Channel Marketing Now: A 360° View
Marketing, for years the bane of channel partners, continues to evolve, encouraging more partners to take control of their marketing destiny.
Yet, channel marketing still faces numerous challenges – shrinking budgets, less market development funding (MDF), resource constraints – and the perception of marketing as a cost center rather than a revenue generator.
A panel of marketing experts – Tasha Klares, director of marketing at Force3; Kathryn Rose, senior advisor, Achieve Unite; Gina Kennedy-Toney, vice president at Fusion; and Ted Gilvar, chief marketing officer at Vonage – will bring their unique perspectives to the marketing struggles partners face and offer advice on how to prioritize marketing time and dollars during “Channel Marketing Now: A 360° View,” part of the Business Success Symposium at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, April 17-20, in Las Vegas.
What do channel partners need to know about the current state of marketing and how to optimize resources? Channel Partners/Channel Futures chatted with three of the panelists for insight.
Channel Partners/Channel Futures: Let’s start by shining light on some of the marketing challenges that plague partners.
Tasha Klares: Shrinking budgets, less MDF … these are not new challenges in the channel; however, they’re becoming more apparent as there’s more of an onus from a VAR perspective to get things funded from MDF and to run your marketing organization around the shrinking MDF budgets from manufacturers.
So that means that partners have to figure out other ways to market their businesses. However, when things like social and other avenues come into play, they’re far less costly.
Another challenge partners face is changing the perception of what marketing can bring to the business and allowing marketing to have a seat at the table.
Gina Kennedy-Toney: I see the challenges of marketers as one of resources. Many partners don’t have dedicated marketing resources, with some folks wearing two or three hats. And the skill set of that person may be lacking. So how do they get their message out there? What platform will they use? The other [challenge], of course, is always going to be budget.
CP/CF: So there are challenges when it comes to marketing, but gains are being made as well, right?
GKT: We are seeing the next generation of partners make marketing more of a priority. I think “transitioning” is a great term in how these partners are changing. I also think there are a lot of suppliers out there that offer marketing assistance, and use their marketing departments to provide that assistance to partners.
CP/CF: Kathryn, your perspective on marketing is a bit different. How do you assess the marketing challenges partners face?
Kathryn Rose: Yes, I come at this from a different perspective. My background is as a marketing consultant and I did business development for a marketing automation platform for the channel. But I have worked with many channel marketing people. I’d say the marketing challenges of the day are similar to what they’ve always been, which is if you’re [a vendor] trying to sell a product through another entity, you need them to come on board and adopt your value proposition and push your messages out.Today, it’s not like the partner has a vendor logo on their website or has a sticker in their window saying, “I’m a valued partner.” The logos of the vendors are becoming less important and the MSPs are marketing themselves as the solution and often want to be vendor-agnostic.
CP/CF: Why should partners attend the upcoming session on channel marketing?
TK: They’ll hear from versed marketing experts from different areas of the channel. For example, I’m in the federal space and there are a lot of nuances that marketers need to be educated on to be successful. For example, how do customers buy? You also have to be educated on mandates, the federal government budget cycle, and compliance and regulation. Other vertical markets have their own nuances, and learning about your market will go a long way.
If you have any of the top three marketing challenges – budget constraints, time and resources, and the need to evolve your marketing organization – I’d say [those are] reasons to come hear these panelists.
GKT: Attendees will see that they’re not alone. This session will give them a basic understanding of where they can find resources, and what some of the key things are they can do to monetize their customer base and grow it through marketing strategies.