In last week’s article we discussed the importance of brands listening to their channel partners. Evidence abounds that demonstrates that poor communication impacts not only the success of co-op and MDF programs but also the relationships you have with your channel partners. When you’re listening you can start engaging.
The first thing you’ll want to do is to focus their attention to matters at hand, which is done by adding something they will find valuable to the discussion you have with them. The most important part of the conversation goes beyond addressing the need for marketing programs, it answers the “what’s in it for us” and “why should we care” questions they will have. Answer this and you will give them a reason to listen to you. You cannot assume they will see the need just because you tell them it’s there. Show them the value.
For something so fundamental this isn’t happening for brand to channel partnerships. According to Gleanster’s: State of Co-op and MDF:
61% of brand marketers spend a modest amount of time measuring the progress and success of these programs only because they always have run them and because their competitors do too.
65% local marketers believe that co-op and MDF fund programs deliver the same value as other marketing investments they’re making for their businesses.
It’s important to establish that a partnership without goals is often left directionless. Program goals need to be objective and quantifiable. When measured and obtained they can powerfully influence behaviors and activity and help keep your partners on track. Understanding the numbers will help them, and you, with benchmarking, tracking metrics, setting future goals, and associating behaviors with specific actions. Not only will they see if a program is working for them, they will be able to measure how well.
Measure success by the numbers
- Measure program utilization through an automated marketing program with an analytic backbone that will give you and them the data you need. Use that data.
- Make co-marketing funds available to get your partners involved in programs where they can see and measure the progress of their programs in real time. Tools such as call tracking are excellent for small businesses to establish a case for continuing to support these programs, and it gives the brand real-time business intelligence on what messages are performing in the market.
- Help your partners track available co-op and MDF funds available by measuring what channel dollars are spent on and where.
Brand leaders measure channel success through responsive communication, and collaboration
- Showcase success in the channel. Anecdotal evidence received from your partners can be equally as powerful of a motivator as the numbers concerning how well a program is working and how willing your they’re willing to use them.
- Don’t lose touch with your network. Be the hero. A top-down, brand-channel relationship with your partners should be a side-by-side partnership. Avoid the battle of wills where no one wins.
- Create a culture where you welcome and respond to channel feedback. The best insight you can get into your channel will come directly from them. This will bring clarity and context to the numbers you are seeing.
- Align network goals with your channel partner goals
Taking a position of leadership in the channel
- Be the expert. You are your brand’s marketing expert and your partner’s view you as such- even when they view themselves as being the experts in the communities and channels they operate in.
- Save on sanity, automate. One marketing solution doesn’t fit every situation or partner. That said, it doesn’t make sense to provide different programs to satisfy every individual need they have. Providing a local marketing automation platform will provide all the solutions they need in one hub and allows them to best reach their customers.. This will save them on costs, improve efficiency, and their marketing activities are measureable on the same scale.
- Make the co-marketing fund process easy for your partners. Money will only go so far to motivate your channel partners, when those funds are tied up in a cumbersome reimbursement process. The co-pay model will give them the funds they need in real-time, exactly when they need them and eliminates the hassle of submitting claims for reimbursement.
You as the brand overwhelmingly trust that co-op and MDF programs work for them.
Whether or not that is founded upon solid data or a belief that it works does little to motivate your channel in adopt these programs. Show them something more by bringing data to light in a way that is meaningful for them. This will be a powerful force in motivating them to adopt these programs and help them set and achieve goals, while giving them a nice 60,000ft view on the purpose for them.
About the Author
Ben Heyworth formerly served as Marketing and Sales Coordinator at SproutLoud.More Content by Ben Heyworth