The Challenge of Marketing Through Distributed Partners

September 26, 2016 Meghan Zimmerman

Historically, companies have viewed their distribution channels as sales channels, existing to fulfill demand and provide customer service. In recent years, savvy organizations have realized that they can leverage their distributed partners – resellers, agents, franchisees, field sales and other channel partners – to market on their behalf.

What makes marketing through distributed partners so powerful?

A strong distributed marketing strategy aims to increase the brand’s reach and relevance in order to increase productivity and get the most out the brand’s channel investments.

According to Forrester Research, “brands typically have hundreds to thousands of channel partners engaging with channel partners in the sales process.” Leveraging partners “to reach and be heard by more customers is a no-brainer.” (1)

Plus, because partners have an intimate knowledge of their market, they know how to best connect with those audiences. By marketing through partners, brands are able to utilize their partners’ local knowledge and clout to market to their target audience.

But wait, it’s not that easy…

This all sounds great, but marketing through partners comes with its own series of challenges.

  • Insufficient resources at the brand level means that only a small percentage of partners can be properly supported and incentivized.
  • Lack of control results in inconsistent brand experiences and ineffective marketing at the local level.
  • Limited visibility to activities and results makes it difficult for brands to measure and prove ROI of channel programs.
  • Lack of partner marketing skills combined with complicated programs and limited support results in limited participation and inconsistent results.
  • Low partner engagement results in limited participation in channel marketing programs and wasted effort and resources.

In fact, handing off marketing to a distributed channel can be downright terrifying to a brand that has invested a great deal of resources into building and maintaining their brand.

Technology to the rescue!

Distributed Marketing platforms (also called Through-Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA) or Channel Marketing Management (CMM) platforms) allow brands to give distributed partners access to the proper content and tools to increase local brand presence through email campaigns, digital advertising, search marketing, direct mail, and more. These platforms provide brands with the control and visibility needed to ensure that brand standards are being followed and that the marketing is effective.

These platforms also allow more savvy distributed partners to get involved in marketing with the right levels of freedom via customization, targeting and timing so they can help tailor marketing to resonate with the right consumers at the right time. This allows brands to connect to customers in a personal way that will enable partners to close the sale sooner and more frequently.

  1. Harmon, Tim, and Lori Wizdo. The Forrester Wave ™: Through-Channel Marketing Automation Platforms, Q3 2015. Forrester Research, 4 Aug. 2015. Web.
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