Channel Maven Consulting


Are Promotion Items Making an Impact with Channel Partners?

by channelmaven on April 3, 2014

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I loooove cool promotional items. SWAG, Gimmes, Promos…whatever you call them, if they are really cool, I’m going to do whatever I can to grab them at the show and bring them home to my collection.

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You’ll note there’s not a single standard pen, pencil, or post-it in this photo.  So what is it that truly makes a promo “cool”?  What makes it something I’m going to make sure I get before I leave the expo and keep for years to come?

Note: Want one of your promotional items added to Channel Maven’s collection and posted on social? Send it to: 1035 Pearl Street, 4th Floor, Boulder, CO 80304 and we’ll be sure to post it on our social and maybe even our blog!

Is it nostalgic? 

I saw this Rubik’s Cube from Sophos and had to have it! They offered me a very nice speaker’s gift after doing a session at their partner summit and, while I thanked them profusely, I also asked if I could have a Sophos’ Rubik’s Cube. Why? Because it reminds me of the first one I ever had when I was… well, let’s not go dating ourselves. The point is, this one stays on my desk and I see it all the time. Excellent way to remind partners and customers who you are and what you do. As you can see, I learned my lesson from the first one I ever had that I’m not very good at solving it so I never even played with it.

Is it cute, fun or entertaining?

The monkey in this photo actually has elastic tubing inside of him so if you hold his fingers, pull his tail and let go, he’ll sling-shot across a room. I’m not kidding—this thing gets air. The best part is when he lands: he makes this monkey-like noise. If that’s not a great way to break up a long workday, I don’t know what is!

Same with our pen from NetApp and sumo stress ball from Hitachi.Data Systems. Funny and functional, they make me smile when I look at them and I’m a big “fiddler” while I’m on the phone so both come in handy.

Is it useful?

I’m always excited to come across the next fun gadget that actually makes my life easier. The Microsoft mouse or USB extender is the perfect example. I also have an iPhone tripod I really liked using until it broke. The great thing about promotional items is you’re not heartbroken if you lose or break them. My favorite promo items are probably still the little tin of mints. It’s not new or cool, but talk about useful! There’s nothing worse than walking around a conference hall with lunch still on your breath.

So what does this mean to you?

Why should you bother?  Our friends at The Performance Group, a leading event management and experience company, make a really good point.  Dawn Witherspoon comments, “Event hosts can use gifts to promote their own conference.  One of our clients provides their partners with a yearly conference giveaway bag, and they’ve learned that other partners see the bag and ask how they can get invited – so it’s also about advertising next year’s event.”

As you’re thinking about which promotional items you should be ordering, sometimes it makes sense to spend a little more on ones that people will keep on their desk or will use for some time. Not good at this type of thing? Me either. That’s why I always call our buddy Max at Ellco Promotions, give him a sense of what our theme is, and he comes up with some creative ideas. Last year we helped the McAfee channel team pull off a very cool retro cocktail reception for partners including wristbands, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, and glow-in-the-dark drink mixers. Come to think of it, I never got my wristband!

As always, Channel Maven Consulting is here to help if you have questions for your partner summit or sales kickoff or topartners when you’re doing a booth at a trade show.

Let us know what cool promotional items you’ve discovered or used in the past.  Want to add to our collection and get a shout-out on social? Send your item to:

Channel Maven Consulting
1035 Pearl Street, 4th Floor
Boulder, CO 80302



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7 Social Media Tools You’re Not Using…But Should Be

by Channel Maven on March 25, 2014

Social media brings greater awareness to your organization, but it’s time-consuming and not always easy to fit in with the other business tasks you’re completing every day. To increase your social media reach, drive more engagement and save you precious time, here are 7 tools to add to your marketing tool-kit .

Increase Your Online Presence

Quora - Quora is a question and answer forum that relies on user-generated content like Wikipedia. If you are looking to be seen as an expert in your field, this is a great place to set yourself apart by answering questions thoughtfully. The goal here is to be helpful, not salesy.. If you are looking for specific information, Quora is one of the best places to ask a question.

LinkedIn Video  - In 2013, LinkedIn began rolling out the LinkedIn Professional Portfolio, which lets you showcase your professional achievements visually. You can upload images, videos, presentations and documents to the different sections of your profile in order to increase engagement and stand out from the crowd.

Get Noticed More

Buffer  – Want to know how your social media updates are performing? Then you need Buffer. This publishing tool sends your updates to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and while providing powerful built-in analytics. These analytics help determine which posts are working well and the best time to publish updates based on your followers’ viewing habits.

Canva - Research shows that people love visual content. Images add interest to text and increase the number of shares for blog posts, articles, eBooks, etc. Canva lets you add graphics to your content by customizing templates without the need for graphic design help.

