The channel is always awash in new products and technologies for communicating with and enabling channel partners. How to gauge what’s here to stay and warrants attention? It helps to understand the trends early and position yourself to take full advantage. (Like marketing jujitsu!)
Here are three trends that are radically changing the way we develop materials, distribute them to partners, and collect feedback. (All of which were discussed at a Brainshark webinar on Channel Communications earlier this year view webinar replay).
Trend #1 - Social Media Is Increasingly Used to Distribute Marketing Materials.
Social media has forever changed the way vendors develop marketing programs for their channels. Most major vendors have some kind of social media initiative going on right now with channel partners, leveraging everything from LinkedIn programs to Facebook promotions to YouTube contests. Telephone calls and email are slowly but surely being replaced by Tweets and posts. Lead generation is now about creating links to interesting content and enticing people to visit a social media hub. Vendors create an online marketing campaign, enlist partners, create micro-sites, run the campaign, and count the number of people who landed on the micro-site. It's a new way to interact with the market. (Many reseller web sites are inadequate for social media marketing, so vendors often have to provide a micro-site landing page to ensure the quality of the user experience).
Trend #2 - Videos And Visual Materials Are Replacing Text.
Text documents just don't cut it anymore. In our frenetic lives, partners don’t have the time or patience to sit down and try to understand several pages of printed materials. The same forces are eroding the popularity of newspapers, which are being replaced by online information sources. For channel marketing, visually-based multi-media is clearly superior to text-only when it's important that partners retain the message.
YouTube has become a very convenient place for channel marketing to place videos about their products and services. And new phones and flip cameras make it extremely easy for partners to make a video and send it along to customers. While Telepresence isn’t actually social media, it is a very visual medium and its coming fast. Brainshark is another example of visual material suited to channel marketing communications, with the added value of tracking every time one is viewed (unlike YouTube).
Trend #3 - Channel Marketing Content Syndication (CMCS) Systems Are Emerging.
A number of new products are just coming to market that provide powerful content syndication capabilities to channel marketers, and support large and diverse channels of distribution. With CMCS Vendors create a master presentation or console and place it in a marketing library. Partners can opt in and select the content they want. When the vendor inevitably updates the master content, all the documents in distribution are updated simultaneously. This creates a network of trusted communications. Partners get access to quality material with confidence that it is always up-to-date. Real benefits also go to the vendors, who can better control the quality and consistency of the marketing materials being presented to their end users. And every time a user opens the content, information is gathered about what is viewed and for how long.
Channel Marketing executives need to understand and take advantage of these trends for the benefit of their partners and end user customers. Things move too quickly to try and play catch-up with aggressive and media-savvy competitors. The time to capitalize on these three trends is now and the Brainshark Channel Solution is an ideal way to get on top of all of them.
Submitted by Jon Whitlock, VP Channel Solutions