Increasing sales is the top priority for all businesses. Sales professionals drool when they hit their sales quota early. Companies offer early bonuses and parties when they hit their quarterly sales quotas. Do you get the point? Right? It is all about sales, sales, and sales. But sales can only be generated when the marketing is effective. Without impactful Marketing, there will be few sales. Marketing is a vast topic covering many sub-branches, and one size fits all does not apply in marketing. Consistently delivering results is a challenge for any marketing professional; there are too many variables to keep in check. Branding, Effective communication, marketing, and sales strategy are just a few essential pillars to start your marketing. Channel marketing is effective for many reasons, but the primary reason is that you focus on specific channels to drive sales and not hop on different fads and experiments.
Define Channel Marketing
Channel marketing is the process of recruiting partners to sell your product/service to the end-user. A partner can sometimes is also known as a vendor.
Type of companies that implement Channel Marketing
There are many types of companies that use channels to market their product and services effectively. Some of the popular type of companies are:
- Electronics Manufacturing Companies
- Mobile Manufacturing Companies
- Furniture Companies
- Mattress Companies
Television companies are a perfect example of using channels to drive sales. They recruit dealers and distributors to sell their TVs. These dealers are spread across multiple continents and countries. Companies that manufacture mobile such as Apple, Samsung, Huawei all use distributors and dealers to sell their mobiles.
Types of vendor relationship
Different types of relationships are created with vendors, and they have their specific names and functions.
A master distributor is given an exclusive territory to make sales, recruit dealers, resellers and open multiple storage warehouses as they deem fit. This type of partnership is “creme de la creme” of partnerships because master distributors have exclusive access, territory, control, pricing, and bonuses. Example:
A popular car detailing company in the US, Element 119, has a famous brand called “System X.” They sell ceramic coating, detailing equipment, and solutions worldwide. They have multiple master distributors that handle multiple countries for them exclusively.
Master distributors recruit dealers through advertisements and networking. Dealers are provided training, marketing material, and stocks from the master distributor.
Retailers directly sell the products to end-users. They get the products from dealers, and sometimes retailers are the partners that make the most ROI/sale. However, their volume might not be as significant as a dealer.
When selling products and services online, the brand runs an affiliate program that offers marketing material, massive commissions/sales, and quantity-based higher commissions for affiliate marketers. A dedicated affiliate/account manager is provided to affiliate marketers to offer support and motivate them to sell more of their products and services. Many companies run monthly, quarterly, yearly exclusive offers and higher commissions to lure affiliate marketers. Many companies also promote their affiliate program in multiple events throughout the year in the hope of getting more affiliate marketers on board.
How to create Channel Marketing Strategy
Set your goals
Goal setting should be your first step by default; setting up goals on what you want to achieve is paramount to your success. You have to know your destination to reach there; although you might not see the whole path, you have to know what you need. You have to answer some tough questions before you proceed with the channel marketing strategy.
- What are you trying to achieve with multiple marketing channels?
- List specific channels; write their pros/cons and your goal.
- What do you need to make it a success with every marketing channel?
- How will you measure the success of each marketing channel?
- What is your team members’ defined role, and how will they contribute to a marketing channel’s success?
Know your customer
Some might say knowing your customer is half the battle won! Learning about your customer is a critical step of the strategy. Unless you know your customer, their passion, needs, wants, where they hang out, and their behavior, you will be lost like a headless goat. Example:
Enablix is a small company with rivals that can easily be called goliaths of the “sales enablement” industry. We know that our core customer is marketing teams, explicitly marketing leaders of small(50 person company) to medium(1000 person company) Hence, it becomes easy to target specific people when we do our online advertising and build personas. Marketers should perform considerable research to know about their customer. Some of the typical starting points to learn more about your customer are:
- Reading industry journals
- Visiting industry events
- Keeping tabs on the competition
- Previous experience in the same industry
- Doing surveys
Research your competition
Learning about your competition’s history, current work, and plans will help you plan your marketing strategy.
A simple google alert will get you started. For advanced research, you can subscribe to premium tools such as the similarweb/follow chrome plugin. Read about simplifying competitive analysis to drive sales and growth
Adapt to new realities
Covid-19 gave us a new perspective on how life could change drastically, and we really can’t fight mother nature and Chinese dragons. Work from home(WFH) Has become the new normal since 2020. Most of us had to adjust to this reality and work from home. I have to admit that many of us have become comfortable working at home in our boxers. The reality will hit again when the companies call back all of their employees to their offices; the adjustment cycle will begin again. In business and life, we are met with numerous challenges that we face for the first time; confusion and chaos are imminent for those that are not prepared. “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”
Give what your customer wants
“You are not listening to me.” Have you heard this phrase in movies or personally? Sometimes we get too focused on what we want to do and how things should be; we don’t listen to what the customer says. According to CNBC
, Aeropostale was once bringing billions in annual sales. Aeropostale lost its cool factor because they never listened to their customers. They kept doing what they thought their customers wanted (t-shirt with Aeropostale logo). Not all teens want to look alike and show off the Aeropostale logos; Individualism is a thing…remember? Soon, other players exploited the situation, and Aeropostale was too late to respond.
How to choose channel marketing partners
I know a man who was depressed because of his nasty divorce; he spent close to 6 months alone without doing anything. One day as he was walking, he found an automobile garage. The technician was applying a ceramic coating to the car, which excited him to inquire about it. After several weeks of research, he got hold of an international company’s stock. He convinced many new car buyers to get the ceramic coating. He partnered up with the car garage and provided the service to many new car owners. After six months, he ordered 50k USD stock direct from the manufacturer; that got the manufacturer’s attention. He was just one guy without any experience in the automobile detailing business. Today, he handles master distributorships for multiple countries. So, to answer the question of how to choose a channel marketing partner, it depends. If you go by the textbook answer, you will have to look for a trustable company, previous track record, financial standing, experience, and education of your partner/vendor. Example:
For an FMCG company, choosing a partner comes with many pre-requisites. A partner should have good financial standing, experience with logistics, and hiring experience. For a software company that is looking for partners, the pre-requisites are less. You can satisfy your needs with an affiliate marketer who might have less than one-year promoting software experience. Finding people on social media has become relatively easy. Pitching partnership ideas to qualified contacts should be your first step. Using LinkedIn ads, newspaper ads, and sponsoring a podcast can be some of the ways to recruit your marketing partner.
- To create lasting partnerships, make sure you have a marketing plan that creates traction and sales.
- Marketing should make an impact and deliver the message at the right time to its audience.
- What worked for the brand will not work for the brand forever.
- Research your competition, don’t try to reinvent the wheel; start with what works best for everyone.
- Listen to your customers and make changes, don’t be rigid.