Verizon finally announced their Software Defined Networking (SDN) roadmap yesterday, and while they may be playing catchup to AT&T on SDN,? it’s a shot across the bow for IT vendors as well as their channel marketing teams. In embracing SDN Verizon, like AT&T, has made it clear that they no longer view hardware as strategic, but as a commodity upon which they intend to build value for their customers.
Social media is a significant opportunity for the channel, because it provides a way to attract and empower partners with a new marketing capability, the activity of social marketing can significantly amplify the company’s reach, and the inherent engagement involved in socializing the channel supports better relationships between the company and it’s channel partners.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve been interviewing channel marketing executives and managers about the challenges they face growing partner revenue. The interviews are the first step in an industry benchmarking survey we’re working on at SocialRep, in an effort to understand challenges and best practices in partner enablement, sales acceleration and performance management.
If you’ve ever managed a big project you know many little things can go wrong on the way to that moment of truth when you hope, ultimately, everything goes right. If you’ve managed a lot of big projects, you know how painful it can be when that ultimate moment of truth blows up in your face.? In business, big projects are a part of daily life. We make products, we launch campaigns, we engineer production processes. Big money is at stake, as well as careers and companies. So how do you avoid falling flat on your face?
Have you ever stopped to consider the terminology of marketing, and how it both reflects and affects the way we think about our relationship with customers? Marketing activities are organized as campaigns (often launched with advertising air cover) which focus on targets for the sales force to acquire. These terms are not only militaristic, they betray an attitude of control over customer and channel relationships that is an artifact of a bygone era. Businesses no longer control relationships the way they once did, and channel managers and marketers needs to adapt.
The new world of channel marketing is inbound over outbound—instead of putting a target on the backs of? customers for partner sales team to hunt, you help partners attract customers with relevant content that addresses their interests and needs. You do that by enabling partners to engage with the market, cultivating peer connections, collaborating with influencers and driving dialog with customers.
Over the past several years, inbound channel marketing has grown to be one of the most influential approaches to modern marketing. Inbound marketing addresses a number of key challenges in marketing today, most notably the need to engage with customers in a more productive and sustainable way. ? Although inbound marketing has been growing by leaps ands bounds among both B2B and B2C businesses, it hasn’t yet taken hold in the channel, largely due to the challenges of scaling quality content for a distributed network of partners. Bits and pieces of inbound marketing have been adapted for the channel, such as social media syndication and content curation, but it’s high time for a true? Inbound Channel Marketing solution.
There’s a dangerous? undercurrent we see developing among channel? marketing organizations? trying to deal with the? confusing landscape of social media options? that can? best be called “Checking Off the Social Media Box.” Everyone knows social media is important, but it’s hard to pin down exactly where it adds the most value, so business objectives get over-simplified to reduce the confusion.