“What’s happening to channel marketing? Where’s my ROI?”
If you’re in business-to-business marketing today, chances are you’ve heard these statements, or thought them. That’s because there’s been a big shift in how customers prepare to buy.
Put simply, Consumerization has arrived. Over the last few years in retail and B2C markets, you’ve heard some producers bemoan the popularity of mobile internet, comparison sites and online shopping, and how they’ve changed their markets. Customers have the power to choose from a wider range of products and services, and are more than happy to shop around.
This scenario is becoming increasingly common for B2B. Already-smart buyers are increasingly well informed and brand agnostic. They have the power to buy, or not, and they aren’t afraid to let you know it.
As Laz Gonzalez, Service Director for Channel Management Strategies at SiriusDecisions, a b-to-b sales and marketing research and advisory firm, puts it in this blog post: “Channel marketers are being squeezed between the proverbial rock and a hard place.”
Suppliers can no longer rely on a pure push-or-pull demand generation scenario—their channel programs need something more.
They need service.
These days, buyers are inundated with sales material. They have a lot of choice—in some cases too much choice—and don’t appreciate constant cold-calls and product announcements.
They need personalization.
These buyers want someone to process their needs and deliver a range of solutions. They want someone to make the buying experience simple again, someone who can act as a professional guide or concierge.
They don’t want you, not personally. As a supplier, you’re too close to the product. They don’t feel you bring the same value to the process—what I call Real Estate Agent Syndrome.
A real estate agent can tell you all the wonderful facts about a property, the history, the prices, the features. They can wax poetic about how you’ll feel having breakfast at the counter, or hosting weekend lunches on the patio. Real estate agents give reasons to buy.
But these services differ from a true concierge. A concierge takes all the information—the requirements, budget and future needs, as well as the available solution—processes it, and gives actionable recommendations. They make choices simpler.
For modern B2B channel marketing, this means your channel program customers needs someone who’s invested in your solutions and can dedicate their time to resolving customer issues. Then you need to give them the power, capacity and drive to do so.
You need to enable you channel partners.
But how? How do you do this? How do you get your channel partners in a position to act as your value-adding-expert-concierge-specialist-guy?
In this article: “Six Steps to Higher Adoption and Performance in Channel Marketing”, Elastic Digital and Sirius Decisions show how suppliers can triple channel partner marketing engagement.
I’ll be covering these six steps on the blog over the next few weeks. If you want to find out what these steps mean for modern suppliers, and how to implement them with solid ROI in mind, be sure to subscribe to our feed.
Or, you can always just download the article here.