Channel marketing has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years. Technology enabling anywhere, anytime connectivity has altered how companies communicate and interact with channel partners, and partners with customers.
It has also changed the purchasing dynamic, as customers increasingly go online to research companies, products, services, and engage in online forums.
The key driver of these conversations? Content.
Relevance + Authenticity = Engagement
Essentially, the purpose of content is engagement. However, for many organizations there’s often a disconnect between the content available and what partners need to engage customers at various stages of the buyer’s journey. For marketers, it’s a delicate balancing act between creating a thought leadership piece that offers real insight and being too sales-focused.
When you develop content that’s authentic, relevant, and relatable, it not only shows you have something to say, but you’ve taken time to listen and understand business challenges and have the ideal solution. Content that offers genuine advice or enhances knowledge about your products and company can help partners start or continue the sales conversation (and will be better received).
Quality Over Quantity
One of the hardest things to do when it comes to generating content is knowing where to start. Before commencing any type of content, it’s important to ask: does it add value – to partners, to customers? Does it offer solutions to business challenges partners face? Is it relevant or just noise?
The amount of content you offer is less important than its quality. Producing vast amounts of content that’s perceived as not having any value can significantly diminish your brand reputation and negatively affect partner engagement.
The right type of content increases brand awareness, differentiates you from competitors, and establishes you as an industry expert.
Borrowing from the Library
Creating a diverse library of content will keep your partners returning for more as they’re able to draw on these resources to maintain conversations with their customers. The format can be anything from how-to guides, data sheets, white papers, eBooks, infographics, images, videos, blog posts, podcasts – anything that can be utilized by your channel partners to generate leads or assist in moving the sales journey forward.
That’s why it’s important to continually refresh the content available to ensure it remains relevant. It not only needs to offer solutions to current business challenges, it needs to make life easier for busy, budget-strapped managers.
A well-stocked content library will quickly elevate your company to industry-leader status and build your reputation as the go-to source for valuable information.
Don’t be Anti-Social
Today’s business landscape is a mobile one. To further enhance engagement, become an active participant across industry-related social media channels.
These are the ideal forums to gain deep insight into the needs and challenges your customers are discussing. This invaluable knowledge enables you to generate content that acknowledges and addresses those challenges. The more interesting and topical your content, the more value it adds, and it’s more likely people will share it on their own social media channels.
Start Telling Your Story
Content creation can be challenging, but a compelling, well-told story is much more engaging than a straight-up sales pitch. It captures and holds the attention of your target audience and has a higher propensity to elicit the desired action.
Companies experiencing the most success with their content are those that talk directly and personally with their channel partners, and encourage two-way conversations. It focuses on understanding partner needs and offers solutions that save time and money, and lead to business growth opportunities.
|Cameron Avery is senior vice president of business development at Zift Solutions and leader of Zift’s Channel Center of Excellence. Previously, he was the CEO and Founder of Elastic Grid.|