Why brands must pursue a service-led approach to through-channel marketing

Why brands must pursue a service-led approach to through-channel marketing

Alli Campofranco

In late 2018, Extu commissioned a survey of 100 IT brands and channel partners by Forrester Consulting, the internationally-renowned market research agency. In a series of blog posts, we will examine the key findings of the Forrester study, such as:         
  • The reasons so many partners do not use brand-provided through-channel marketing platforms
  • The top challenges that partners face in executing marketing campaigns
  • The importance of incentives in motivating channel partners to conduct marketing
  • The high demand among partners for digital marketing solutions

In this post, we’ll focus on another significant conclusion of the Forrester study: the important role that services play in driving partner engagement.

Technology is important, but not enough

While it’s critical for brands to offer partners user-friendly marketing platforms that integrate easily with partners’ existing systems, good technology alone will not guarantee that partners will take part in brand-provided marketing campaigns.

As we’ve discussed, small and mid-size partners are strapped for time and resources, and many lack confidence in executing campaigns on their own. Providing them access to the technology, and merely assuming they will utilize it  to craft a high-quality marketing campaign will lead to many of the partners forgoing marketing altogether.

SMB partners want services

The Forrester study showed that third party services are the most common reason that partners access brand-provided through-channel marketing platforms. Of those who report using platforms, 32% say they use them at least weekly to access third party services, while 18% say they access the platform daily for services.

In contrast, only 22% of partners who use brand-provided platforms access them weekly for the purpose of executing marketing campaigns, only 14% do so to download sales and marketing assets, and only 9% use them weekly to access events or webinars. 

Services are key to driving SMB partner engagement

The Forrester study was unequivocal: brands need to pursue a service-led approach to through-channel marketing in order to maximize engagement among partners, particularly SMB resellers. Services work hand-in-hand with the through-channel marketing technology, with brands providing information and advice directly to partners via email and phone consultations. Following up regularly with partners is shown to drive increased utilization and positive outcomes for both brands and partners.  

For larger partners that have dedicated marketing staff, concierge services are often the best approach to providing services. However, for the much larger group of SMB partners, a concierge service is insufficient.

Instead, brands should offer programmatic services directly to individual SMB partners. While partners may be able to use the technology to approve and schedule campaigns, they will likely need help prioritizing leads or providing non-branded thought leadership content that will make their marketing campaigns appear more objective and appealing to end-buyers.

Explore the Forrester study further

Brands do not need to accept that so few of their channel partners will take advantage of their marketing platforms. Low utilization should not be a given. Instead, it is a symptom of flaws in how brands are trying to engage with partners. If you’re interested in further exploring the findings of the Forrester report, including how brands can improve the situation, check out the Forrester report in its entirety or take a look at the four additional articles we’ve published examining some of the study’s most significant findings. The next article focuses on the major challenges that partners face in executing marketing campaigns.