As I sit here watching the Seahawks / Broncos Super Bowl I’m struck by how much each team fights for their win, image, and fans, much the way you need to fight for the mindshare of your channel partners. Isn’t it all about showing value and support? Okay maybe it’s a stretch but I need something positive to come out of this game and the commercials aren’t exactly doing the trick.
When you’re trying to recruit new partners, stay top-of-mind with current partners, or enable partners to market to customers, what are the key elements you need to keep in mind?
1. Rank your team; rank your partners
Much like we rank the teams in the NFL by their statistics, you rank your partners based upon what they’ve accomplished throughout the year. It’s important that partners understand what their “gap” is to get them to the next level. If they knew they’d get 10 more points of margin as soon as they sold another $XX in your solution they’d probably try harder to get there.
Also it’s important to note that your requirements can’t be counterintuitive to your partners’ businesses. If you require that they buy a $70,000 demo unit but they do all of their business virtually where they don’t really need a demo unit, it’s not going to make sense for them. They will be frustrated that they can’t get to that next level simply because they won’t buy the demo unit.
2. Keys to Communication
While I’m a huge football fan and even bigger Super Bowl fan another draw to the game are the commercials. What can we learn from Super Bowl commercials as it relates to communicating to your partners?
- You don’t want to bombard them with the message but a key to communication is to repeat your message so it resonates.
- You can’t send a newsletter about a new program and assume they are going to remember or that everyone is going to see it. You need to leverage social media, put it on your portal, and send it via email or newsletter.
- There’s a fine line between bombarding partners with too many communications so be respectful of the number of different things you talk about.
- Post it on social media as often as you want and use a newsletter to consolidate the amount of information.
Oh and taking another note from the Super Bowl ads, it’s okay to be funny or draw on emotion. Cheerios, Doritos, Volkswagen, and Budweiser have created anticipated and much-watched messages every year that get shared often via social media. That’s good buzz.
3. Cobranding may not be as important as we thought
Three years I would have said co-branded materials are as important to your partners as logoed gear is to the NFL. Your partners used to need help with executing emails, events, and campaigns. They still do, don’t get me wrong, but they may need help in different ways.
Some of your partners may have their own marketing automation tools and they just want your images and copy blocks. Other partners need more hands-on help walking them through step-by-step how to execute effective marketing. You might need to start at the foundation, not just kick-off a campaign before they have their feet under them. Bottom line, partners need more than an email where they can upload a logo.
4. Don’t Forget the Entertainment!
Probably the best part of the entire Super Bowl this year was the halftime show. Your partner summits or partner events are educational, a good time to reconnect with partners, and a place to get their feedback but also make sure they’re walking away talking about your event. Funny keynotes, evening entertainment, good food or all of the above lighten up the atmosphere and create an event your partners will remember. You don’t need Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers but something partners see as you going out of your way will go a long way to build a stronger relationship.
5. Admit when you Screw Up
I didn’t watch Peyton’s post Super Bowl press conference but I’m guessing he got in front of everyone and talked about what he and the team did wrong and what they will do to improve next year. If you’ve had challenges in the past or programs have flopped, let your partners understand what went wrong and what you’re doing to fix it.
These are a couple of my observations and comparisons. What other things are you doing to help your channel be successful? We’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback!