Brands have traditionally viewed their channel partners as a distributed sales component in bringing their products and services to a wider market, whether they be agents, brokers, distributors, franchisees, reps, or resellers. While traditionally this level of collaboration has been useful and profitable for distributed organizations, it has serious limitations and inefficiencies which prevent the partnership from ever reaching its potential. Here’s a few of them:
- The marketing voice (and wisdom) of your channel that you can influence, remains largely unaccounted for. Your channel partners (and often there are thousands of them) are operating in the front lines, both engaging and opening up sales discussions with your customers. They often have unique insights which will help you market your product more effectively, especially in the areas they operate in. By leveraging their experience and exposure to your customers they could become powerful marketers and ambassadors for your brand.
- Inconsistent messaging and brand experience. Without active leadership and direction, your network may go out on their own. This may quickly lead to situations which force the brand to react and intervene in order to save the sale, “clear the air”, and protect its name and reputation. This remains a threat to brands and puts them in a reactive position.
- Weak partner enablement. Distributed organizations have struggled with taking a proactive position when providing marketing support to the channel. This has been a speed limiting factor for onboarding new network partners, scaling revenue generation efforts, and earning brand loyalty.
Born of necessity, Through Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA) programs have evolved to tackle the deficiencies inherent in traditional partner programs. According to Forrester Research TCMA programs are defined as: “A distributed marketing system used by enterprise marketers to enable and scale local marketing program execution through channel partners (stores, agents, dealers. franchisees, distributors, and resellers) with governance to protect brand integrity.” (The Forrester Wave™: Through-Channel Marketing Automation Platforms, Q3 2015, Forrester Research, Inc., August 4, 2015).
Here’s a breakdown of the key terms and phrases:
Distributed marketing: Distributed marketing, through-channel marketing and partner marketing all mean the same thing: working through local outlets to sell a product or service.
Enterprise marketer: If you’re a brand-level marketer, then you’re an enterprise marketer.
Enable and scale: You’re making local marketing available for your entire partner network in just a few steps.
Governance to protect brand integrity: You want your partners to take some liberties in marketing on your behalf, but you have to keep your brand untarnished. With a TCMA platform, you can protect your brand while enabling your partners to reach local customers.
TCMA extends the capabilities of distributed organizations to govern through:
- Syndication. Through syndication brands can create marketing content (website, e-mail, and social media) and distribute through their partner networks. This increases the speed in which these materials are available to the channel for them to disseminate out.
- Federalism. TCMA, allows power to be divided amongst two separate bodies: a national body and through regional bodies. The division of power enables brands to create and manage digital assets and marketing campaigns on a national level, and for channel partners to select and deploy the tactics used in those campaigns regionally.
- Latitudinal discretion. TCMA, enables brands to offer their channel partners latitude, by offering customizable solutions that uniquely suits their business preferences, strengths and capabilities. One solution is not suitable for all. Even though the brand provides the material, resources, and assets that are used, it also provisions for brand moderated channel control and customization of marketing elements such as co-branded logos, value propositions, and pictures used in traditional and digital communications. With latitudinal discretion the brand is able to remain compliant by asserting a degree of control over what can and can’t be changed, so your brand’s integrity and customer experience remain intact.
Benefits of a TCMA platform include:
- Provides a local marketing hub for your local partners. A TCMA platform ties traditional and digital co-branded programs and tactics together in one place. Additionally it puts all available marketing assets within easy reach.
- Eliminates costly single point solutions. Connecting single point solutions is costly and doesn’t work when they’re designed to work independently. TCMA platforms are designed to create one solution which ties everything together for the partner.
- Scalability and efficiency. A TCMA platform will grow with your partner network. Add the modules your partners need when they need them.
- Real-time co-op and MDF distribution. A TCMA platform utilizes a co-pay model, eliminating the waiting period for partners using older reimbursement programs. Your partners view the reimbursement process as cumbersome and will be more likely to participate in these programs when this impediment is removed.
- Measure marketing performance with real-time metrics. No one likes wasting money on local marketing programs that fail to perform. TCMA reporting happens in real-time so you can track program performance and determine whether the investment there is worthwhile.
TCMA provides every level of the channel with marketing efficiencies not found elsewhere saving your brand time, money, and sanity along the way. Whether you’re considering a TCMA platform or still have burning questions -- we want to talk to you. Contact us!
About the Author
Gary Ritkes, President of SproutLoud, oversees all Business Development and Marketing for the company. Gary, a pioneer in the emerging vertical of Distributed Marketing Technology, is an industry leader and innovator with 20+ years experience in graphic communications and marketing strategy. Gary has been involved with SproutLoud since the inception of the company. Prior to joining SproutLoud, Gary was VP of Marketing for Rex Three, Inc., SproutLoud’s first and largest vendor among its network of providers. He has served many Fortune 1000 clients and worldwide advertising agencies in providing marketing technology direction and optimization. He was an original founder of U.S. based Earth Color Group and co-founder of Advanced Digital Services (ADS), which was sold in 1996 to publicly traded Katz Digital Technologies. He has served as a board member of the local chapter of the American Advertising Federation chapter and other national industry associations, including the DMA and AGA.More Content by Gary Ritkes