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Through-Partner Marketing – How is your Field of Dreams?

Partner Marketing

One of the greatest challenges channel marketing groups face is how to generate measurable demand and sales results through and with their channel partners.

For channel marketing, enabling partners to gain access to vendor marketing tools and resources is generally a first step. However, today’s channel partners need more than access to standardized marketing resources to get results. So the question is if you build it, will they come?  

The Promise (and Power) of Through-Partner Marketing Automation 

Through-Partner Marketing Automation (TPMA) enables vendors and partners to coordinate multiple marketing activities to build mutual pipeline, streamline lead management, and accelerate revenue growth.

Structurally, TPMA is software that allows channel partners to easily create and deploy targeted, multi-touch campaigns with tailored, useful content across the marketing spectrum – online advertising, SEO, social media, syndicated content, direct mail, event support, telesales, and other tactics.

The power of TPMA is in its ability, thru closed loop tracking, to measure ROI from the channel partner’s marketing efforts, ensure the vendor’s brand is represented thru professional marketing materials and increase the ease of doing business with a vendor.

TPMA Maturity Curve

Most vendors are somewhere on the following TPMA Maturity Curve in their implementation of getting their own marketing materials in partner’s hands.

TPMA Maturity Curve

Level 1 – Basic = Available + Awareness

The first step most vendors take is to get their marketing materials available via the partner portal and provide instructions for use. However, there is little brand control once the materials leave the portal and the vendor is reliant on self-reporting results, if the partner provides it at all. Because there is the issue of awareness and low usage – many vendors take the next step in leveraging their channel account management teams to promote and build awareness. Channel account manager’s can help partner’s understand they have MDF available and that there are marketing materials available.                

Level 2 – Efficient = Automated + Available

At some point, most vendors recognize the need for automation which enables ease of use, brand control and a better ability to track results and measure ROI. There are a number of TPMA platforms available, my top six are Zift Solutions, SharedVue, Tie Kinetix, Structured Web, Revenew, and Elastic Grid.

Level 3 – Strategic = Concierge + Automated

Many vendors are stuck in the first and second levels and fail to realize the full potential and ROI results they were expecting. TPMA platforms are a significant investment that vendors can ill afford to not take full advantage of. I tend to disagree with Kevin Costner when it comes to TPMA – we can build the system but the channel partners will NOT always come and participate.

Why Not?

  1. Partners are not always aware of the platform
  2. Partners are not always knowledgeable about newer methods/tactics that TPMA systems offer
  3. Partners do not always have a marketing plan and/or the ability to connect their marketing plan to tactics available in TPMA
  4. There are very high drop-off rates when partners don’t understand how to use the system
  5. Relevant content or campaigns are not available

Our experience is that TPMA that generates a high ROI requires dedicated human capital to promote, train, enable, cajole, and ultimately generate results. The reason why vendors cannot successfully leverage their existing channel account managers is focus.

Not all partners will come and play, but the ones who are trying to actively grow their own businesses WILL see the value in effective marketing -- if you make the resources available to usher them through the ins-and-outs of TPMA. If you build it, some will come, but most of them will need to be shown to their seats.

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