We’ve all received a text and immediately thought to ourselves, “What?”
Just that: What? Utter confusion. Maybe there was no context to the text, or something was spelled incorrectly and threw off the meaning of a sentence, or a wrong number contacted you. The important thing here is: You got a text and either didn’t respond or had to ask for further clarification. We’ve all been there.
Communicating via text and even email presents its own specific brand of challenges. You have to communicate entirely without tone to help the recipient along. When so much of what we say in person is conveyed not with words but through body language and vocal tone, how can you express what you need to say without being misinterpreted?
Let’s put this in channel terms. Finding out what will motivate partners or customers to take the action you’d like them to make is crucial. We say an awful lot without saying anything at all. So how can you be sure your partners or customers are receiving your messages as you intend them to be received? How can you prevent that moment of “What?”
Get Your Strategy Straight
Applying a cohesive and proactive strategy to your partner communications will work wonders for your channel program. Saying that series of words sounds impressive, sure, but what does it actually mean?
Have a meeting with your channel team and come up with a plan for what you need. Keep these questions in mind when you’re brainstorming:
- What do you want to achieve through your channel program? This message should be an overarching theme for all your communications. Thread this goal into everything you do, whether it’s centered on promoting a specific product line, reaching into an untapped market with new service, or something else. You’ll need to repeat it more than you think to reach partners.
- Are you using segmentation to target subsets of channel partner profiles with specific messaging? You should be. Lower performing partners may need more motivation with more frequent or tailored messaging to get them engaged. And you’ll want to maintain a great rapport with high-performers to keep them active. (Learn more about the importance of partner segmentation here.)
- What are the main messages you want to deliver to channel partners? If you can’t answer that, think about this: What do you want your partners to do after they read your message? If that point or call to action isn’t clear in your messaging, partners will move on to the next thing on their to-do list.
- What communication medium or platform are you using to get in touch with partners? Email blasts, social media, the partner portal or phone calls are common methods, but what works best for your needs and the urgency of the message you’re delivering? Just like digital marketing outreach, a multi-touch approach works best for to-partner communications. Consider the timing and cadence of your messages as well.
- Who will be delivering the message? Identify the team member who will be communicating with your channel partners and have a specific owner for each medium, so a point person assigned to email, portal or social media, for instance.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Now that you know what you’re saying and how you’re saying it to partners, it’s time to collaborate with partners on your customer communications strategy. You’ll need to get on the same page with partners and make sure your objectives are aligned to make the most impact. Here are a few points to consider when messaging customers, through-partner or not:
- What’s the purpose of your message to customers? This seems obvious, but keep in mind that your purpose and your partner’s purpose may differ.
- What is the main message you are delivering to customers? What message will your partners deliver? A unified front may seem to be ideal, but try to keep your messages complementary — they should build on each other. Though your goal is “sell X amount of this product line,” your partner’s goal can be “sell the remaining stock of a subset of X,” and not interfere with your main objective.
- Team up on communication methods. Planned communications to customers is ideal for everyone’s peace of mind. Identify who will be reaching out and at what stage of the customer lifecycle.
With clear objectives and precise details on who is handling each task, you stand a good chance of connecting with partners and customers.
Submitted by Kiersten Hoffman
Director of Content Marketing at Zift Solutions.