Creating Successful Marketing Enablement Programs My Successful Channel Program

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1 Creating Successful Marketing Enablement Programs My Successful Channel Program How to use the tools that work! September 2013

2 Contents Drive Effective Partner Marketing: The Key to Successful Channel Programs... 2 What Exactly is Marketing Enablement?... 3 Partner Marketing Automation - a.k.a. Self-Service Partner Marketing Enablement... 3 Campaign Marketplace - a.k.a. Vendor Assisted Partner Marketing Enablement... 4 When You Do It Right Everyone Wins!... 5 Tips for Configuring an Effective Partner Marketing Automation Solution... 6 Tips for Configuring a Successful Campaign Marketplace... 7 Get your Action Plan Together... 9 Page 1

3 Drive Effective Partner Marketing: The Key to Successful Channel Programs Successful channel programs require a whole lot of patience, data, mutual understanding, common mechanics and creativity. Channel program management is to marketing what coaching is to sports; a game won through the actions of others. Have you ever wondered why the partner marketing paradigm you re working in today doesn t seem to be working at all? Maybe you ve tried several approaches to changing your partner program but nothing seems to be producing results. Allocating marketing allowances to your partners can be frustrating when you don t see a clear ROI from your partner s activities. Promotional allowances continue to be the most popular program partners will adopt today. You are probably finding partners lack the marketing expertise to execute the programs you ve freely offered them. Most partners don t have the administrative staff to administer programs, time to get to the right decision makers for approvals or even time to manage a claim. Since the beginning, vendors have longed for channel partners to engage in lead generation activities. You have a lot of money riding on your channel program it has to produce and there can t be any exceptions. This ebook will share overall strategies and specific tactics you can use to enable your partners to acquire leads and close deals. Vendors and partners often struggle to decide who should drive marketing. Even terms like partner led or vendor led marketing can spark vigorous discussion and misunderstanding. We often see heated debates on LinkedIn and Twitter about what partners need versus what partners expect. While some things remain hazy, it s clear there is a growing emphasis on marketing through partners and marketing enablement in 2013 that will continue long past this year. At hawkeye Channel, we see the potential for vendors to generate tremendous lift for their channel programs through marketing enablement. Partners don t have the time, resources or expertise to run effective marketing campaigns, making it necessary vendors to assist them in making that happen. Vendors who focus on enabling their partners will experience: Greater market reach Higher return on their marketing investment Facilitate the one-to-many approach with online tools Highly successful partner marketing campaigns Now, let s dive deeper into marketing enablement, shall we? Page 2

4 What Exactly is Marketing Enablement? Marketing enablement can be considered a methodology of integrated marketing efforts and systems to assure accountability and effectiveness of your Incentive, Rewards or MDF programs. These systems can provide a way for channel partners to easily access and execute programs to increase your revenue while building their own businesses without cumbersome administration. Marketing enablement is not a web page on a partner portal containing marketing and brand assets like logos, images and text that can be downloaded by partners. While this is certainly beneficial, it doesn t provide partners with the tools they need to run successful marketing campaigns. As we stated earlier, partners often lack the marketing expertise, guidance and toolset to develop successful campaigns for your products and services. Many vendors make assets available for partners to download but relying on them to craft those assets into campaigns is like ordering something from your favorite restaurant, and then watching the waiter set the ingredients down in front of you and suggest you cook the meal yourself! In other words, it s not real helpful. Marketing enablement equips partners with the tools, education and resources they need to consistently develop and deploy successful, measurable marketing campaigns that reflect positively on a vendor s brand and maximize sales and ROI. There are two main types of marketing enablement tools available today: 1) marketing automation resources and 2) campaign marketplaces. Partner Marketing Automation - a.k.a. Self-Service Partner Marketing Enablement Marketing automation has been a hot topic the last few years so let s discuss self-service partner marketing automation tools first. These tools enable vendors to translate their national campaigns into local campaigns by making them available to partners and automating the co-branding and ordering process. They generally provide a selection of campaign templates from which the partner can choose and co-brand with their logo, contact information and a specialized offer. After completing the online co-branding process, the partner then uploads a mailing list or chooses one available via the marketing automation tool, and places the order. Behind the scenes, the marketing automation software vendor produces and deploys the campaign and the partner may be required to pre-fund the campaign then submit a claim for reimbursement. Partner marketing automation tools are best suited for larger partners who have the staff, marketing experience and knowledge to utilize the tools to develop and deploy marketing campaigns themselves. They re not as useful for small and medium sized partners lacking the marketing knowledge to identify Page 3

