As we head into a new year with a full plate of new goals and objectives to accomplish in 2016, we as channel marketers need to evaluate how those goals will impact the bottom line. We’ll look at what worked last year and what didn’t, and ask ourselves “what are we going to do that’s different this year?” The channel can be very fruitful and full of opportunities for marketers. However, it can also be a huge pitfall if marketers aren’t managing channel marketing programs effectively.
When you boil it all down, there are several key challenges marketers should understand when evaluating the risks and rewards of a channel marketing program. Here are some of the common hurdles marketers face, specifically relating to channel dynamics and how mutual confidence and collaboration can help overcome them. Oftentimes, we’re pulled in a million different directions while constantly trying to align best practices with reality.
RISKS AND REWARDS OF CHANNEL MARKETING
Business Requirements – Companies are constantly evolving and innovating their solutions and go-to-market strategies, and they need solid support from the channel. Every quarter is different and budgets may even vary from quarter to quarter, which makes it tough to plan, secure funding and allocate resources. You may also be confined by industry-specific requirements or even fluctuating commodity markets. No matter the constraints, you’ll always need to show a growing pipeline and leads. And, of course, at the end of the day an increase in revenue to not only justify your existence, but also to show positive momentum and obtain additional marketing funding in the future.
Customer Loyalty – This is an issue all companies face, and as marketers you’re in the customer dating game. You want your customers to see you as a single point of contact for integrated solutions. However, they may be in the market for a product, sales and marketing support, or maybe shopping around based on price/margins. Heck, they could be looking for some quick training and education to sell a competitive solution. As with dating, keeping your customers loyal involves an investment in the relationship. That investment may come in providing education, hosting an event or creating valuable content to share with customers. In fact, Google is increasingly rewarding content creators who understand the meaning of valuable content. The content you need depends on your industry and your targeted personas (AKA the humans who are reading your content, not the spiders crawling it).
Tight Timelines & Quarterly Constraints – It’s tough to keep it all straight, let alone plan, use funding and show proof of performance and ROI. Not to mention that occasionally you’re waiting on decisions and approvals within your organization. Sometimes when the trigger is finally pulled, it has to be done yesterday and definitely before end of quarter. Just goes to show that no matter how well you plan, life happens and you make the best of it. You have quarterly revenue goals to meet and you’re in the hot seat. You’ve got to show you’re promoting the latest and greatest, generating pipeline and delivering leads, all before the end of the quarter and with limited funding. You need to make every marketing effort count. #TheStruggleIsReal and you are not alone. According to the Content Marketing Institute, only 21 percent of B2B marketers are successful at tracking ROI and 36 percent of B2B marketers will begin working on measuring content ROI initiative within next 12 months.
Data Everywhere – You have access to all of these amazing technologies that are supposed to make life easier right? Each one does and each one has a valuable purpose. However, no matter what client partner you work with, there always seems to be a need for a manual process because not all systems talk to each other. Alone, all of this data is useless because it has to be digested and turned into usable information that’s not collecting dust on a server. Even with all the data out there, 62 percent of business decision makers say they trust their gut when making a purchasing decision. This shows that even in B2B and channel marketing, you need to make an emotional connection with your audience as well.
Constant Innovation & Change – Companies are constantly coming out with new product lines and solutions, or acquiring other companies who are. According to Dealogic, companies around the world spent a record $5.03 trillion on acquisitions in 2015. Corporate giants are merging, mobility has exploded and social media is allowing customers to define your brand. B2B marketing is rapidly changing. The Content Marketing Institute reports that a typical B2B marketer now uses an average of 13 content marketing tactics. That’s certainly more than just a standard sell sheet. And it all requires integrated efforts and a documented content strategy to keep it straight and help ensure the success of distributing that content.
Your marketing strategies have to provide a consistent and meaningful user experience across all customer touch-points in the sales process. Regardless of the medium or channel, the messaging has to be cohesive, progressive, benefit-oriented and ultimately provide value to customers and prospects. That’s how you’ll ultimately weigh the potential risks and potential rewards of you efforts.
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