Most manufacturers don’t sell their products directly consumers. Instead you rely on channel partners to get your “goods” or merchandise into the hands of consumers — it’s these resellers, distributors and wholesalers that extend your reach. And in return, they look to you for support by way of programs, promotions and incentives that make it easier for them to get the job done.

Unfortunately, 2020 has thrown nearly everyone a curve ball; you’ve likely had to “huddle,” evaluate your line-up and outline a new strategy to overcome the unexpected challenger, and win.  In part one of this series, we looked at channel sales and suggested ways to align your front-line team with the needs of your channel partners.

Next-up channel marketing and enablement.

Channel Marketing

How should we adapt our partner communications? 

  • Adjust current messaging and automated communications to more authentically represent your brand and relay sensitivity to the current environment.
  • Establish a messaging cadence for partner manager outreach. 
  • Maintain up-to-date partner platforms (such as intranets, portals, etc.).
  • Keep you in-mind, you can’t over-communicate.

How should I approach planned or existing marketing programs?

  • Shift sales meetings and event budgets to digital programs.
  • Continue with partner award programs with understanding of the current environment.
  • Consider new ways to motivate and provide incentives.

What new marketing tactics should I put in place?  

  • Leverage digital offers and spiffs to encourage engagement and participation. 
  • Create a COVID-19 Partner Resource Hub. 
  • Develop an advisory council that meets digitally to collect feedback and deepen relationships. 
  • Maintain an agile approach.

How should I approach co-op?

  • Provide partners with easily personalized messaging for the customer.
  • Look for synergies across your partner ecosystem to build time sensitive joint go-to-market plans and co-marketing programs.  
  • Shift budgets to innovative digital co-marketing programs.

Channel Enablement

How do I ensure my enablement programming is still relevant?

  • Work with sales, marketing and customer success to update your target segments and accompanying buyer personas and buyer’s journey.  

How do I onboard new partners in this environment? 

  • Schedule virtual onboarding sessions with key channel partner stakeholders. 
  • Build, leverage and promote self-service capabilities/ tools.
  • Make it simple with a direct mail checklist.
  • Be flexible with onboarding requirements.

How do I ensure my existing partners are continuing enablement initiatives?  

  • Schedule virtual enablement sessions.
  • Use spiffs to encourage engagement.
  • Update joint dashboards with additional enablement-driven metrics. 

What’s most essential in these unusual times for manufacturers and corporate teams, is to be responsive, act quickly and consider how the current environment may be uniquely influencing your various channel partners and apply the right tactics to each situation.

Your channel support will be rewarded with future loyalty, and long-term partnerships.

Iris is here to help simplify your channel strategy. For a demo of how we’ll do that, contact 913-749-4100 or