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Why IT Channel marketing managers should play the long game

I don’t know if you experience this in your organisation, or with partners you’re working with, but from conversations I have, especially from a marketing point of view, many vendors and resellers make the same mistake over and over. Every quarter in fact.

The problem with the channel is that we’re driven by an all-consuming quarterly focus. It’s good to stay focused and it’s good to make sure that you’re delivering sales now, not in six months’ time at the end of an intangible pipeline. But this myopia is causing more problems than it solves.

First, there’s the rush to get all the marketing plans in. If you’re a vendor, each quarter you’re probably asking partners from distribution and reseller-land alike to submit their plans. Then you have to go through a complex internal process, ensuring that these plans align to your business goals, the current strategic focus and whichever ROI metrics you need to hit this month (sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone...I hear this a LOT). By the time you’ve done that and gone back to the partners, and they’re in a position to start to deliver some of the planned activity, you’re already at least halfway through the quarter. If you’re lucky you may start to see some results trickle through. But then it’s the end of the quarter and a case of ‘all change!’

The huge, enormous and frustrating problem with this is not even that it wastes vast amounts of time and resources in your and your partners’ businesses; it’s that regardless of the marketing initiative or activity proposed, you never even get to find out if it works because it hasn’t had a chance to even get going! No wonder everyone in the channel moans about lack of ROI – virtually no campaign ever gets the opportunity to run long enough to get to the other end of the sales process.

Don’t let your business continue to waste time and effort over and over again. To (badly) paraphrase Franklin, he said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. There is a better way. It’s not even that complicated. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel every three months, work out exactly who you need to be talking to, make a plan, engage with your customers and prospects in a way that addresses their needs and keep doing it – in an interesting and worthwhile way and via the channel they choose to communicate in.

This time of year is great to reflect on what your goals are for next year and how you can achieve them in a better, more efficient way. Goals that will actually deliver the results that both you and your partners need to grow your business together. It’s time to reflect, plan, and play the long game.