top-line revenue each year when selling cloud services, compared to when they were selling, upgrading, installing and maintaining IT in an expensive infrastructure model. This is likely why CompTIA’s research found that nearly half of channel firms expect their revenue growth to come mainly from new customers over the next two years.
To be successful selling cloud services, channel partners need to increase the focus on customer acquisition. Relying only on word-of-mouth isn’t going to cut it – it’s time to step up marketing. Below are five key areas where vendors can help make life a lot easier for their channel partners when it comes to marketing.
Full library of marketing materials: At a bare minimum, most vendors should provide their reseller partners with a suite of materials that can either be fully-branded or co-branded. Channel partners shouldn’t be expected to curate content and develop tools and resources for every single product or service that they sell. That’s just not feasible when they have dozens of vendors with many different services. These types of materials are critical for building awareness, generating leads and even closing deals. Pre-made, ready-to-go vendor marketing materials should include:
- White papers
- Sales presentations
- Email templates
- And more…
One-on-one marketing consulting: Some vendors have marketing experts readily available to provide one-on-one consulting on how to drive demand and generate leads for their services. These experts will work closely with channel partners to understand their target market and business objectives, and they will also help develop a marketing strategy that consists of various programs and campaigns. This type of support can be enormously beneficial; but if channel partners don’t have the marketing infrastructure, resources, expertise or budget, it will be challenging to execute on the consultant’s recommendations. Additionally, one-on-one support is only typically offered to a select group of partners that drive a high volume of sales. If channel partners are not currently receiving one-on-one marketing support from their vendors, it certainly can’t hurt to ask. And to increase the chances of getting that support, they should always come prepared with a proposal that outlines clear tasks and demonstrates their commitment to growing their business with their vendors. It will go a long way.
Campaigns-in-a-box: Essentially, these are pre-built integrated marketing campaigns that tell a consistent story across a variety of marketing tactics to help raise awareness and increase lead generation. The campaign story is carefully thought through and brought to life with research that highlights a business problem, and it also offers a solution on how it can be solved with the vendor’s products and services. The campaign’s pre-made assets include content that’s fully designed for emails, landing pages, blog posts, social media and more. These assets are in near-final form requiring only slight customization (i.e., adding a logo, contact information, etc.). The catch: in order to take full advantage of campaigns-in-a-box, channel partners need tools to customize, execute and track these campaigns. This makes marketing automation platforms like Marketo or Eloqua a “must-have” along with the expertise to operate them.
Through-partner marketing automation platforms: Through-partner marketing automation platforms take the elements of campaigns-in-a-box outlined above to the next level. Providers of through-partner marketing automation platforms work with vendors who license their software and pass it on to channel partners. Unlike traditional automation platforms, through-partner marketing automation platforms like Elastic Grid do NOT require expertise to operate and are far more intuitive. Through-partner marketing automation platforms are often pre-loaded with robust, integrated marketing campaigns created by vendors that can be fully customized and launched with just a few clicks of the mouse. And to close the loop, these platforms also provide real-time tracking and lead alerts to help ensure partners are fully capitalizing on interest generated by their campaigns.
Through-partner marketing automation platforms are great to leverage if channel partners don’t have in-house marketing expertise, tools and resources. A sales representative or even an office administrator has the ability to implement a full-on integrated marketing campaign in just minutes. The only downfall is that many of these tools, when compared to traditional marketing automation platforms, limit a channel partner’s ability to have full control over campaign assets and flow – and to create new campaigns from scratch. However, with these platforms being fairly new, they have not yet been widely adopted by vendors.
Lead pass: The easiest way to increase lead volume is to have a vendor that will simply hand them over. According to CompTIA’s research, 65-75 percent of IT products and services sold to businesses in the United States are delivered through or influenced by the indirect channel. Many vendors are fully aware of this statistic and understand the tremendous value-add that channel partners bring to their solutions. Because of that, vendors will identify leads that are much better suited for a channel partner and will pass them on.
As the industry shifts to a cloud services delivery model, new customer acquisitions and marketing are more important than ever. Channel partners should take a close look at the vendors they already work with or are considering partnering with. How does their marketing support stack up? Do they meet any or all of the five key areas outlined above? At the end of the day, channel partners can’t serve as the marketing experts for all of the products and services they sell. Working with vendors that truly support their marketing needs is vital to streamlining success. So what’s the best way to determine if a vendor delivers upon these resources? That’s easy – just ask.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson