With a little more than four months left in 2021, it’s a perfect time to tap the brakes, come up for air and identify some of the areas channel marketers should embrace and apply for the rest of the year and beyond. If 2021 has taught us anything, it’s the resilience of brands and the importance for them to continually strengthen the relationship with their channel partners. That’s why solutions that fulfill partner needs and budgets, while satisfying the unique conditions of a partner’s local market, are so important if brands are going to successfully deliver against their defined outcomes.
To help ensure successful outcomes for the rest of this year and catapult a brand’s channel program into 2022, there are four areas of emphasis to consider: customer obsession, service orientation, automation and scale, and a seamless customer experience.
Obsession for Channel Partner Success
As we continue to struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic, channel partners are becoming more and more focused on their customers and the experience they have with a particular brand’s products or services. For channel partners, the combination of executing tactically with precision and scrutinizing costs along the way is leading to a greater emphasis on return on investment (ROI). The corresponding challenge for brands is to understand their channel partners’ priorities and ensure alignment with their own business objectives and ROI metrics.
As brands work to understand the priorities of their channel partners, it’s important to acknowledge and address that not all channel partners are the same. To that end, ensuring a brand’s channel program allows for segmentation and corresponding personalization of program elements will help drive desired outcomes, including ROI.
Shift to Service Orientation
Dell Technologies recently launched an ad campaign promoting their Technology-as-a-Service focus. This is another example of the rampant shift to offer Everything-as-a-Service. It’s no different for brands and the relationship with their channel partners. However, Everything-as-a-Service is just part of a full-service channel program offering. Yes, brands must deploy an ecosystem of channel program technologies, but a critical part of that ecosystem is a corresponding and integrated service and expertise offering.
By offering an ecosystem of technologies, support services and marketing expertise, brands can provide their channel partners with greater flexibility in terms of program capabilities. This allows brands to move beyond the table stakes of their channel program offering and focus on providing their partners with more business and marketing consulting services. These value-added services should include marketing expertise to address channel partners’ increasing demand for enablement, personalization and recommendation tools.
Managing Complexity at Scale with Automation
The environment channel partners are selling in today continues to be dynamic and ever changing. As a result, it’s critical for brands to increase agility and flexibility in terms of how they support the sale of their products and services. Couple the necessity to adapt to changing business needs and delivery of product vision and value, along with the demand for segmented and tiered channel marketing programs, brands are facing the daunting task of offering highly complex and customized tier-based programs.
Managing this level of complexity at scale requires brands to offer automated technologies and services that are tailored based on the size, business potential, value, level of engagement and interest level of their channel partners. Ensuring a channel marketing program has the necessary level of flexibility and personalization is critical for brands and their channel partners to achieve their desired outcomes.
Regardless of segmentation, the expectation of channel partners for these types of personalized solutions and services is that they will be easy, predictable and worth their time and effort. Brands can meet these expectations by providing more robust integrations, data management services and tracking that allows their channel partners to easily see and report how program optimization is improving their ROI.
Delivering a Seamless Customer Experience
Much like technologies and platforms being delivered as a service has become the norm, delivering a seamless customer experience is the nirvana all brands are seeking to deliver. That is certainly the case for brands and their channel partner “customers” as well. By streamlining and aligning channel marketing programs with a brand’s direct sales and marketing efforts, channel marketing leaders can take their outcomes to the next level.
That said, delivering that seamless customer experience is no easy task. It’s critical for a brand’s channel strategy to be built around customer-centric buyer journeys supported by a corresponding ecosystem of technologies and capabilities. Aligning and streamlining these buyer journeys helps remove the inherent friction that exists across channel programs. Integrating a brand’s channel marketing platform with broader platforms and funding programs allows a brand to streamline and automate their channel program at a higher level, providing more upstream visibility within the brand’s organization as well as downstream visibility into funding and investments by channel partners and other stakeholders, such as marketing and sales.
This holistic approach to providing a seamless customer experience provides brands with the ability to offer deeper insights and feedback that inform the customer experience moving forward. More specifically, these insights are used to effectively inform program decisions and drive the definition of desired outcomes, such as channel partner adoption and engagement, utilization and ROI, for example.
As 2021 heads to the home stretch and plans start taking shape for 2022, now is the time for brands to ensure their channel marketing programs continue to evolve and embrace the ever-changing marketplace where their products and services are sold. It’s critical for brands to embrace the need to segment their channel partners and provide them with corresponding tailored services and marketing expertise, ensure programs can easily scale and be optimized, and strive to provide a seamless customer experience. The outcome? A more robust channel marketing program that’s ready to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow, while delivering desired results.
About Channel Fusion
For nearly 20 years, Channel Fusion has provided brands and their channel partners with a wide variety of solutions and industry expertise. We continue to invest in the overall ecosystem of our channel marketing offering to ensure our clients provide their partners with an optimal customer experience. Our core technologies and configurable platforms are supported by a team of customer-centric “Fusers.” Let us know if you’d like to learn more about how we deliver desired outcomes for brands and their channel partners.