The effectiveness of co-marketing campaigns in the IT channel space varies significantly. There are always the success stories which are used time and time again, but the reality is that a large number of campaigns simply miss the mark. There are always reasons as to why, which often include blame being passed to the partner for not following up or to the campaign itself for having poor execution. These variables absolutely exist and often do contribute to a poor outcome.From my first-hand experience being within an IT distributor and seeing a significant number of co-marketing campaigns executed, I think the issue is somewhat bigger than the campaign execution or follow up. To get to the root cause, let’s start with the state of co-marketing campaigns today.
State of IT Channel Co-Marketing Campaigns Today
Co-marketing campaigns in the IT channel fall under three funding models:
- Self-service – Vendor supplies assets for partner to execute
- Co-funded – Vendor and partner split campaign funding
- Funded – Vendor funds campaign on behalf of partner
With self-service campaigns, a set of assets are generally provided through a portal, and the partner leverages them to execute the campaign. For a co-funded campaign, the split percentage is typically pre-set based on partner program guidelines, and an agency implements the agreed upon deliverables. In funded campaigns, a manufacturer often develops the campaign with an agency, and partners are selected to participate.
The general problem with this model is the timeframe often required to execute. Major manufacturers with co-marketing programs operate on a quarterly basis. It’s the nature of the beast being a public company. Immediate ROI and marketing stats are required after campaign completion, especially for funded models. The reality is marketing is not meant to be a silver bullet that overnight drives results (even though we always push for it). True and authentic results take time.
We can quickly look at the type of campaigns being executed for channel partners and see a pattern. Telemarketing has always been prevalent and continues to be a trend even in the digital age we are in. Programmatic buying and social ads have shown success, but they are generally a one-off effort or campaign. Events and webinars have shown better results, but are expensive, and the funding is usually based on a single event.
The problem here is these are individual tactics – just ‘things’ they are doing to hopefully drive an increase in sales. This ultimately leads to some marketing stats at the end of the campaign that can be rolled up as “ROI,” and a sales manager usually asking “so…what actually happened?” Sound familiar?
A Single Tactic Executed in a Short Time Frame is Not Effective Marketing
Partners need to begin pushing for integrated marketing over a specified period longer than a three month quarter. It’s in the partners best interest, and also the manufacturers best interest.
One just needs to look at their personal buying behavior to see this makes sense. When is the last time that you saw a banner, and said “this is great… I’m going to get it.” Or had someone call you in the middle of the day, interrupt YOUR day, and then decided to schedule an hour long onsite meeting to discuss virtualizing your environment. Right…
Integrated marketing can be defined as consistent communication and messaging to a particular niche through multiple channels over a period of time. When you create content that actually helps a very targeted audience with a specific problem, you get their attention. It doesn’t end there, as a well thought out campaign that progresses that individual and puts new content in front of them is needed to effectively drive the desire to speak with someone in sales.
Stop Taking Short Cuts
Dan the IT Director has a need – he’s outgrown his onsite storage and is looking at moving his storage to the cloud.
What is Dan going to do? Let’s start with what he won’t do: wait for someone to call him.
Dan is going to go to Google and explore what his best options are. He’s not going to download a vendor-specific white paper on why their solution is the best.
After consuming content that helped Dan with his decision, he’s going to evaluate what companies can help him with this problem, then leveraging vendor specific content, and ultimately asking to talk to a sales rep.
The problem is everyone wants the quick win – the buyer who is ready to purchase has the budget and intends to talk to someone now. The problem is Dan already has decided who he wants to go with based on his research.
A Push for Integrated Marketing
Manufacturers and partners both need to push for integrated marketing with all of their campaigns. It’s already happening in pockets – but it is not a consistent trend across the board, at least not yet.
This conversation can start with a partner reaching out to a CAM to discuss their marketing objectives for the year or vice-versa. It’s no easy solution as companies will still need to show immediate metrics, but those will still exist with the tactics being executed. What will start that show that wasn’t there before was a true return from actual customers they worked through a marketing funnel over a period of time.
If you’re a partner and are looking to get started right away – download our marketing playbook built specifically for IT channel partners. Included are over 27 unique tips that you can implement for your next integrated marketing campaign.