My previous post discussed five of what I believe to be the 10 must-try channel growth hacks of 2015. They incorporate technology I'm sure you're well-familiar with but haven't utilized for one reason or another. But this is the year when we put that technology to work for us.
So without further ado, here are my other five must-try growth hacks:
6. Put Your Social Activities into Context
Social media is no longer the “new” platform and has proven not to be the utopia that was once promised. That said, social is very important and is a core platform for communicating with the channel. It is a place to amplify content, handle real-time conversations and extend branding and promotion.
Running a mix of five to six social platforms as part of your overall communication strategy is important. Social media will provide a place where you can listen to your partners, engage on a different level and interact in real time.
7. Educate Your Partners—Stop Selling Them
Content marketing is becoming one of the most important tools for recruiting and nurturing your channel. Finding your brand voice and sharing your domain knowledge with your partners on a consistent basis will build trust and keep them plugged in.
When combined with No. 6 above, a solid piece of content will amplify itself across numerous channels and give multiple ways to repurpose throughout the time period.
As the old saying goes, you can't kid a kidder. So stop selling your best salespeople. Strong content—especially technical in nature—will go a long way to driving attention.
8. Re-invigorate Your Press Strategy
Much like communities in No. 5 of my previous post, the channel media have cultivated strong followings across multiple vehicles.
Many vendors look at the media as a source of advertising and not much else. However, over the past number of years, industry media have been forced to expand their offerings and deliver more value to their readers and sponsors. Getting access to their community of readers through co-marketing, sharing your updates and content, webinars, events and newsletters can be a very effective way to reach your established and prospective audience.
It also can be surprisingly cost-effective with the right level of negotiation, time commitment and bundling.
9. Go Back to the Basics: Direct Mail
Yes, I said it. Direct mail!
Most companies have abandoned direct mail over the past few years as the number of marketing vehicles has exploded.
Depending on the size of your channel, sending physical mail to partners can be a cost-effective way to connect. Keep in mind the average age of channel professionals has grown every year since the 1980s and this demographic tends to prefer face-to-face, mail and phone calls to electronic communication.
Sending out innovative and useful sales kits can be done for only a few dollars per partner (or prospect) and may cost less than attending a trade show. Plus, you can achieve a high open rate and your competitors are likely not doing it.
10. Double Down on Trade Shows
Many vendors I talk to look at trade shows as an industry "tax"—it is an area where a lot of opportunity (and money) is wasted.
Some of the common errors include:
- Paying for platinum status without getting much more than a "logo on a page" in return
- Paying for a breakfast/lunch/party and getting small signage that no one notices
- Thinking that booth hours are where the real action happens, when the real action usually happens in the hallways and the hotel lobby bar late at night
- Not having a plan covering pre-show, show-within-the-show and post-show tactics
- Spending too much money on trinkets and giveaways
- Not having a visible leader in your business that can seek out the media, develop strategic partnerships, and recruit based on reputation alone
The vendors that take advantage of the trade show circuit by avoiding most of these pitfalls report it is their No. 1 way to grow channel revenue.
It all comes down to recruiting the right partners, developing current partners to be stars and taking top-performing partners to the next level.
Happy New Year and good luck in 2015!
Jay McBain is co-founder and CMO of ChannelEyes, a mobile platform designed to change the way vendors communicate, educate and engage with their VARs and channels.