Let me start by clarifying what I mean by channel. By channel, I mean direct or indirect sales resources (people). Recently, channel is increasingly used to mean digital marketing channel, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, Google+. I have also seen channel to represent Web site (direct), call center (voice and chat), tablet (iPad, Galaxy, Kindle, etc.), or mobile (iPhone, Galaxy, Blackberry, Nokia, or others).
Indirect channels have economic value in their reach. Because you do not have to pay for their entire resource, channel partners can extend your reach by promoting or selling your products to smaller volume customers. This is good because it is less expensive for you. This is bad because you give up total control over that selling resource. They now have multiple things to sell so you have to provide a value to them to maintain your mind share of their selling effort. The best way to do this is to be easy to work with and have a product that is easy to sell. Easy, right?
For indirect channels, whether they are human or automated, they need to project the same singular brand for your company as delivered by your web site and your direct sales force. In order to do this well, they need to be motivated, managed and they need to have a consistent launch calendar for communication activities. This launch calendar should start with an agreement of what is in it for them (the benefit) and what is expected for them to do to align to it and earn it (the reward). From that agreement, you should provide a steady guidance of what to promote, the messaging to deliver, and what to do in response when a customer is interested by these offers.
The list of products or services to be promoted should be updated monthly, quarterly at a minimum. Each product should offer materials on the types of customers, markets, or applications where this product is desired along with example customers where you have this information. It should include how to offer this promotion to customers (physically, electronically, in presentation form), when this delivery should happen, and how you will notify them when a customer they introduce to your product or service has interest.
In the cases where your channel partners follow your guidance and expose your products to a new customer, you should provide your "just in time" (JIT) training to guide the sales person on how to follow up to a successful engagement. This type of support should leverage the modular content you develop for every launch with the addition of how this sales person can use your help to deliver the message with the highest probability for success.
If you have the ability to deliver this type of JIT training securely, this is a good place to integrate a very clear definition of your value proposition for this product, competitve analysis of alternative devices from your competition, who to contact for more detailed support on this device, and a near term road map of your current investments and upcoming product extensions. This is a great way to get early feedback on your product strategies but it carries with it the risk that this information can migrate into the hands of your competitors through your multi-vendor channel partners.
This Web site is aimed at capturing some of the basic concepts I use when creating integrated marketing programs and leveraging the internet.
Phil Gibson ©2016