Although a crude method for determining the size of an industry, when we search for channel marketing in the jobs section of LinkedIn, we get 4000+ results within the UK as opposed to the 3200+ results for channel sales. In previous positions I’ve held, there have always been less marketers in the team than there has been sales people, so why such a high demand now?

Firstly, we need to understand the role of the channel marketer and where they fit into the grand scheme of things.

Previously, the channel marketing manager would be involved in MDF (marketing development funds) calculations and running the return on investments of campaigns run by partners and distributors in the channel. Nowadays it’s becoming a whole lot more complex due to the differing partner types, different campaign styles and the analytics behind the marketing.

With the transition away from in person events to a more online focused environment for conducting campaigns within the channel, the vendors, distributors and resellers now have the visibility that they need in the form of analytics to see which campaigns and assets are performing the best.

More emphasis is being put onto inbound marketing in the channel than ever before where leads can be generated across any number of tiers within the channel. Whether it’s an end user lead that’s generated by the reseller themselves or a campaign that is run by the vendor to generate leads that are going to be passed through the channel, it’s never been more complex.

What are the different approaches to marketing that are used in the channel?

There are 4 distinct marketing methods that are used in the channel when it comes to the digital side of things. They are:

  • Through partner marketing
  • For partner marketing
  • With partner marketing
  • To partner marketing

The most scalable is the first one on the list, through partner marketing, which allows the partner to use assets provided by the vendor and have no content creation requirements from their side. Content is pushed through the partner into their network and consumed by people that the vendor wouldn’t normally have reach into. The assets can be co-branded or left in the original form but the idea is to create awareness for both the partner and the vendor. Advanced systems allow for the lead capture on through marketing assets where the partner will collect leads for any campaign that is being run in conjunction with the vendor.

For partner marketing is time consuming and is not advised. The vendor needs to create assets on behalf of the partner, which if they are working with 100’s of partners and not a scalable exercise at all.

With partner marketing is the process of developing assets in unison with each other. The vendor and distributor / partner come up with a content plan to capture a specific market and use those assets for entering the market in question. With partner marketing is useful when you have regions that are totally outside of the scope of what you produce as a vendor. I’ve worked with some partners that are very good at creating content in unison with the vendor for their markets, specifically in Eastern Europe, Russia and the Far East.

To partner marketing is the process of producing content that is focused towards partner recruitment. Vendors and distributors use this type of content to onboard new partners that are interested in selling the products of the vendor. This type of marketing differs from the rest as it is not designed to generate end user leads, but instead, interest from partners.

All of these types of marketing methods needs to be overlooked by the channel marketing manager and thus is becomes difficult for one person to handle this if the vendor is working on a global scale.

How do vendors, distributors and resellers manage their campaigns?

In the not so distant past, assets used to be sent to partners and distributors to be edited manually and distributed manually outside of any tool which created a problem when tracking assets.

In came the marketing automation tools to allow all tiers to use the assets. Again, these systems were not connected to each other and there was no tracking above a specific tier of the channel to say which asset was performing and which wasn’t.

Hubspot, Marketo, Mailchimp… they were all being used by different layers of the channel to push out the material. The reseller could track open rates for their own campaigns but how did the vendor know what was working and what wasn’t? The answer is, they didn’t. The only way they could benchmark a campaign was through the leads that came in from it that were manually submitted by the reseller / distributor.

Because the channel is effectively a hierarchy, there needs to be complete visibility from the layers above on the utilisation of assets and campaigns.

Having a single place to manage all campaigns and assets cuts the workload down of the channel marketing manager by giving them instant data on which assets work and which don’t for specific regions.

The issue of having to choose!

Another issue with traditional channel marketing is the overwhelming choice of which asset to use and how to use them. Vendors make assets available in a portal for the reseller / distributor to download and use themselves but the problem with this is the reseller knowing what to do with that asset and how to use it.

Keeping things simple is the key to making the partners life easy and the vendor channel marketing manager.

A channel marketing manager can have a whole arsenal of marketing collateral that is accessible by the partner but how does the partner know what to do with those assets?

Giving a partner 1000’s of pieces of collateral to choose from is overwhelming and runs the risk of nothing being used at all.

Imagine a world where the channel marketing manager can setup a campaign once and the partner just needs to activate the campaign in their portal. This creates simplicity and removes the need for the partner to have any marketing knowledge at all.

Tools like Channelyze allow a single platform for all tiers of the channel to capitalise on assets and campaigns that are setup by the channel marketing manager.

For a demo on how can improve your marketing processes, visit and register for a demo.

One thought on “The mysterious art of channel marketing

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