5 the campaigns best suited for their marketing objectives, and who lack the staff to utilize the tools to develop campaigns. A significant limitation of today s partner marketing automation tools is they can only be used for campaigns that can be easily automated, such as and direct mail. They re not as well suited for social media, SEO and other types of complex campaigns that are ongoing or run for a series of months. Campaign Marketplace - a.k.a. Vendor Assisted Partner Marketing Enablement A recent partner survey conducted by Forrester found that 65% of partners list marketing enablement as the number one thing they want from vendors. Partners often have difficulty promoting their brands and generating leads they lack the time, knowledge and capital to run effective marketing campaigns. Vendors can erase these problems by offering promotional allowance programs that give partners access to an entire storefront of pre-made marketing plays: templates, events in a box, whitepapers, website copy, etc. With access to easily branded, simple to implement marketing materials partners can easily launch integrated marketing campaigns that reach their prospects. After all, gaining the attention of prospects will boost the number of deal and increased revenue. A vendor-assisted campaign marketplace consists of vetted 3 rd party agency providers who offer a range of marketing activities and packages that have been pre-approved by the vendor from traditional cobranded collateral and s to more innovative social marketing campaigns. A campaign marketplace, which provides a one-stop shopping experience to maximize partners co-marketing dollars, offers a number of unique benefits: Make it Effective instead of submitting a project and implementing marketing campaigns on their own, partners can rely on proven marketing expertise and pre-packaged campaigns that they select using an experience similar to e-commerce sites they have come to know. Make it Easy partners don t need to pay suppliers, submit claims and wait weeks or months for reimbursement; the vendor pays the supplier directly. A credit card feature can enable partners to extend their purchasing options beyond existing co-marketing funds. Vendors can require the marketplace marketing suppliers to provide the essential POP paperwork and documentation, cutting partners work in half. Make it Accountable partners no longer need to track, measure or report on the ROI of marketing campaigns. Vendors can stock the marketplace with suppliers who offer integrated, closed-loop campaigns and provide feedback to vendors and their partners with regard to leads, opportunities and ROI. A vendor-assisted marketplace is best suited for small to medium partners who lack the marketing experience and expertise to choose the right campaign for their situation, and the resources to develop Page 4

6 and execute a campaign on their own. But, since it s designed to support all types of campaigns from e- mail to SEO and social media, large and medium partners can benefit from it as well. One size does not fit all! Unfortunately, companies often use a one size fits all approach to marketing enablement by only offering a self-service marketing automation solution to their partners. As a result, they experience much lower usage of their tool than anticipated. Self-service marketing automation solutions can be very effective for large, marketing savvy partners, but only address the needs of partners who have the insight and experience to design and manage a program on their own. With a blend of both of these resources, all partners will have the tools to help them meet their objectives and produce successful marketing campaigns. In fact, in a recent study, 41% of vendors revealed their partners had insufficient sales and marketing ability to utilize MDF dollars to roll out campaigns, even with the use of an automation solution. Our own experience at hawkeye Channel, managing both solutions simultaneously for Fortune 100 clients bears this out, with two-thirds of the vendor s partners preferring to use a vendor-assisted marketplace instead of a traditional self-service marketing automation solution. When You Do It Right Everyone Wins! The big deal about marketing plays. Master agency drives execution and maintains efficiencies taking the burden off of partners who may not have the skills necessary to execute well. Using best practices with integrated campaigns and new media expands the breadth and depth of your campaigns to increase market exposure over 30%. Vendors can pre-approve campaigns with appropriate messaging, calls to action, media and offer pre-approved campaigns aligned to your initiatives to improve marketing effectiveness. Closed-loop campaigns help both vendors and partners adjust marketing activities to maximize return on investment. Your ROI can be tracked by the agency where the outcomes directly align with your marketing initiatives making your ROI tracking and reporting easy and reliable. Partners get the support they need to understand and select the best marketing campaigns for their business and customers so partners feel more in control of their business outcomes. Page 5

7 Best in class Through-Partner Marketing leverages pre-packaged marketing campaigns. These can be managed by a Master Agency if you don t have the resources internally. By having an agency that specialize in more innovative packages like social marketing, ebooks and ghost blogging, for example, you can help move partners into new areas of marketing. New Media Social Media campaigns, SEO/SEM, ghost blogging Traditional Media direct mail, , collateral Integrated campaigns include call center agent follow-up for partners to close more business In addition, marketplaces like Amazon.com and ebay are an experience with which almost all users are accustom. If you build your marketplace the right way, with the experience partners are comfortable with, it will achieve greatness! Marketplaces provide the following advantages for the user: Choice materials and options that align with their business plan Comparison based on past performance, supplier and activity ratings Aggregation single order across multiple suppliers Ease of use one shopping experience Tips for Configuring an Effective Partner Marketing Automation Solution Marketing automation solutions are designed to take the complexity and guess work out of marketing, making it simple for partners to design and deploy successful marketing campaigns, and enabling vendors to extend the reach of their marketing efforts. While most solutions achieve this objective, configuring them isn t a slam dunk. Here are some best practices you should strongly consider: Give partner input. Allow your partners the flexibility over things impacting their own business. Everything from timing, what kinds of offers they can chose from, value-added messaging and established processes encompassing best-practices to set them, and you, up for success. Remember simplicity. Easy-to-use consumer websites like Amazon.com and ebay have spoiled us. Today we have very high expectations for all of our online experiences, and channel partners are no exception. Your marketing automation solution must mimic the intuitive shopping experiences to which your channel partners have grown accustomed, and it must incorporate features like wish lists, reviews, ratings and chat support. Remember your partners are Page 6