Save Time

Feedly - Since the disappearance of Google Reader new RSS readers have entered the content aggregator space. One of the more straightforward, but well-designed options is Feedly. With Feedly you can subscribe to the RSS feeds of industry blogs and news sites to find content around topics that interest you and your target customer. It also provides an easy way to share information across your social media networks.

Flipboard - Touted as your own “personal magazine”, this app creates a beautiful layout for blogs, news sites and social profile feeds that you can “flip” through to read. Similar to Feedly, you can read sources you subscribed to or select from different topics.

Mention - This is one of the best tools to monitor your company’s presence on the web. You can track brand mentions or select keywords used in online forums, social media platforms, blogs and more. But, the real plus is being able to respond directly to the results you find.

These are some of our favorite tools for social. Do you agree? Are there additional social media or productivity tools you’d recommend? Let us know in the comments.

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Channel Maven Consulting Turns 5!

by channelmaven on March 8, 2014

In the hustle and bustle of moving to our new, bigger offices and hiring for 3 new positions the Channel Maven all but forgot the big birthday!  Channel Maven turned 5 years old on March 1st and we’d all like to take this opportunity to say Thank You!  In entrepreneurship years, 5 is like 15 (not quite dog years) and we couldn’t have done it without you.

Channel Maven Turns 5!

Channel Maven Turns 5!

Thank you to our clients who put their trust in us and bring us more of the work we love doing!

Thank you to everyone who reads our blog and gives us great feedback as to what you’d like to hear more about!

Thank you to our advocates who suggest us to colleagues and partners!

Thank you to our strategic partners who help us to expand our offerings and allow us to do the same!

Thank you to our Channel Maven team for making it a fun, invigorating place to work where we never stop learning!

At our 5 year birthday we have some pretty amazing things going on; new solutions, strategic partnership announcements, and some new team members to introduce…stay tuned for all the excitement.

Right now, I’d like to hear from all of you.  What would you like to hear more about on the blog? What would you like to see us doing more of?  Anyone who sends us a suggestion is entered to win one of three complimentary consultations where we’ll assess your channel program, communications plan, or your through partner marketing strategy.



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What is your Partner Journey?

by Heather K. Margolis on February 23, 2014

It must be in the air as lately we’re having a lot of conversations about partner journeys.  There has been talk about a customer journey but what exactly is a partner journey?  When your partners set out to do anything with your program, what is their experience?  What is the process?  Do they walk away with an understanding of what the benefit is to them? Are they able to accomplish their goals?

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I recently interviewed several partners about resources their vendors provide for them. When asked why they launched more business with a specific vendor over another, their answer was either “My Channel Account Manager navigates the process for me” or “Their portal is much easier to navigate and find what I need”.  How scary is that?  You could have the superior product, more market share, and a more robust channel team but if your portal is difficult to navigate you’re getting less partner engagement than your competition.

The Partner Journey

Whatever channel partners set out to do, whether it’s join your partner program, find something on the portal, customize content, or send an email from your marketing automation tool, each and every experience they have can be defined as a journey.  As you think of your partners’ journey, there are several questions to consider:  If you weren’t the architect behind many of their programs would YOU know how to navigate?  As you make your way through your resources, do they make sense?  Are they what partners want?  Are they going to help partners build their business?  Whether their journey is a good experience or a challenge is entirely up to you and your process for their journey.

What’s wrong with a challenging Partner Journey?

Some of you may think “So what? If my partners want my resources or want to work with us, they’ll jump through our hoops.”  While partners may not stomp their feet or stop doing business with you, it is making an impact.

Think of your own experience. When registering for something or eating at a nice restaurant, if the process is more difficult than it should be are you running back to do business with them again? I’m certainly not. I’ve gone so far as to not lease the same brand of car to avoid working with a difficult service department.

Creating a Successful Partner Journey

It’s hard to prescribe something because one size does NOT fit all but you should start by asking your partners what they need.  There’s nothing worse than creating a program in a bubble then proudly running to show your partners the shiny new program you made only to be shot down with dirty looks because it doesn’t support their business at all.  Show you understand their business by asking them before you create something.

The next step, which is probably going to be the most challenging, is to take an objective look at the process.  Envision yourself standing at the base of a trail. Does the journey look like it’s going to be straightforward and teach you things along the way or are you looking at the start of the Labyrinth movie and David Bowie is laughing at you trying to navigate your way?  (Did I just date myself?)

Ask your peers! Whether they’ve been through the process or not they can act as a partner would and try to navigate their way.  Do they get lost? Do they see the value?

Finally and most importantly ask your partners! Not just your advisory board! Ask an everyday, mom and pop, working out of the garage partner to navigate your process. Are they getting what they need?  If not, you need to reassess.

Let us be your objective voice. We’re always here to help even if it’s just to look at your current journey and say “oh yeah, that needs work” or “nicely done”.

How do you think your partner journey looks today?  Anything you’d like to share on the process?




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