Channel Partners are pulled in many directions. They’re working with multiple Vendors across many solutions, tending to the needs of their customers, leading a team, and driving their business towards success; which usually means revenue growth. On the flip side, Vendors are vying for Partner mindshare and doing everything they can to make programs simple and profitable in hopes their Partners go to market with them. That’s today’s Channel.
If you think about it, everyone wants sales but in order to get there demand generation has to happen first. However, many Partners don’t fully understand the difference between demand generation and lead generation and how to leverage each. Vendors respond to this by offering marketing automation assets and social media and content syndication but education needs to happen first.
Partners need to understand what demand generation is, how it differs from lead generation and why the difference matters.
Demystify Demand generation:
In short, demand generation happens at the top of the funnel. It’s simply awareness building on a topic, product, solution, industry, or company.
Demystify Lead generation:
Lead generation is connecting awareness to your ability to solve problems and exchanging knowledge for contact information with the understanding that more information will follow.
Why the difference matters:
Many Channel Partners don’t have time to be ultra marketing savvy and in their minds, demand and lead generation are the same thing; revenue. In broad terms that’s true but in actuality, the difference is huge and if you’re expecting leads while executing demand generation strategy, the results won’t impress. As Vendors, it’s important to educate Partners on the differences so when they’re accessing your portal and assets, they know how to use them correctly.
A look at tactics:
Most marketing tactics that Channel Partners use have both demand and lead generation capabilities:
Social media for demand generation entails posting thought leadership articles related to a sector, product, company, or solution. The goal is to post information (yours and other’s) that brings awareness to a prospect’s need. It’s meant to bring top-of-the-funnel awareness to pains, solutions, and providers.
Social media for lead generation is more specifically tied to an organization and what they can do. It’s about Partners amplifying their own assets and encouraging connections to click-thru on landing pages where they trade contact information for middle-of-the-funnel conversions assets that will be sent later.
Partner social media tips: Social media syndication is typically demand generation. It’s meant for awareness and should be augmented with the Partners’ own landing pages and gated content to work for both lead and demand generation.
Content for demand generation is free. It can be self-served without giving away contact information but often has a call to action (CTA) pointing to some sort of lead generation tactic. For example, publishing a blog with a CTA to download an e-book.
Content for lead generation includes e-books, landing pages, opt-in email lists such as a newsletter sign-up, or other content sitting behind a form (also known as a “gate.”)
Partner content tips: Vendors spend a lot of time and resources creating assets for demand and lead generation. Vendor provided white papers, case studies, and e-books can be easily put behind a gate on a Partners’ website for lead gen. Content syndication from Vendors can be used to create social posts and deliver the free information to drive demand.
It’s difficult to capture leads without demand generation. Sure someone can arrive at a Channel Partner’s website but the fact that they got there to begin with has to do with SEO, social media or other demand generation tactics. Since demand begets leads, let’s start there.
3-key elements Channel Partners need to effectively drive demand:
Buyer personas. No way around if, if you don’t know whom you’re marketing to, there’s a great chance for failure. Personification is the process of analyzing common traits across customers from gender to age to region to job role and morphing them into one “persona” that encompasses the traits. Once a persona is crafted, it’s easier to create content and launch demand generation campaigns that succeed.
Provide value. This may seem obvious but the value coming from Channel Partners to their prospects has to map to solving pains, and personas help with that but it’s not the only thing that matters. Content, gated or free has to (HAS TO) be relevant and well written. It needs to answer questions, establish trust and create a sense of kinship with your brand.
Timing and measurement. It’s about delivering the right message at the right time. Sounds vague right? Right but that’s because every single situation is different and thus is why A/B testing and measurement is critical for demand generation. Partners need to understand their goals – is it website visits, followers, engagement, organic reach?
In the end, we find it’s the Vendors who are focusing programs on ease of business and educating and assisting Channel Partners on go-to market strategy that are growing Channel revenue.