For the next two posts, I’d like to focus in on a business-to-business (B2B) marketing strategy: channel marketing. If you produce a good that needs to be distributed by someone other than you, then you’re well aware of the challenges that come along with promoting your product to other businesses in order to reach potential consumers. The channels you utilize to get your product out there play an essential role in your success, so unless you’re headed to Shark Tank with an air-tight pitch, you must have an effective B2B marketing strategy. Enter channel marketing.
Maybe your channel partnerships are humming along without much ado. Maybe you’re just getting started. In either case, let’s improve. In order to up your channel marketing game, the most important consideration is staying top of mind. Your channel reps and partners have plenty to think about, including other suppliers, customers, and their own performance. Engaging with your channel reps frequently is crucial–and the ways you reach out need not be burdensome, time- or money-wise.
Engaging Your Channel: An Infographic
Let’s dig into this infographic by breaking it down into actionable items. This week, we’ll start with two opposing categories, and we’ll remember that any effective marketing strategy is all about balance.
1: Conquer the Digital Divide
A strong digital presence helps you stay top of mind with on-the-go channel reps. The infographic offers ideas aplenty for keeping up with your channels via email and social media:
#2: A weekly “Tips for Selling…” email gives you the chance to remind your reps of your brand and demonstrate some expertise in the process. The more information you can provide your reps with, the better equipped they are to market your goods for you. Make their job a little easier with this quick and easy approach to staying top of mind.
#10: Another option for demonstrating your expertise (as discussed in last week’s post) is to include a list of best practices in your weekly email. There is enough digital noise out there–your emails should do the work of setting you apart. You curate your content carefully so that your audience feels like you’re adding value to their lives, right? The same must apply when you’re engaging your channel. Provide them with thoughtful and research-based best practices that they can incorporate into their daily work, and stay on their minds as a helpful and savvy brand.
#14: The hashtag. Make your channel reps’ lives easier by creating a unique and memorable hashtag that they can display in retail spaces, use digitally when referencing your brand (hopefully giving you a h/t while tweeting a link to the awesome article you shared in your weekly email best practices list), and provide to customers as a way to track and review what others are saying about your brand.
2: Face Time… The Old Fashioned Way
We all know that there is no substitute for face-to-face communication. It is much easier to write off an email, text, webinar, or video call than it is to cancel an in-person meet. If you want to stay top of mind with your channel, create meaningful face-to-face opportunities.
#16: Caffeine. It’s magic. But even if you’re not into availing yourself of its magical powers, make a date to chat with a channel rep. (Order an herbal tea. Whatever.) Meeting over coffee is only a small commitment for you and your rep, but it facilitates a closer professional relationship. It also presents you with an opportunity to ask your rep for their insights and ideas. Do not underestimate the power of being heard. Taking the time to hear your rep’s thoughts is a wonderful way to remind them of why they started working with you in the first place. It will also keep you at the top of their mind moving forward.
#26: Having the president of your company visit your channel partner’s location is really more about them than it is about the president. Yes, it will be impressive that your company’s president has taken this time out of their busy schedule. Yes, it will be notable that he or she perhaps traveled a distance to make it happen. But it’s really about the fact that your channel partner will have the opportunity to see your business ethos at work. They can put a face to the narrative they sell–they can see that it’s not just a narrative at all. This is the kind of experience that sticks with a channel rep or partner as they represent your brand.
#39: A customer experience day lets your reps step into your customers’ shoes. Create an inviting event that allows them to experience your product in the way your customers would. Then, ask for feedback on their findings. This accomplishes more than just better acquainting your reps with your products. It offers the opportunity for them to note the potential challenges or issues a customer might face, and bring these issues to you directly. Then, you have a chance to address these in a way which arms your reps with knowledge and insight they simply would not have had before (and probably do not have about other products).
Next week, we’ll look at ideas from the infographic for engaging your channel in ways that educate, inform, recognize, and celebrate.