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Most technology companies offer co-marketing, co-branding and MDF programs to help channel partners jointly market a product and services value proposition. But if you're a technology vendor, there is a fundamental shift in the types of marketing resources your partners need. It involves social media. Here's the problem -- and some recommendations. First here are three reasons why co-marketing is so important:

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Co-Marketing Dollars: Partner Programs Meet Social Media

Most technology companies offer co-marketing, co-branding and MDF programs to help channel partners jointly market a product and services value proposition. But if you’re a technology vendor, there is a fundamental shift in the types of marketing resources your partners need. It involves social media. Here’s the problem — and some recommendations.

First here are three reasons why co-marketing is so important:

  1. While your corporate marketing teams are spending oodles of time and money getting your messages out to the masses your partners can increase that reach to their current and future prospects exponentially.

  2. Partners prefer to sell what’s easy to sell. That means what they best understand technically AND which have resources committed to demand generation.

  3. We all know loyalty doesn’t really exist anymore but you will certainly be at the top of a partner’s product list if you are investing in their business.

So, what’s the problem with co-marketing programs? You’ve heard me talk about social media and how important it is for the channel here, here, and here. It’s even more important to help your partners leverage social media to drive demand.

Here is how social media should shift your co-marketing campaigns:

1. LinkedIn should play a huge part in any campaign you are funding. Do your partners know how to use it? Make sure you have the resources to hand them so they can post out events, promotions, email campaigns through LinkedIn. It can be a webinar or a “how-to” guide but it has to be something they can use over and over again.

2. Twitter may not be for everyone but if some of your partners are using it, show them how to better use it to get the word out about an event, campaign, survey, webcast they are doing. It starts with building 2-way conversations so tell them about twitter early and often, not the day of launch.

3. SEO (search engine optimization) plays a huge role when prospects are searching for a product, service, problem solver on Google or Bing which is well, just about all the time. 91% of IT decision makers will search for a product even if they know what they need before purchasing. So how can you help? Let your partners use MDF to pay for an SEO and/or social media consultant.

4. Facebook, in my opinion is not a great B2B tool but if your partners are selling direct to customers they should absolutely have a guide similar to those on LinkedIn and Twitter to show them how to use it correctly.

5. Training provides partners with tools they can continue to use for each and every campaign they do. There are a ton of programs and people out there who can teach your partners to leverage social media the RIGHT way.

If your co-marketing mindset doesn’t include social media strategies involving your partners then it’s time for you to evolve.

Contributing blogger Heather K. Margolis, the Channel Maven, has led channel programs for major IT companies. Follow The VAR Guy via RSS; Facebook; Identi.ca; Twitter; and via his Newsletter; Webcasts and Resource Center. Plus, visit www.VARtweet.com.

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About the Author(s)

Heather K. Margolis

Heather K. Margolis, a self proclaimed “recovering channel professional,” founded Channel Maven in early 2009. Heather is passionate about enabling vendors and their channel partners to drive more business through their channel programs. Having led channel programs for companies like EMC, EqualLogic and Dell, Heather helps channel organizations of all sizes build smarter channel programs, manage channel relationships to find added value, and engage their communities through social and traditional media. Heather regularly speaks to manufacturer and channel partner audiences about getting the most from social and traditional media. She also speaks to a variety of audiences about entrepreneurship, building a service business, and B2B strategy.

A proud alum of Babson’s MBA program, Heather grew up in Massachusetts and now calls beautiful Boulder, Colorado, home where she and her husband (and dog Zoe) can be found hiking, foodie-ing, or attempting to tear up the slopes.

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