ITC Channel Partners – A Reluctance to Engage

ITC Channel Partners - A Reluctance to Engage

What is the most pressing issue facing channel marketing directors currently? The feedback of many sources suggests that it’s the unwillingness for channel partners to participate in joint marketing campaigns with them, despite significant MDF funding available.

This article will examine some of the primary reasons why partners are hesitant to join in co-marketing efforts and what technology companies can do to overcome the obstacles.

1. Objection 1 “We have already committed our marketing budget for the quarter or year”.

This is due to an absence of plan-making on the part of the channel team of the Vendor. The majority of financial years for companies are calendar-based, and every year between October and November, the channel team of the Vendor should be working closely with important partners to develop a joint marketing calendar, which includes budgets for the upcoming year.

Events and campaigns must be planned out using the Vendors marketing calendar for the base. Potential overlaps for co-marketing events and campaigns must be identified and then nailed down. The entire year’s plans for co-marketing should therefore be planned prior to the beginning of the year.

Channel marketing teams must be aware that they compete with other Vendors for time, budget and resources. The channel partner has only so many resources that they can share with IBM, HP, and Oracle, for instance, and the early bird will eat the biggest bugs.

Objection 2 “We just don’t have the time and resources”.

A lot of Vendors aren’t aware of how much pressure smaller partners are under. They must make profits every quarter and are able to count on a small marketing team if there is one. They should concentrate on generating sales today. Marketing campaigns must be easy to create to launch, manage and monitor.

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“Campaigns in a Box” can be a fantastic option to help partners market joint solutions efficiently and professionally. But, this is just one aspect of the solution. The Vendor must allow the partner to customize the campaign, launch it, make a report, and claim funds back from the campaign. The most common solution is to hire an outside agency that can assist the client through all this and also take on a large portion of the administrative work.

Objection 3 “The minimum project size is too large.”

A few smaller partners have difficulty difficult to climb the same level with co-marketing. At the same time, the Vendor might believe that $10,000 dollars are not much, but the partner must think about the fact that they will need to run four campaigns per year from every one of the three strategic partners. At 10,000 for each campaign, this amounts to an investment of 120,000. Based on margins, the expected sales, and the size of the business, the investment could not be achievable.

Vendors should offer a variety of promotions for partners, with the minimum investment being closer to 22,000. This means that a variety of marketing techniques are required in order to meet the budget that is available.

Objection 4 “We don’t get enough support from the Vendor.”

A large part of this could be caused by the fact that a lot of the Vendor’s channel managers are over-stressed. Due to the economic downturn due to the credit crisis, the channel marketing departments have seen their numbers cut down at some of the largest technology vendors.

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A lot of vendors are now using specialist third-party channel marketing companies to provide tactical or ad-hoc assistance to their channel teams as well as directly to their partners. Assistance ranges from workshops on marketing with partners, which are aimed at making the most of co-marketing campaigns to support administrative tasks in demand generation, lead management.

5 “The amount of co-funding is too small/other Vendors co-marketing offers are better, or better funded.”

There’s a wide range between the quality and quantity of co-marketing marketing campaigns as well as the level of market development funds that are available from different vendors. Certain vendors provide 75% of the funds for co-marketing campaigns, whereas others provide nothing at all.

The policy is the rule, and there’s no channel marketing manager or directors are able to do to alter the amount of funding they receive if the company policy is not a lot or has no co-funding. However, they can improve the quality and effectiveness of campaigns. Workshops on marketing for free, lead management, drip-marketing for free, and better quality leads can be all provided by specialist third-party agencies, which all enhance the quality of the experience and the ROI of the agency partner.

Objection 6 “The Vendors drive peak-and-trough marketing.”

In the ITC sector, most solutions are based on a six to eighteen-month sales cycle (at). Partners are often overwhelmed by the number of leads generated by single-off campaigns, which quickly produce numerous leads, but after that, there are no leads until the following year. Partners do not have the resources needed to manage the peak, and they don’t have the expertise to manage lead management or “drip-marketing” systems to nurture prospects over time.

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Vendors should consider a long-term approach to co-marketing initiatives. The goal is to offer partners a constant supply of opportunities that are qualified in amounts that are matched to the resources of partners. The Vendor, whether directly or through an agency of a third party, must also provide the lead management and nurturing services to maximize the return on investment by closing sales from both short-term and long-term sales prospects.