Many companies I’ve spoken with recently are looking for new ways to approach channel marketing or partner marketing.
Based on my experience as an advocate marketing advisor at Influitive working with numerous companies that want to take their channel marketing to the next level, here’s what I recommend: If your company sells its products or services through partners, you probably spend a good deal of time and effort on channel marketing and engagement. Advocate marketing is a huge opportunity to better engage those partners.
First let me define advocate marketing. Then I’ll explain why it can be incredibly effective for updating your channel marketing strategy.
In a nutshell, advocate marketing is the act of tapping into the enthusiasm of your best and most passionate customers, fans and evangelists to generate everything from social media reviews and customer referrals to case studies and references. It can also be used to enable your partners to better sell on your behalf and for you to better understand how to help your partners succeed.
Here are a few examples of how:
Empower partners with knowledge. Using advocate marketing software, you can make information about your products and services readily available to your partners. This helps them more easily get and stay up to speed on your offerings, and instills you with confidence about their knowledge.
Ensure engagement. Vendors often struggle to effectively communicate with channel partners on an ongoing basis. By driving them to a centralized hub where they can access content, rather than dozens of emails, links and documents scattered across the web, you encourage consistent engagement.
Help partners tap into social media. You can also use advocate marketing software to jump-start your partners’ involvement in relevant discussions happening in social media channels. This helps them boost their visibility and elevate their social media standings while keeping you top of mind with them and potential customers.
Gain insight into the field. When you sell through the channel, it can be tough to find out how end users truly feel about your products or services. The relationship your organization has with its partners – and the revenue you generate together – means your partners are more motivated than your customers when it comes to interacting with your organization. By using advocate marketing software, you can get partners to complete surveys that provide you with insight into what’s truly happening in the your market or industry.
Track channel marketing engagement. Advocate marketing software allows you to track partner activity. You’ll know, for example, whether or not partners downloaded your latest content assets. Our customers are finding this more effective than sending an email and wondering if their partners even took the time to read it.
Example: Mitel Champions
In fact, many companies already use advocate marketing to engage the channel. And in doing so, they reap numerous rewards. Take the example of Mitel, a global leader in business communications. By inviting its partners to participate in advocate marketing activities through the Mitel Champions program, the company saw them sharing content on social networks and opting in for customer success marketing initiatives.
According to Liz Pedro, Director of Customer Success Marketing at Mitel, this adds even more credibility to the company’s story.
“At Mitel, partners are critical to the success of our business. When we rolled out Mitel Champions, we knew we wanted to include them. Mitel Champions is a great way to keep partners informed about strategic initiatives and news,” Liz explains. “In addition, it allows partners to easily share Mitel content and messages on social media with one click. Lastly, it’s a great engagement tool and fun for them too!”
What’s in it for your partners?
You may think it’s a big ask of your partners to take part in your advocate marketing program, but the reality is they will likely be eager to jump on board. Here’s why.
Provides motivation. Your partners know that they can generate more revenues when they educate themselves about your products and services. By making it easier for them to take advantage of your product and industry insights, you increase the chances that they’ll shore up their own knowledge stores.
Positions them as leaders. By feeding your partners up-to-date content and highlighting their successes in case studies, you help them establish a reputation as leaders in their space. This leads to more visibility for your partners, which benefits you and your partners.
Affords opportunities to network. By inviting your channel partners to participate in your advocate marketing hub, you make them part of a community. Partners can mentor one another, see each other’s successes, and share their insights on your channel program and how to graduate to new levels. Their participation also makes it easier for you to identify holes in their product or service knowledge so you can take measures to fill the gaps.
Here’s how Mitel answers the “What’s in it for you?” question in the Mitel Champions invitation email the company sends to its partner:
- Stay informed about strategic Mitel initiatives and news.
- Easily share Mitel content/messages on social media (“ONE click” easy).
- Earn points for your efforts and redeem for great rewards.
- Most importantly, it’s a great way to have fun while competing with your peers!
Because advocate marketing is still relatively new, few companies are harnessing it when it comes to channel engagement. And that gives you a huge advantage. After all, your partners are likely selling products and services on behalf of other vendors too. By engaging them with advocate marketing, you’ll distinguish your organization from all the others while developing a strong relationship with your partners.
Remember, when it comes right down to it, partners ally with you because they see an opportunity to increase revenue. By participating in your advocate program, they can make more revenue because they’ll be gaining the knowledge and connections they need to sell more of your products and services.
Reach out to me to learn more about how an advocate marketing program can help you better engage your partners.