Three Ways Businesses Support Their Channel Partners

BY Kathy Crosett
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Did you know there are three ways businesses support their channel partners? Whatever marketing assistance they’re offering, chances are, it’s not enough. The BrandMuscle State of Local Marketing Survey shows the many disconnects between vendors and partners. However, there are also opportunities for media companies to help local marketers navigate the programs set up by their vendors.

In an era when more vendors are selling directly to consumers online, they may question whether they even need to have partners. The truth is that the crowded online marketplace makes it difficult to stand out. And the more channels a business operates in, the better the chances of expanding brand awareness and increase demand for their product. The BrandMuscle study makes the case that when vendors develop local marketing efforts with their business partners, good things happen. Businesses with mature local marketing programs drive twice as much revenue growth (10%) as those that are disengaged (4.8%). There are three ways businesses support their channel partners:

  1. Increase Commitment
  2. Program Variety
  3. Digital Marketing

Let's take a look at how these components work.

Increase Commitment

Partner marketing programs succeed or fail based on commitment. Here’s the current level of interest or participation:

  • Partner marketing spending is less than 1% of revenue: 32%
  • Partner commitment is low: 26%
  • Corporate commitment is low: 23%
  • Program variety needs improvement: 15%

Only 49% of channel partners say they are very confident or confident in their marketing choices when working with corporate vendors. And about half lack confidence in their ability to make marketing decisions in general. This lack of confidence may partially explain why so many local partners invest less than 1% of their revenue in ad campaigns and why businesses must increase commitment.

Program Variety

The pandemic-​related shutdown impacted channel marketing in a big way. Co-​op ad funding and affiliate programs were either cut or slowed down. A significant number of vendors believe that, regardless of the pandemic, their channel support needs work. Specifically, they must increase program variety. Vendors say the following statistics apply to their programs:

  • Offers wide range of tactics and is frequently updated: 25%
  • Number of tactics has not evolved since the launch: 16%
  • Missing important tactics: 18%
  • Limited with only one or two components: 19%

In the past year, the number of partners who feel they are supported by vendor marketing programs dropped from 30% to 22%. Another 26% of partners feel that management is not sufficiently engaged at the vendor level. With about 40% of partners believing that vendors only have a weak or little commitment to channel marketing, it’s little wonder that these programs aren’t always successful.

Digital Marketing Support is On the Rise

Interestingly, more vendors are offering digital funding options to their partners with the following formats being used most often:

  • Website 84%
  • Social media 81%
  • Email 65%
  • Sponsorships 53%
  • SEO 46%
  • Paid search 39%

Vendors should know that traditional formats also get used. 44% of partners use newspaper, 49% engage in direct mail and 45% use flyers.

Social media marketing, supported by vendors, is an area marked for improvement. Currently 28% of vendors say they offer guidelines to help marketers get best results. While 11% of vendors also have guidelines for using paid versus organic social, partners remain confused about what they should be doing.

Businesses Support Their Channel Partners

Channel partner programs, whether they exist as co-​op ad funding or in another form, are only as good as the commitment the vendor makes initially and maintains over time. When vendors make funds available, educate their partners on how to use them and help their partners succeed, revenue increases benefit all parties. AdMall from SalesFuel contains detailed information on thousands of co-​op and market development plans designed to help local businesses improve their advertising. And we have several case studies demonstrating the success of these programs at the local level. Are your clients supporting their channel partners? If not, it’s time to start.