4 Ways You Can Engage Your Partners

Your partners may not be your customers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still send them information. Contacting your partners on a regular basis ensures that you’re regularly interacting with them. It also keeps your partners in the loop on any industry news and changes that may be occurring. 

You probably already send your partners a newsletter on a monthly or quarterly basis, but sending a weekly or biweekly email goes a long way in maintaining your partner-vendor relationship. This email can include industry news, sales and marketing best practices, and any company news that affects them. 

However, you don’t have to stick with emails. You can tag your partners in your social media posts when publishing your blog or remind them on Twitter of your latest partner webinar. You can send them a video message introducing your latest product or just to say “happy holidays”.  

4 Types of Partner Marketing Messages

In addition to your regular newsletter, here are 4 other messages you should send your partners. These messages ensure that your partners are apprised of any important changes or events and kept in the loop on industry news, while also helping them stay current with their skills. These messages provide the benefit of growing your partner-vendor relationship as they show your partners that you’re invested in them and their success, as well as your own. 

The Welcome Kit

This should be the first thing you send your partners. The welcome kit helps familiarize your partners with your partner program, processes, and your partner portal. This should be a sequence of 5 emails sent within the first few weeks of the partnership. 

The first email should be a welcome message introducing the partner to their channel manager and explaining the onboarding process. If you choose to include a video message with this email, it should be a minimum of 60 seconds. The following emails after that should introduce your partner program, your products, and your partner portal. You may choose to use videos for these introductions as well. If you choose to use video, then the video can be 2 to 5 minutes long as you are introducing and explaining how things work. 

Finally, you should include a summary email restating the information given in the previous emails. This final email should also include their channel manager’s contact information and links to any resources they may find useful. 

The Weekly News Brief

This is a single email containing any relevant industry news, company news, and other information that your partners can use to plan their upcoming week. This email should also mention any upcoming events that partners may be interested in attending and should include links to further information. 

You can also include any sales or marketing tips that your partners may find useful. You can also mention a blog post you read or a podcast you listened to make the email sound more personable. This email can be sent early Monday morning or on Friday the previous week. 

Notifications About Events Your Partner May Like to Attend 

Like your customers, your partners should also get notifications for company-hosted events that are relevant to them. These can be partner-exclusive events such as “meet and greets” that allow partners to meet their channel managers in a less corporate setting. They can also be events open to anyone such as trade shows and industry conferences.  

Along with the emails and reminders about the event, your partners should also receive an additional email(s) with tips on how to get the most out of the event. You can send them tips such as how to estimate the number of business cards they’ll need to hand out at the event or best practices on following up with potential leads after the event. 

Surveys Asking for Your Partners’ Opinions 

Surveys are a great way to ask your partners questions about your partner program, your products, and their overall impression of your company. These surveys should be sent out on a regular basis such as quarterly or annually. You want to send your surveys frequently enough to spot emerging trends, but you also don’t want to annoy your partners by sending them too frequently. You may need to do some testing to find the frequency that works best for your partners. 

To find out more about when and how you should survey your partners, take a look at our post on why you should survey your channel partners

Thank Your Partners

Everyone loves feeling appreciated. They want to know they’ve done a good job, made important contributions, and that you recognize those contributions. Thanking your partners for a good quarter, helping you win an award or other important contributions goes a long way in generating goodwill. 

While you can certainly send them an email expressing your thanks, why not give your thank you a more personal touch. Sending your partner a video message expressing your thanks shows that you’re sincere. Video messages take time to make and won’t give your partner the impression that you’re just “checking the box” on having a good partner relationship. 

Conclusion

By communicating with your partners on a regular basis, you increase their engagement and grow your relationship. First, you should send them a welcome kit to make sure your relationship gets off to a good start. This shows your partners that you’re willing to invest in them and their success. The other messages you send will only reinforce that impression. 

You should send them a weekly news brief with professional development tips, company and industry news, and anything else they may find relevant. This builds upon the good impression you made with the welcome kit and sets you up as an authority they can contact when they have questions or need advice. You should also send them notifications for any events you think they may be interested in and include tips on how to make the most out of those events. This can help your partners get more leads and grow professionally, making them more likely to attend those events in the future. 

Also, send them regular messages thanking them for their contributions. These messages show that you recognize their work and appreciate them. Keep sending them your newsletter as well. This should include their successes and recap any major updates, news, and other events that occurred during the month or quarter. Finally, you should be sending them regular surveys to get their feedback. This shows your partners that you’re interested in their opinions and are invested in their success. 

