As most countries move from the Covid-19 pandemic to endemic, restrictions in the corporate environment are beginning to loosen. While some countries have lifted all restrictions, others are taking a precautionary approach by continuing to limit capacity. Many organizations announced that employees could work from home ‘forever‘. While others embraced ‘hybrid‘ working giving employees the flexibility to work from home or the office. In this “new normal”, partner marketing will no longer be the same.
As such, marketing leaders need to adapt to rebuild lasting relationships with channel partners and customers. Thus, there is a need to redefine partner marketing and rethink marketing’s execution in the new normal.
3 Guidelines for Partner Marketing in the New Normal
1. Partner marketing events should embrace a ‘hybrid‘ model too
Traditionally, partner events were in-person and highly engaging to promote loyalty within the ecosystem. During the pandemic lock-downs, vendors pivoted their engagement online to continue to update partners on the latest and greatest. While vendors are now eager to bring partners back to live events, they should give the flexibility and options to participate via online platforms.
Nevertheless, zoom fatigue is ‘real.’ Vendors should look at ways to engage the online audience as they would a ‘live‘ audience using tools such as live Q&A, breakout rooms and polls to drive participation and interactions.
With the online model, networking became something that partners missed. Therefore, consider platforms that allow community-building pre and post the event. Enable partners to request connections and appointments with key stakeholders, leaders and product specialists. Along with connecting to other participating partners, to promote both collaboration and engagement.
Finally, make the content available on-demand after the event as they serve as great assets for ongoing digital content and social marketing.
2. New Ways of Communicating to Partners and Customers
For a long time, marketing online was about reaching a wide target audience, getting the maximum number of impressions and click-throughs, and hoping to convert to leads. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital channels as a medium to both assess information and engage with brands. At the same time, such information can become ‘noise‘ and disruption in the marketplace. This need to be heard above the noise gave rise to Digital Content Marketing as a new way of communicating to partners and customers.
Digital Content Marketing takes a publishing approach, which involves identifying the target audience, followed by the content that meets their needs. If vendors are looking at recruiting new partners, instead of delivering messages that talk about how great the brand is, understand the business objectives and challenges of the prospect partner. These may differ by partner types, and therefore important to deliver content on how your brand can address their needs and overcome those challenges.
Similarly, vendors should develop Digital Content Marketing that helps existing partners identify and address their customers’ pain points. This ensures targeted content to derive high-quality sales leads and opportunities.
3. Collaborative Marketing
In an ideal world, partners would leverage vendors’ marketing campaigns and assets and market the brand to their customer base. However, when every local market is faced with unique conditions, requirements and challenges, targeted marketing can be a daunting task. Especially for partners who represent and resell multiple brands and solutions. While listening to and engaging the partner ecosystem is key, providing them with highly targeted, customizable and scalable marketing solutions, that can be easily executed via a marketing automation platform and a concierge program, will ensure partner success and loyalty in the long run.
Partners benefit from the ability to deliver their customized marketing experiences easily, efficiently and at a very low cost. Vendors may offer varying amounts of funding and, in turn, influence the partners on how the brand wants the marketing done in the local market while ensuring consistent brand messages.