When the best partners have countless companies vying for their attention, how do you stand out from the rest and build a mutually beneficial relationship? The answer lies in well-executed partner marketing programs and tactics, which happen at the intersection of sales enablement, to-partner marketing, and through-partner marketing.
Sales enablement provides a sales team with the tools and collateral needed to improve the execution of vital sales activities like managing major accounts, making sales calls, and targeting important prospects. Basically, sales enablement ensures that your sales team has all the tools they need to consistently engage consumers at every stage in the customer’s purchasing cycle.
Over the years, sales enablement has evolved online to provide faster, more on-demand means of training, support, and documentation not just for your direct sales team, but also to your channel partners. This invaluable step in executing any campaign includes playbooks, white papers, data sheets, cheat sheets, campaign overviews, and more. Additionally, when your partners are knowledgeable on follow-up campaign strategies, conversion rates will be much higher.
Having a powerful partner portal in place is vital to ensuring you’re able to provide your channel with timely content like incentive programs, promotions, and more. The objective is to provide the right amount of information and resources without inundating your partners with too much collateral. This ongoing and strategic process will empower partners to properly engage the buyer throughout the entire buying process to increase leads and conversion rates.
To-partner marketing focuses on vendors engaging partners so they see the value of doing business with them. When the partner asks, “What’s in it for me?” the vendor’s answer is to-partner marketing. With your partners working with any number of other vendor programs, to-partner marketing allows you to stay at the forefront of your partners’ minds.
Although to-partner marketing doesn’t impact the end buyer, it does treat the channel partner as the consumer of your marketing materials. Thoughtful, branded content provided through email marketing, newsletters, social media channels, and more will educate your partners on your company’s voice, services, and products.
One step further is through-partner marketing, which focuses on helping partners market to the end user. This type of partner marketing focuses on lead generation and giving partners the tools to create customer interest in the vendor’s products and/or services.
Through-partner marketing may include training to help a partner sell a new product or create marketing materials that explain the benefits of a consumer using the vendor’s services. For example, a through-partner marketing tactic could be to train a big-box retailer in the benefits of a new line of smart home electronics. With through-partner marketing, you're equipping your partners to take your message to market.
This makes through-partner marketing essential and beneficial both to your channel organization and to your valued partners. If your partners lack the right tools, your message won’t make it to market, and everyone loses out on leads and conversions and ultimately revenue.
It’s All Done Through Content Marketing
While to-partner marketing allows vendors to engage and empower their partners, through-partner marketing provides those same valued partners with the tools they need to successfully market to the end customer.
Among these tools is valuable, relevant, and engaging content for each step of the sales process. Gone are the days of the one-size-fits-all approach to marketing to consumers. A vendor’s content must be tailored to all potential buyers and all potential scenarios, and partners need access to this collateral to succeed. Consumer-facing content created for each step of the sales cycle will allow channel partners to provide relevant and useful information to the right audiences at the right time. Partner-facing content—training materials, marketing materials, data sheets, etc.—is likewise essential in making sure your channel partners are prepared to engage with consumers.
According to Forrester,
"Partners are placing greater value on your enablement programs, your systems, and your accessibility, not just your financial incentives. Partner value-adds are not seen as perks, but expectations."
Partners have great expectations, which is why it’s vital that you provide your partners with all of the tools and partner marketing programs necessary to succeed.
Successful partner marketing programs have the ability to increase the visibility of a company, its market reach, and, ultimately, its overall sales. However, your success will always hinge on well-executed partner marketing programs that provide your valued partners with an arsenal of tools to succeed.