Imagine that you’re running a successful business where demand highly exceeds the pace at which you can share your services with the customers. You get far more leads that your sales team can handle. People are reaching out to you from far and wide. It sounds like a catastrophe is about to happen. What do you do?
You may have thought about other ways to tackle this, but for me, contacting potential partners that could help you with the demand seems like the next logical step. You may have noticed that once you start researching techniques on building business partnerships, the phrase ‘channel marketing’ keeps popping up.
In today’s post, I’ll explain what’s in this outreach technique for you and how you can get onboard. I’ll also share a few tips on using channel marketing to your own advantage.
What is channel marketing
Channel marketing is a marketing practice when you partner up with another company and use its channels to market your own product.
In a more traditional sense, this technique has been (and still is) used by manufacturing industry for at least a few decades. Recently, more and more SaaS ventures are looking for ways to share their tools with high-volume audiences using this method.
A great example of this practice is our own Partner Program where you can sign up as an Affiliate or a Solution Partner. Depending on which path you choose, you can either promote LiveChat by sharing a link that offers a discount on our product or implement and customize the tool for your customers as a value-added reseller.
It is worth mentioning what channel marketing is not too. It is definitely not about focusing solely on your partner’s brand or product. From the business point of view, it is rather about providing value to your own customers by filling the gaps in your service offering.
One way to ensure that you’re contributing with quality products, is conducting a customer research before you’ll start reaching out to potential partners.
You can also choose them based on the feedback you’ve received while contacting your long-time clients.
If you’d like to learn about the importance of going an extra mile for your customers while expanding your business scope, you can watch this informative video on how channel marketing has changed in the recent years and what you can do to keep up:
Why is it worth getting onboard with channel marketing
The most obvious advantage of employing channel marketing as your advertising strategy is the fact that you’ll be able to share the burden of marketing a product.
While it may seem like business partnerships will require a lot of work on your side (especially at the very beginning), they also provide you and your venture with an invaluable support network which will be crucial for surviving the ups and downs of your business journey. Once you register, you can not only contact your partner manager for advice but also reach out to other partners using the same program.
Business partnerships can also go beyond the - how we may call it - ‘soft’ support. They can also mean sharing assets like client databases, strategy-related documents, or even technology that will help you succeed with your advertising campaigns. In some cases, this will also include preparing customized tools and solutions in a response to your very specific issues.
How can you start using channel marketing
Now that you’re hopefully convinced that partnering up is the right way for your business to scale, you may be wondering what should be your first step. In one of our recent post we’ve listed methods for developing money-making strategies for business collaborations, so you can take a look at these.
In general, you’ll need to through few stages while preparing for a partnership:
- research stage when you’ll be looking for the right fit with your potential collaborators,
- strategy development stage that will help you organize your goals and the approach you’ll be taking with your campaigns,
- the most active execution stage when you’ll need to turn all planning into actions,
- reassessment and nurturing stage which will consist of analyzing your results and deepening your partnerships.
Please note that all of the above-mentioned phases are meant to be used as a repeatable loop and not as a closed step-by-step guide with an end goal in mind. Once you’ll venture into the world of business partnerships, you will need to re-assess them on a regular basis.
Great partner programs are all about empowering their collaborators. That’s why with our Partner Program, we focus on offering an all-round support that includes not only an extensive dashboard with complete analytics and marketing assets ready to be used in all of your campaigns but also a personal backup in the form of our partner managers who will be assigned to you once you sign up. This way you can be sure that when and if your marketing efforts have not been successful, you can always reach out for advice.
Having a partner success manager whom you can contact at any time is also a characteristic of all great partner programs, so I highly recommend ensuring that this is the case before you’ll get involved.
All marketing campaigns will require from you to develop at least some of your own advertising assets. You may already have some of these ready if you’re a seasoned entrepreneur, but if you’re just starting out as a solution partner, you may need to outsource creating those. You may also look into using tools like Canva or Buffer’s Pablo for basic marketing materials like social media visuals.
There’s also another way to go about these assets. You can reach out to your potential partners and ask them for banners or easy-to-follow tutorials that you could use when introducing their product to your customers. We have these ready for you to access and use anytime.
You can also advertise your venture by cross-promoting it on your partner’s blog. At LiveChat, we feature our partners’ success stories and we’re always up for a blog post that will show others what you’re most proud of in your company. They are also a great way to suggest what techniques you can employ as a partner and inspire our potential partners.
Automation will be a great help if you plan to start with channel marketing. It will not only allow you to reach out your customers more efficiently through i.e. email marketing campaigns but also respond to them on time by employing tools such as LiveChat or ChatBot. These will ensure that you stay on top of communicating with your customers.
It’s worth remembering that - when it comes to automation - there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so it is important to personalize your campaigns as much as possible. Fortunately, the modern automation solutions are getting more and more customizable.
You can use also data you’ve collected about your customers using other tools there.
Over to you
As you may be able to see by now, channel marketing can be a valuable way to expand your business offering and connect with other ventures.
What you should remember about though is the fact that a more personalized and mindful approach may be the key to success. As it’s the case with other advertising channels, it’s always quality over quantity.
P.S. What tools and techniques you’ve been using in channel marketing? I’d love to hear more about your experience in the comments below or/and on Twitter. Let’s discuss!