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This blog was updated on August 3, 2021.

Successful partnerships are the cornerstone of many B2B companies and having an effective channel marketing program is essential for long-term sustainable success. A channel partner program can be used to encourage partners to recommend and sell the company’s products and associated services.

Essentially, it’s a clever way of extending a company’s sales and marketing reach to new audiences through other complementary partners. Growing companies can take particular advantage of channel marketing to rapidly increase market exposure. But channel marketing isn’t easy. It takes a lot of strategizing, planning, and collaborating internally across your partner ecosystem.

Are you trying to expand your B2B organization, or evaluate and improve on your existing channel marketing programs?

Here are a few helpful tips for creating a great channel marketing program that your partners will love:
1. Develop a Partner Profile
2. Market to Your Partners
3. Create Demand For Your Partners
4. Awareness and Promotion
5. Measurement and Evaluation
6. Have an Ongoing Feedback Loop

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1. Develop a Partner Profile

What would the ideal partner look like? Consider factors such as:

  • Location
  • Size
  • Workflow capacity
  • Sales reach
  • Company values and branding

It is helpful to determine what these ideal characteristics are before beginning the recruitment process for exceptional partner candidates.

Once identified and recruited, this partner profile is important to understand the marketing needs and capabilities of your partner ecosystem. This data becomes crucial to make sure you design marketing programs that your partners will actually use and love.

2. Market to Your Partners

Once you have your channel program in place and recruited the ideal partners, next it is time to market your campaigns to your partners. Like marketing to a prospective client, the goal is to convey the usefulness and relevance of your campaigns right away.

Share clear and concise information about what is being offered to your channel partners. To appeal to partners, have a short, attractive presentation prepared that will explain all the necessary information about the campaign. Distributors and retailers are more likely to be interested in distributing clear and concise messaging to customers.

Learn how to establish a marketing strategy that’s scalable and repeatable in our Webinar: How To Create A Marketing And Sales Engine + Keep It Running.

3. Create Demand for Partners

Supplying materials and training, as well as valuable insight and knowledge will allow partners to easily ignite their campaigns. The easier it is for channel partners, the more they will be able to support and empower the products or services that they choose to work with.

Once your campaigns are in place, strategies for building awareness of the program need to be developed. This can be done in a variety of ways including:

  • Local networking
  • Company events
  • Conferences
  • Direct mail collateral
  • Phone or in-person follow-ups
  • Email marketing
  • Partner website portals
  • Hosting webinars.

Other ideas include weekly blogging on topics important to potential channel partners such as social media, eBooks, or surveys.

Positioning your message is critical. Communicate your company’s intentions as a beneficial partnership and lay out the groundwork for their success by supporting the program. Add additional value by having a referral program that supports client referrals by requesting references, testimonials, or online reviews. Reward participation with gifts and thank you’s shared across your social network, blog, email newsletters, and other public outlets.

5. Measurement and Evaluation

Measure your partner program’s success against the initial benchmark goals defined in the planning phase. These metrics may include successful co-marketing initiatives completed, or sales closed from the channel partner program. This data can prove the value of the program and guide future growth and improvements of the initiative.

Channel partner programs are a valuable, strategic way to expand a company’s marketing and sales to reach potential customers. When properly created and nurtured, they can increase inbound lead flow for years to come.

6. Have an Ongoing Feedback Loop

Checking in with partners, making sure they are good, and addressing any issues promptly will allow for a successful, long-term partnership. Integrating your partner’s feedback can improve their campaigns will build history and trust in the relationship. Open and active communication with partners ensures they remain engaged and interested in prioritizing the product or service.

A successful channel marketing program becomes a beneficial partnership for everyone involved. Aligning with the right partners, conveying the advantages of the relationship, and providing marketing support will ensure a positive program. Setting up an efficient channel marketing program can be daunting, particularly from an internal perspective. A professional marketing firm can help make the process a success by reviewing existing programs from a different view. For new programs, outside consulting can assist with avoiding common pitfalls.

This will allow you to gain the knowledge that they can offer when designing and launching a channel marketing program. If you need to kickstart your channel marketing program, reach out to our marketing experts for a free consultation.

Shannon Prager

Shannon Prager

Shannon Prager is a recognized B2B marketing strategist and the President of Leadit Marketing. At Leadit, she is responsible for partnerships, business development and the strategic direction of the company. A marketing leader with 25 years of B2B demand generation and marketing experience, she understands the importance of a fully developed integrated marketing strategy from marketing automation to end-to-end marketing operations. Follow her on LinkedIn (@ShannonPrager) for her take on the latest and greatest in marketing.