Want a Strong Channel Voice? Begin with a Solid PR Program
Many companies have the products, services and people in place to be successful, but lack the information (and skills) to properly engage with the partner community. In fact, making a poor effort with public relations and marketing can actually damage businesses that are new to the channel.
For example, last week I came across a case study that a friend of mine had shared on Facebook. The article did a great job covering the industry-specific benefits this company’s technology provided this particular organization. It was clear, concise and offered a number of reasons for using this vendor’s wares. The problem was, the company was trying to recruit MSPs and never once mentioned a partner, the channel benefits of the offering or anything about a program or how to sign up. The article didn’t include a single reason why an IT services firm would want to work with that vendor (other than what seems like a great solution).
While I know the company executive didn’t intend to send the wrong message by sharing this article, he inadvertently did. Sometimes people get too busy to notice the focus of an article or a pitch, but what may seem like a subtle mistake or incorrect phrasing can turn off prospective partners.
The channel is typically very accepting of new companies with innovative ideas. On the flip side, some in our industry can be quite brutal if they perceive a vendor is playing both sides of the field (direct and indirect). If you intend to be a “channel-only” company, you’d better be sure your marketing and communications team gets that message and has the knowledge and experience to back it up.
Speak, Think and Sleep Channel Consistency means everything. Whether you’re building a new partner program or enhancing an existing one, be sure to pay close attention to the needs of your target audience. How will this news affect their business’ bottom line or their employee productivity? Does it boost their vertical expertise or make them heroes to their customers?
Every marketing message and press release should be directed their way ─ or at least not counteract your company’s channel efforts. That doesn’t mean you can’t mention the features and benefits for end users, but they should be positioned as attributes that help your partner sell those products or solutions to those particular customers. For example, channel-focused email vendors often highlight how their archiving capabilities can help partners support their legal and accounting firm clients, offering them a way to retrieve messages more efficiently. It should always be from the partner’s perspective.
Every vendor also has to create its own, unique message. Differentiation is a must for a company to stand out and gain traction in the channel, especially so if alternative products or services have been available previously. It’s not easy to get satisfied partners to take a chance on new vendors, let alone an upstart supplier, but if you can speak to a particular pain point or address an issue others don’t, the opportunities will come.
In order to make that happen, your PR strategy has to be consistent and the message must be accurate and spark potential partner interest. Most of all, you need a committed team of experienced channel professionals to pull it off successfully. It takes a high level of industry knowledge to connect with the players in this space; specialists who not only understand the acronyms and lingo, but who can make your message resonate loudly.
GetChanneled can help you make that happen, allowing your company capture the hearts and minds of prospective partners. We’ll start by developing a custom strategy and assembling the team that can support your specific PR needs.
Ready to start the conversation? Shoot me a message at Bsherman@GetChanneled.com