Join the dots to quash challenges in the channel
B2B channels offer technology vendors an effective way to broaden their market and delivery footprint. Or so the theory goes.
In reality, trying to achieve consistent, commercially viable demand generation across multiple partners and territories can be like herding cats. The sheer number of variables and touch-points for a typical pan-EMEA campaign is enough to crush even a seasoned B2B channel marketer.
If this sounds familiar, it’s time to seize the nettle and explore new ways to deliver more cohesive channel marketing.
Naturally there are technologies to help with this. Some of them, like the Zift solution framework, are very good. Often referred to as ‘menu-based’ systems, they offer a means to create co-branded multi-touch campaigns incorporating emails, landing pages and social media. But as with any B2B solution, you can’t simply plug it in and expect all your problems to evaporate. It requires skilled management and implementation.
Over the past 12 months, leading players have increasingly been taking a concierge-led approach to operate and facilitate menu-based channel marketing solutions. An effective concierge service will join the dots between vendors, partners, data providers and all other parties. The outcome is better unity, consistency and resilience, helping to generate a healthier pipeline via menu-based systems.
A unique challenge of channel marketing is that it needs to address channel partners themselves as well as the end users. Whether you are marketing through partners (where they manage execution themselves) or with partners (where activity is co-executed), vendors also need to market for them and to them. That might involve generating demand and passing it on for partners to close and deliver, or enabling and encouraging them to market and sell products directly.
Channel concierge services embrace this challenge, opening lines of communication and enhancing transparency. Initially they engage partners and promote the benefits of specific marketing activities. Once partners are on board, they make sure everyone knows what is going on when. Potential stumbling blocks are identified and avoided enabling the entire process to be expertly navigated for the benefit of all parties.
Typical concierge activity for a cross-channel menu-based programme breaks down into four phases:
1. Pre-campaign activity
A blend of webinars and other communications promote the programme, while providing advice and support where needed. Product alignment and campaign planning also take place at this stage.
2. On boarding
Strong foundations for the campaign are laid through liaison with country and channel marketing contacts. Participating partners are issued with welcome packs incorporating a breakdown of the menu-based campaign.
3. In-campaign activity
Once the campaign is underway the concierge is responsible for handholding as well as ongoing management and communications. The objective is to ensure activity is aligned to partners’ own businesses while maintaining integrity from the vendor’s perspective.
4. Ongoing support
Menu-based campaigns are a really effective tool for channel marketing that spans multiple products and languages. But they can appear complex at first. Concierge services provide practical advice on how to use and configure the tool.
Successful demand generation across the channel requires a broad range of marketing skills and multi-country delivery capability. Competence in digital, data and telemarketing is a must. But when it comes to the crunch, it is the orchestration of cross-partner activity that will make or break a campaign. More and more players in the channel are waking up to the fact that campaign management is more than a hygiene factor. In 2015, concierge services could be the new darling of the B2B world.