For businesses that rely on channel partners to promote and sell their products, marketing is rapidly becoming a critical strategic risk. The more technology migrates to the cloud, the more it disrupts old partner business models. Reliable partners who generated sales yesterday may not be the partners driving sales tomorrow, putting millions of dollars in channel revenue at risk.
Twenty years ago when I was a couple of years out of college and dreaming up my first startup, the commercial Internet was just getting off the ground. I worked as a news editor and journalist at a mid-size daily newspaper and had access to the Internet through a Mosaic browser, where I could read the first online newspaper called The Nando Times. All of the market analysis at the time focused on content business models for the web, which is when I first heard the old saw “Content is King”. Twenty years of mind-bending evolution later, we’re still saying the same thing as if learning it for the first time. It’s time to move on.
One of the most common refrains I hear among marketing solution providers in the channel is that any kind of partner marketing initiative must be blindingly simple for partners to execute. If you require partners to do so much as press a button from time to time, that may be too much to ask. God forbid you ask your partners to put some effort into their campaigns. The ideal scenario is for your partner to just open their mouth so your automated message can tumble out.
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.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve heard a growing drumbeat of complaints about marketing in the IT channel. I’ve heard it from channel managers, field marketers, partner marketing and sales teams. I’ve heard it phrased a dozen different ways. I’ve heard it applied to email, digital, events and telesales. But the message is always the same: “We’re not getting the traction from marketing programs we’ve always counted on.”
For seven years now, we’ve been delivering social media intelligence to some of the world’s largest brands, and we’ve watched marketers struggle with the concept of segmentation in social media. Segmentation is one of the fundamental principals of good marketing–the idea of dividing customers with similar needs and attributes into groups for more targeted marketing. Demographics, psychographics and behavioral economics are all time-tested techniques for segmenting markets in meaningful ways, and marketers have done backflips trying to apply them to social media.