Report Finds Channel Partners Are Marketing Challenged

survey of 507 North American IT channel partners finds less than a quarter of partners are accessing a marketing platform provided by an IT vendor on a monthly basis in the past year.

Conducted by Extu, a provider of a platform designed to support indirect channels, the survey makes it clear that most channel partners remain challenged when it comes to marketing, says Extu CEO Joel Montgomery.

The primary issue channel partners face regarding making use of marketing materials provided by vendors are a lack of time (30%) and lack of resources/bandwidth (18%). Only 14 percent say they don’t see value in marketing collateral being provided, the survey finds.

The survey also finds only 20 percent of channel partners said they would be most likely to sell a product if they were provided partner marketing services or marketing training.

Of course, the survey also suggests that many channel partners don’t fund marketing initiatives either. Over half the survey respondents spend less than $5,000 per year on marketing, the survey finds.

“Marketing is an afterthought,” says Montgomery. “There’s usually no one dedicated to it.”

Instead, Montgomery says marketing responsibility is usually assumed by the senior leadership of the company, or individual salespeople are left to their own devices in terms of creating their marketing collateral.

Also, Montgomery notes what marketing initiatives there are tends to be focused on traditional channels rather than emerging digital channels, adds Montgomery. Most digital marketing initiatives are limited to Tier 1 partners that have the resources required to, for example, develop on an audience on social media platforms, notes Montgomery.

As a rule, most channel partners prefer it when vendors launch marketing campaigns aimed at end users because those efforts tend to raise awareness of a product or issue. The hope is that any sales lead generated by those efforts will be quickly shared with channel partners. The problem, of course, is that most channel partners are focused on selling multi-vendor solutions rather than individual products sold on a transactional basis.

What many channel partners have yet to fully appreciate, however, is the degree to which IT vendors will soon be requiring partners to invest in marketing to drive their sales leads as part of maintaining their gold or silver level status in a channel program. In fact, those partners that fail to invest in marketing may soon find themselves at a disadvantage that goes way beyond whether or not anyone recognizes their individual brand.