Discover the Key to Unlocking Your Distribution Channels

In today’s automated, tech-driven world, channel marketing has remained one of the last holdouts due to its continued dependence on manual labor. The concept of a manufacturer leveraging distribution channels for indirect sales is age-old, but the actual process of equipping and supporting those channel partners with simple, actionable strategy has scarcely evolved over the decades.

Well, until now. New software platforms have begun to prioritize the partner journey, and it’s about time. If you’re a vendor or manufacturer, partners are the key you’ve been searching for.

And with this emergence of tech to combat antiquated channel sales methods, automation has finally caught up to the partner problem. Now it’s time for you to adopt these digital solutions and get your idle distribution channels moving. Prioritizing partners is the greatest channel marketing strategy you could dream up, and here’s why:

  • Making partners a priority is tangible, actionable, and straightforward, rather than conceptual.
  • When partners are a priority, more of them will participate in your co-marketing initiatives.
  • When partner participation increases, your reach, visibility, and revenue increase too.

3 pillars of a good channel marketing strategy

If you’re a vendor company that relies on distributors or resellers, you know all too well the pain points of getting a channel program off the ground. Whether you’re a company that sees channel partners as a critical move in scaling your brand, or you started building a partner program into your sales infrastructure at the very start, the story is the same.

You need to provide sales enablement tools and initiate co-branding opportunities in a way that makes it easy for your distribution channels to redistribute.

So, for starters, you must:

1) Develop your channel marketing strategy with your partners in mind.

Because they’re the ones you’ll be relying on to deliver it, remember? This may seem obvious, but it’s incredibly common for vendors to forget the needs of their channel partners in achieving success. They expect channel partners to, indeed, do all that old-school manual labor. The truth is, 80% of them won’t.

So don’t retroactively build your partners into your plan. Instead, plan to meet their needs and requirements during your initial blueprint phase, so you’re always keeping them engaged and they feel they were always part of the plan—not an afterthought. This will take more manual labor on your part (unless you’re ready to adopt a platform that takes the heavy lifting off your hands) but absorbing some of that hard work on the front end can have exponential results for your distribution channels.

2) Provide marketing collateral via a platform that makes co-branding and redistribution easy.

In an attempt to assuage as much manual labor as possible, the widely accepted approach to channel marketing has been for vendors to adopt a partner portal or PRM. It’s likely you already have one of these, so you’re familiar with using such a platform to drop off your branded content—like design assets, data sheets, price lists, landing pages, infographics, etc—then let your channel partners know it’s there and expect them to come collect, co-brand, repurpose, and redistribute all on their own.

While this removes some of the manual labor for you, it’s not doing much for your partners. And it’s been this way for decades. (Hence why we said in the intro that this evolution has been slow and scarce.) The most recent SaaS technology available truly battles this issue by bridging the labor gap between you and that 80% of your partners who can’t or won’t do all the work you’re expecting.

3) Incentivize and reward your highly active distribution channels.

As your partner program grows, there will be varying degrees of partner engagement and you’ll want to prioritize those most engaged by incentivizing them with MDF and SPIFs. But again, today’s most common channel marketing approach requires the partner to proactively use the partner portal or PRM to retrieve collateral and generate campaigns on their own.

So aside from remaining a manual and time consuming process, this approach makes it nearly impossible for you to determine which partners are truly engaging. There are no metrics tracking who’s doing what, making MDF management a blind undertaking.

Engage your channel partners with today’s tools

Fortunately, according to Forrester, there’s been an evolution in technology to assist today’s vendors and manufacturers with their distribution channels. These through-channel marketing automation platforms are considered the “third stage” (in other words, the future) of digital marketing. But like most solutions, not all are created equal.

When your channel marketing team is ready to adopt a more modern and intuitive platform, be sure to search for TCMA tools that truly automate old processes and deliver your messaging with ease through partners and onward to their pipeline. The ideal solution will make it simple for both you and your partners, and will empower you to effortlessly deliver consistent, co-branded campaigns while providing insight into your partners’ activity.

Free Book, No Catch, Limited Quantity

Ronnell Richards’ Shut the Hell Up and Sell book helps business owners learn effective and innovative sales techniques. He also discusses the lessons he has learned during his lengthy sales career and how anyone can level up their sales game.

Great resource to share with MSPs, Resellers and other Partners.