Why everyone’s a winner with (good) channel marketing.

Written By Beth Lucas

A channel can be any pathway through which goods flow from producers to consumers – including affiliate partners, distributors, resellers, and value-added resellers. Using channels lets vendors focus on perfecting their product, while others do the selling and make their own profit margin in the process.

It’s common for products to be sold through channel partners instead of direct from manufacturers. Microsoft are a good example of a vendor with access to a huge range of channels. Lots of us will own or use a Microsoft product, but we probably didn’t buy it direct from Microsoft.

In a nutshell, channel marketing involves businesses maximising the potential of their channels. B2B marketing agencies can add value for both vendors and their channel partners – it’s all about facilitating a mutually beneficial relationship. To do this effectively, it’s important to understand the needs of both vendors and channel partners.

How do vendors benefit from channel marketing?

Channel marketing presents some challenges for vendors. For example, it’s not always easy to lose influence over your own product sales. When done correctly though, channel marketing can be highly lucrative and cost-effective for vendors. They may choose to work with channel partners instead of hiring and managing a large internal sales team, or they could use a hybrid approach.

The best channel partners don’t just boost vendors’ sales – they also drive awareness, consideration and demand for a vendor’s products. Working with a well-known channel partner can give vendors instant credibility and brand recognition. Vendors can also take advantage of a variety complimentary value-add products and services that their partners offer.

From a vendor perspective, a key aspect of channel marketing is finding a partner who provides penetration into new markets. Channel partners can bring a range of specialist consultancy expertise to the table. They may be able to offer powerful sales advantages through insights into:

  • Particular verticals
  • Specific sizes or types of business
  • Knowledge of new geographies
  • Knowledge of cultural subtleties in foreign markets

The benefits of channel marketing for partners

From a channel partner’s perspective, they’re buying services/products from a vendor at discount, then selling them on at a better margin. Their greatest challenge is keeping their sales teams motivated to sell. However, it’s important to remember that channel partners don’t exist to promote and sell a vendor’s products.

Channel partners want to add value and solve problems for their own clients, the end users. They’re businesses in their own right, looking after their own interests – and will always promote the products that generate the most income. That means channel partners value bottom line and ROI above all else.

This is where the mutual benefit comes in… channel partners want to boost sales just as much as the vendors do. It’s a channel marketer’s role to ensure this boost in sales is focussed on a specific vendor’s brand.

How do B2B marketers add value for vendors AND partners?

1. Education

Channel partners always want to sell as much as possible. The vendor’s challenge is to make a partner focus on selling their product. B2B agencies want to create content that makes channel partners see the value in a vendor’s product – and believe it’s going to be a top seller with their customers.

It’s also important to make it as easy as possible for partners to sell the vendor’s product. High-quality content arms channel partners with the vendor’s technical expertise and in-depth product knowledge. Lower-funnel resources like sales presentations, case studies, and product sheets can be extremely helpful when it comes to closing sales.

B2B agencies can also help to position partners as thought leaders with top-of-the-funnel content that focuses on customer-centric topics and helps to educate buyers. It gives partners (and by association, vendors) better reach and reputation among their target audiences. This kind of content might include:

  • Blogs, reports & whitepapers
  • Organic and targeted social media campaigns
  • Webinars, podcasts, & videos

Adding value though education…

Vendor benefits

  • Highlights strengths over competitors
  • Shows partners the true value of their product
  • More reach and reputation among customers


Channel partner benefits

  • Armed with high-quality sales resources
  • Access to vendor’s technical expertise
  • More reach and reputation among customers


2. Awareness

Channel partners aren’t always aware of the helpful education content vendors have produced. If vendor marketing comes across as too dry, technical and product focussed, it can be missed by sales teams – and end-users. This is where the creativity and channel expertise of a B2B marketing agency can be invaluable.

Agencies engage sales teams through SPIFF days, focus days, incentive schemes and other awareness tools and campaigns. These events (physical or digital) keep the vendor’s products front of mind, and also highlight new products and opportunities for partners.

When generating awareness, a good agency also helps to keep a vendor’s brand consistent across their channels. A strong set of channel marketing assets ensures end-users have a consistent and positive relationship with the vendor’s brand, no matter which partner is promoting their services.

This ultimately benefits the channel partner too in terms of sales and revenue. A consistent, identifiable brand voice is key to customers according to McKinsey.

Adding value though awareness campaigns…

Vendor benefits

  • Stay front of mind over competitors
  • Consistent brand voice
  • Boost to sales and revenue


Channel partner benefits

  • Awareness of new products and opportunities
  • More engaged sales teams
  • Boost to sales and revenue


3. Incentivisation

An area where agencies can have a big impact. Vendors want to incentivise partners to sell their products. And partners want to encourage their sales teams to sell more products and boost their bottom line. A B2B agency should be helping to facilitate this mutual partnership – where an incentive leads to growing revenue for both parties.

Incentives are proven to motivate salesforces by keeping them engaged and driven to sell a specific product. In fact, incentive programs that motivate employees to hit specific goals have been found to increase individual performance by 27%. Incentives can also increase sales teams’ loyalty and in turn increase employee retention.

Even with remote teams, sales incentives can have a major impact. B2B agencies can add in elements of gamification such as online games and leaderboards that result in huge boosts to engagement. Studies have found 72% of employees claim gamification inspires them to work harder.

Final thoughts…

The strongest B2B agencies support partners throughout the whole process. They use analytics to offer ‘proof of performance’ and make data-driven decisions to show channel partners the true ROI of their channel marketing campaigns.

The best campaigns are bold, innovative, and involve long-term strategy. They can offer a true win-win for everyone involved: vendor, partner, and agency.

Are you a vendor or channel partner looking for channel marketing support? See all of our channel services here.

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