8 participating in 5-10 different partner programs and they re going sell the products of vendors who make it easy for them to generate demand and close sales so it s vital to make their lives easier. Offer list rental services. The purpose of MDF dollars is to enable the partner to generate demand in new or lucrative markets. If the partner s only option is to send an campaign to their own customer list, the MDF funds will not be spent as intended, nor will they enable you and your partners to develop new markets and increased sales. Be sure to provide your partners with the ability to select and purchase outside lists using their MDF dollars so they can truly penetrate new markets for you. Facilitate execution. Marketing automation doesn t end when the partner finishes customizing the campaign with his/her logo, contact information and offer. While this is certainly the stopping point for the partner, the hard work is only beginning for you. Your marketing automation supplier should not only provide the software solution, but should also offer production and fulfillment services making it completely turnkey for partners, so they can focus on selling to the leads the campaign generates. Provide closed-loop reporting. The old saying goes, you can t manage what you can t measure, and this certainly rings true in the channel. Any campaign deployed via your marketing automation solution must track established metrics and a means of capturing results. This will not only enable you to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of your campaigns and marketing automation tool, but if you share these results with your partners, they ll have a much greater appreciation for the tool and the significant value and benefit it provides them. Tips for Configuring a Successful Campaign Marketplace While the concept of a campaign marketplace brimming with marketing campaigns sounds simple enough, there are a lot of moving parts, and execution can become complex and time consuming. Many of the recommendations shared above apply here as well, so we ll focus on four additional best practices important when developing an online supplier marketplace. Offer the right suppliers and campaigns. Talk to your partners to discover which marketing materials and campaigns will help them the most. Would they benefit from , social media support or SEO? An online supplier marketplace doesn t do much good if the resources offered aren t what partners need. You will experience greater utilization by packing your storefront with high quality suppliers and campaigns that will help your partners exceed their marketing objectives. Page 7

9 Have we mentioned easy? Make it easy to order and easy to succeed. Partner experience is critical in determining future use of the marketplace. Partners often still have to deal with multiple sign-ons and cumbersome interfaces when utilizing vendor programs, so there is ample opportunity to set your program apart with fluid, intuitive functionality. A clean, consistent and visually appealing UI with logical menu structure go a long way to ensure partners utilize the materials available to them. Making your marketplace easy to use will encourage partners to take advantage of the amazing resources you provide Offer downloadable assets as well. A supplier marketplace allows you to be a supplier and provide downloadable assets like data sheets, whitepapers and success stories. By offering these materials via the marketplace, you can provide your partners with a single source for all your marketing materials and campaigns, eliminating confusion and simplifying the means of accessing your wealth of marketing enablement assets. Provide a consumer-like experience. In this day and age everyone expects a consumer-like experience for every online application. This desire is no longer exclusive to the online shopping and other activities we engage in during our free time we now want the same experience at work. Easy navigation, point and click controls and visually appealing interfaces are commonplace on sites like Amazon.com, so why shouldn t partners be able to shop the storefront of marketing resources the same way? Regardless of which marketing enablement solution you deploy, strongly consider a marketing concierge. As we ve discussed, the typical reseller is owned and operated by a busy entrepreneur with an IT and/or sales background and little or no knowledge of marketing. To address this knowledge deficit, you should consider providing a click-to-chat service staffed by marketing experts. Support can include advice on how to use co-marketing funds effectively, as well as selecting appropriate activities for a campaign based on that partner s specific business model and marketing goals. This kind of concierge service has three clear benefits for partners: Best value partners obtain the greatest value from their co-marketing funds by directing them toward the most valuable campaigns for their objectives. Campaign integration partners receive marketing assistance whenever they need it throughout the year to consistently drive leads and awareness. Innovation partners are able to combine traditional and non-traditional campaigns to create an integrated approach that will deliver the most value from each marketing vehicle. And since access to a marketing concierge will help partners generate more effective campaigns, your company will benefit greatly as well. Page 8

10 Get your Action Plan Together Expect to see even more emphasis on marketing through partners in Investing in marketing enablement and Through-Partner Marketing will help you: Audit existing marketing resources for partners Assess what can be automated and what can be pre-packaged Provide partners marketing advice based on market segments, geo, vertical could be from field or centralized via a concierge service Offer full-service, closed-loop, pre-packaged campaigns from multiple vendors and for multiple offerings us. We re here to help. The more a partner is invested in the early stages of the customer technology adoption life cycle, the more likely that partner is going to nurture their leads and convert them into paying customers. But the reality is marketing is rarely a strength for partners. Clearly, partners marketing efforts could benefit from an infusion of marketing skills and resources and channel marketers can fill that gap with marketing enablement. The result will be a more effective channel or MDF program and successful marketing campaigns from partners, which lower cost of sales, and drive greater revenue and profitability for both you and your partners. If you found this information helpful, but have additional questions, or just want to bounce some ideas off us, we re here to help. Feel free to contact us at Page 9

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