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The Channel Focus 2022 Virtual Event, celebrating its 25th anniversary, was recently held with over 50 speakers in the IT industry, covering many topics with the collective aim to better understand new channel trends, develop state-of-the-art channel programs, and build innovative channel sales and marketing strategies.

The last several years have made one thing very clear— our industry is changing fast and it’s more important than ever to stay involved and up-to-date on the latest thinking, best practices, and trends.

During the event, I was fortunate enough to moderate the workshop, “How do you enable your partners to be better marketers?” The discussion was lively and maybe even a little provocative. But, the insights and ideas shared were invaluable. For those that missed the workshop, here are just a few takeaways I believe deserve a mention:  

It’s got to be measurable

Marketers must be able to justify their spending, and the justification relies on results. Channel marketers need tools that measure engagement levels, lead generation, opportunity creation, and conversions. Similarly, channel partners are under similar pressure to justify their marketing investments, meaning they need access to parallel metrics, including cost per lead, conversion rate and customer lifetime value. Attendees at the workshop noted that measuring growth is challenging in the tech industry as the sales cycles can be long.

Refine partner incentives

Incentives have a long history in channel marketing. Partners expect to be rewarded for change, even when that change is clearly to their benefit. Incentives can consist of a simple points system where brands reward partners for participating in activities that drive business goals. Earning marketing certifications is one such activity, as is upselling, cross-selling, and renewals. Channel marketers see incentives as an effective way to get partners to engage and stay engaged until they see the results. Workshop attendees agreed that incentives should be designed to directly reward the intended behavior or result.

Digital is the great equalizer

This may come as no surprise — channel marketers are focusing on digital marketing and driving that focus on to their partners. Digital marketing serves as a great equalizer, allowing even smaller channel partners to reach large audiences cost-effectively. Our attendees noted that end customers are already advancing their own digital transformations, so partners must meet them where they are in the process or be left behind. 

In conclusion, successful channel marketing is a collaborative process, requiring equal efforts by brands and their channel partners. It’s incumbent on brands to create a marketing framework that empowers partners with the information and tools they need to plan, execute and monitor campaigns that drive engagement and measurable results.

Additionally, in order to share ideas and learn new strategies and tools, collaboration with fellow channel marketers is essential. Conferences like Channel Focus 2022 is the very place where these discussions are had and ideas are turned into execution.