Audience. It’s one of the most frequent things business professionals fail to learn and understand. Many simply forget or lose touch with their target customers as they get busy dealing with the issues that come along as their organization grows and evolves. It takes a lot of time and hard work to create and maintain the connection between vendors and partners.
What many fail to remember is that when not done well, corporate messaging can actually hinder their marketing activities. Severing or never establishing that connection between partners, clients, and prospective customers causes many IT businesses to wither on the vine and die.
In the channel, effective messaging is especially critical. As vendors, you need to understand the needs of your primary audience ‒ typically MSPs, VARs, and other providers ‒ as well as the end customers who ultimately consume your products and services. Conveying the proper message to a channel audience isn’t easy and enabling partners with the right resources to reach their clients and prospects complicates the process.
A comprehensive and well-designed content strategy will help you address those issues. That takes time and dedicated resources, but most tech firms already have many of the core competencies and activities in place. The hard part? Identifying your primary audience ‒ and then honing your corporate message to attract and keep their attention.
We’ll cover that process in greater depth in the coming months (feel free to contact the GetChanneled team for more details now). Once you identify a target audience, be sure to take these four other steps to connect your organization with the MSP/VAR community.
1. Build a dynamic website
Where else will prospective channel partners learn more about your company? A website is valuable real estate today, so be sure every page consistently conveys the proper message. An effective channel-focused online presence drives engagement and encourages prospects to call, email, respond via chat or fill out a brief form to get the conversation started. It’s also a digital content repository and landing site, hosting articles (i.e., news, blogs and media mentions) and videos.
The main page strategy is critical. The crucial “line of sight” section must establish your company’s channel value proposition, and the navigation should be intuitive. Dropdowns and links should provide prospective partners with enough information to spark their interest (enough to call or email for more). Most importantly, the website is the best place to tell your story and establish the brand.
So, be sure you’re delivering an engaging and satisfying user experience ‒ and update the pages regularly. Automation is your friend. Select a dynamic website template that rotates images and promotions, and pulls in blog articles and press releases, as well as feeds from other relevant sources.
2. Develop and promote quality content
How does a vendor best convey its channel value proposition? Most companies do a great job of explaining what they do in person but fail to support that message with dynamic content such as blogs, videos, and infographics. Be sure to provide prospects and partners with a continual stream of material to peak interest and encourage engagement. Emphasize your company’s ability to help MSPs like theirs take advantage of innovative ideas. Your content strategy, when done well, will drive a variety of new sales and partnering opportunities.
Reminder: the articles you share on social media and link to on your website don’t always have to originate from your team. Look for complementary content from industry thought leaders and experts in areas that interest your target audience, especially when they reinforce your company’s value proposition. Social sharing is typically free, but it’s a good idea to get permission from authors or the sponsoring organization before posting material from others on your site (follow copyright rules).
3. Employ effective SEO methodologies
Search optimization is a necessary evil in today’s business environment. If your company isn’t ranking high on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines, it sends the wrong message to prospects and partners. Not only does a low ranking make it harder to find information on your channel program, but it creates questions about your business commitment and marketing capabilities.
An effective SEO plan includes a steady stream of relevant content, as well as a substantial social media presence to help boost its online visibility. The good news? If your company doesn’t have a channel-experienced writer and content marketing specialist in-house, organizations like GetChanneled can help. Do your homework. Find experts who understand and can connect with the MSP and VAR audience. That’s a unique skill among content marketing professionals that isn’t easy to teach.
4. Listen socially
Is your company actively engaged with its online audience? Are you listening and encouraging discussions with prospects, customers, and other stakeholders? If not, you need a more strategic social media plan. That includes paying attention to competitors as much as your MSP audience, giving your team a more comprehensive view of the business landscape and issues in your industry segment.
Watch what those influencers say and do online and pay close attention the tactics employed by thought leaders, competitors, and consumers. Follow others social media posts and blogs to get more in tune with the channel and set aside time each day to keep up with industry-related news (set Google Alerts for companies and key terms).
The channel is an extremely competitive place, especially for emerging cloud and app vendors. You’ll need a lot more than an expression of commitment to gain traction; those claims must be backed up with solid products, services, and support.
MSPs and VARs won’t pay much attention to vendors that don’t have all those elements firmly in place. An effective content strategy takes it from there, conveying your value proposition to the right audience to generate more targeted leads, stronger partnerships, and real revenue opportunities.