Every year, a report comes out estimating the amount of unused channel marketing funds. The number typically fluctuates in the billions. Billions. This means that vendors are allocating hundreds to thousands of dollars out of their own marketing budget for their channel partners who don’t even apply the funds towards any marketing strategy. In some cases, vendors have considered completely slashing their co-op and market development fund programs altogether. But why? Many of Computer Market Research’s clients have surpassed their goals through their co-op marketing program alone. What’s the reason for such a negative perception on ROI-generating marketing initiatives?
So many vendors are left scratching their heads in confusion at their partners’ lack of traction when it comes to marketing. However, this isn’t always the case. In honest truth, it’s because most organizations simply had no idea that they had marketing funds to begin with. At some point within the distribution chain, there was a miscommunication between vendor and partner such that the partner was unaware that co-op marketing or market development funds were being credited towards their marketing budget. The solution? Let your partners know. Simple enough? Maybe not. The issue with an email is that it’s time-sensitive. As it gets buried under the onslaught of new messages, your partners will be less likely to review it. Vendors need a practical way to stay top of mind when it comes to channel marketing initiatives. One such solution would be automated reminder emails detailing fund expiration, a dedicated account manager to assist them with campaigns, and a portal to constantly remind your partners that there are funds available.
Most partners are involved in more than one channel marketing program. This adds an additional layer of complications since they don’t necessarily have the resources to spread themselves so thin. In this situation, vendors should simplify their marketing programs, such that partners will be able to create marketing campaigns seamlessly. Not only does this increase the likelihood of partners adopting your marketing program, it also attracts more partners from your competitors who may possess a more restrictive marketing fund program. You partners, especially smaller organizations with no dedicated marketing team will find it difficult to be able to tackle every vendor’s marketing program. By making your program easy to monitor, track, and deploy marketing campaigns, your resellers will be naturally drawn to your channel marketing program. The same can be said for a vendor’s proof-of-performance process.
If your proof-of-performance process involves requiring partners to submit multiple forms or to resubmit documents to various departments, you may notice a decrease in partner participation. It’s somewhat obvious but if a vendor continues to deploy complex rules in their marketing program, it shouldn’t be a surprise to notice partners interest begin to subside. Partners come in many different shapes and sizes. With that being said, smaller channel partners will not have the time or resources to abide by every rule of your channel marketing program once it becomes too difficult. The best strategy would be to keep things as simple as possible. This often means cutting out unnecessary fields, hoops, and hurdles for your partners. Vendors really have to make an effort to simply their partner program, whether it be your deal registration criteria or claim management process.
Another solution to address the channel marketing dilemma would be to roll out pre-approved marketing templates that enable partners and resellers to easily create and execute marketing campaigns. Partners without the staff and knowledge of marketing will be able to easily apply their logo to a pre-made template and hit “Send” without requiring the time involved in the creation of a traditional marketing plan.