One of the key indicators of a successful channel marketing program is budget utilization. Depending on the structure of the program, co-op marketing funds can either be used on marketing tactics the sales channels (dealers, distributors, agents) have completed on their own or on those they’ve produced with the help of marketing professionals. When partners are able to utilize a portion, if not all, of their budget on strategic marketing tactics, they will see an increase in local brand recognition and revenue.
The first step to having your sales channel utilize their funds is making them aware that the funds are available. Whether your channel partner has been around for years or is brand-new, they can get busy with running their business and forget the funds available to use. One way to stay top of mind within your network is with a proactive outreach campaign and timely touchpoints. When speaking with your distributor, conversations don’t have to be long or detailed, but rather can serve as a brief reminder that your team is available to help market their business. During a proactive outreach campaign, there are three areas of focus that can help drive the use of co-op funds.
1. Understand What Makes Your Channel Partner Unique
Understand what sets apart that particular channel partner from others you have worked with. While each channel partner for the client might utilize the same general consumer group or be tied to using the same corporate messaging, the individual partners’ position within the local community and among their customers and prospects is unique to them. During your initial conversations, ask questions to better understand their current marketing position, the ways they are reaching their customers, their overall business history, and the gaps they are looking to fill with future marketing.
When the channel partner has the opportunity to describe what makes their business stand out from the rest,or the areas where they would like to see improvement, you have the opportunity to provide strategic recommendations.
2. Provide Strategic Channel Marketing Solutions
Utilize your marketing knowledge to create and provide a series of strategic recommendations that will drive both short-term and long-term growth. When beginning to create strategic marketing solutions for the channel partner, there are a few areas to think about: What is the channel partner doing now that they like and feel is working? What are they doing now that isn’t producing the desired results? And what could they do that will help to produce the results they are looking for?
If the channel partner is just starting their marketing journey, your marketing solutions might lean heavily on your previous professional experience and research collected about the target market. This is where the channel partner will rely heavily on your expertise for simple tactics that can be implemented right away as well as the long-term development of more in-depth tactics. If the channel partner has an existing marketing strategy that is in need of updating, you will need to understand what tactics are working and what tactics could be switched out to keep them top of mind with their customers.
3. Share Examples of How To Use Co-Op Funds
Providing examples of co-op marketing tactics at work can be a powerful tool when gaining buy-in from decision-makers. Examples of completed tactics can show channel partners what the tactic could look like for them and provide an understanding of how the tactic is used and exposure is gained.
While most dealers, distributors, and agents understand the importance of marketing to grow brand recognition and boost revenue, many lack the time and resources to carry out marketing tactics. A channel marketing program that successfully encourages the use of co-op funds can bridge this gap.
Interested in learning more about channel marketing strategy and best practices? Check out more of our blog posts on channel marketing.