Channel marketing is a strategy businesses can use by working with third parties to take your products or services to a larger audience. It helps organizations to quickly go to market and scale no matter what size an organization is.
In this article, we’ll highlight the value add of channel marketing for CMOs.
Why CMOs Should Implement Channel Marketing
If you’re a CMO looking to diversify your lead sources, channel marketing shouldn’t even be a question. More foot traffic equals more revenue equals the ability to scale quickly. That’s your whole goal, right?
We know cost is always a factor when determining if a new marketing strategy is the right fit for your business. The cost of channel marketing is relative to the market you’re in. Some quick research should give you a good idea about what the profit margins will be in working with a channel partner.
How Channel Marketing Impacts Business Growth
Channel marketing provides a quick and easy way to expand your reach to consumers who otherwise may not have found you, thereby increasing your brand awareness.
Say you’re a tire manufacturer with your own brick-and-mortar locations. Your store does well, but you’re wondering how to expand beyond your storefront, so you decide to increase your reach by also selling your tires through a distributor. That distributor selling your tires is performing channel marketing for you.
Partnering with a nationally known distributor allows your product to quickly become a brand in stores around the country. This expanded reach allows for quick and easy scalability.
Channel partners also produce marketing campaigns of their own. Being able to utilize a channel partner’s marketing department allows you to create a larger volume of marketing collateral without negatively impacting your own internal marketing budget.
Is Channel Marketing Worth the Effort?
Allowing your tires to be featured in stores nationwide sounds amazing, right? Unfortunately, once you put the power in a distributor’s hands, everything else can fall out of your control. You have limited insight into how the distributor is marketing your product, how it speaks to prospective customers, and what other competitors’ incentives may be. And then, your tire could be featured right next to your competition.
Attribution can also prove difficult in channel marketing. If you’re running a sales-incentive program as a part of your strategy, pay close attention to if you can track proper payout. Having these conversations early with a new channel partner is key to success.
Another cost to pay attention to is the scalability of your employees. Who will help run the program? Who will be in charge of relationships with channel partners? Who will be responsible for seeking new channel partners? Factoring in the cost to ramp up a team fit to play the part—and the cost of employing that team—is key to ensuring profitability.
Channel Marketing Strategies to Keep in Mind
Many different marketing strategies can produce ROI. For channel marketing, we’ve highlighted a few of our favorite tactics for optimal growth:
1. Understand Your Target Audience
Have you gone through an extensive process of interviewing existing customers or even dream customers to identify who your target audience is? If not, this should be your first priority. Interview customers to find out what process they went through to find and purchase your product or service, what pain points led them to your solution, how they secured their budget, and so much more. Knowing your target audience allows you to tailor your marketing messaging and choose appropriate channels that resonate with your people.
2. Build Strong Relationships with Distributors
Establishing and maintaining strong partnerships with distributors are keys to success in channel marketing. Don’t just tell them about your product or service once—provide them with the necessary training and ongoing support to effectively sell and promote your products. That includes marketing and sales collateral, talking points for what makes your product stand out, and maybe even deals for their customers.
3. Maintain Consistent Branding Across All Channels
Equipping your channel partners with comprehensive sales collateral and training materials ensures that they will have the knowledge and resources needed to effectively sell your products—as well as build brand trust and recognition with consumers.
4. Use Multiple Distribution Channels
Diversification is key, whether you’re looking at approaching your marketing strategy as a whole or incorporating diversification into your channel marketing suppliers. The more partnerships you have, the broader your audience can be; it’s as simple as that.
5. Implement E-Commerce Solutions
It’s almost 2024, and If your online presence isn’t top-notch, you’re behind the ball. You absolutely need a strong, bulletproof online presence as well as e-commerce capabilities for your products. A well-designed website with an easy ordering process can enhance customer experience and increase revenue.
6. Invest in Marketing Automation
Implementing marketing automation tools (such as HubSpot) saves you both time and money. Marketing automation can streamline communication with distributors and end customers. Your marketing automation strategy should be all-inclusive with features such as the ability to host a CMS, email, publish on social media, track sales data, and benefit from closed-loop reporting.
7. Offer Incentives for Channel Partners
Providing incentives for your channel partners to motivate them to sell more of your products can move mountains. Incentives can include volume discounts, performance-based bonuses, and more.
8. Provide Excellent Customer Support
You’re only as good as your customer support team. If a customer has an issue with your product, you want to ensure your customer support is top-notch so they turn around and rave about you to their friends. Customer support can span both channel partners and your current customers. A positive customer experience can lead to repeat business and spread positive word of mouth.
If you’re interested in channel marketing but not sure where to start, SmartBug Media can help. Not only do we pride ourselves on having wonderful channel partners (looking at you, HubSpot and Klaviyo), but we also are experts in attribution reporting to ensure you’re getting the most revenue possible from your new efforts.
About the author
Heather Hiltzik is a director of client services at SmartBug Media. She leads a team of strategists and works with clients on SEO, analytics, lead generation, sales enablement, customer success, and inbound marketing strategy. Heather got her MBA in marketing at the University of Illinois. In her spare time, she loves to travel and spend time with her husband and three rescue dogs. Read more articles by Heather Hiltzik.