• Digital marketing programs continue to be the biggest investment area for marketing program spend
  • Suppliers must help partners through the digital marketing transformation
  • Digital marketing certification can play a significant part in upskilling your partners and driving the transformation

We’ve all heard many buzzwords in channel marketing over the years – “big data,” “content syndication,” “social syndication,” “Internet of Things (IoT).” But today, a lot of the buzz I’m hearing is around “the digital marketing transformation.”

While many suppliers have made this transformation themselves through their own demand programs and tactics, they’re now looking for their partner ecosystems to transform as well. Keep in mind that many partners don’t have the resources or capabilities to perform this transformation on their own, and they will need help to get there. This is not an overnight change, however – helping partners through their digital marketing transition requires a carefully thought-out and planned approach.

It used to be simple to provide partners with digital assets, like an email for delivery to an entire customer base or a Web banner for display on the partner’s or an external site – one message communicated to all buyers. But if you stop and think about your organization’s digital marketing, you know that those days are long gone, and you need to help your partners improve their digital marketing capabilities.

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Provide partners with digital campaigns and content that align to the buyer’s journey stages (education, solution and selection), demand type (new concept, new paradigm and established market), and buyer personas, and help them understand how best to serve it to enable their successful transformation. They must understand the digital influences that affect today’s buyers, the changes in the buyer’s journey, and the significant role that digital content now plays much earlier in the sales cycle and directly with the buyer, often long before direct partner sales engagement. Partners cannot be expected to change this content by themselves.

Within your organization, you know what inbound and outbound digital tactics and content work; you know which emails, social posts, search ads and display ads are successful. Now you need to start building your through-partner marketing programs leveraging these insights and content, and prescriptively guide partners – sharing best practices and enabling them to achieve the same success.

Before developing any enablement programs, marketing training certifications or digital content assets, gather data by profiling your partners about their existing digital marketing capabilities. Partners will be at various stages of the transformation, with varied digital marketing abilities, and suppliers need to know what gaps or upskill requirements are essential so that partner marketing enablement programs can be tailored and adapted to focus on the weaker areas.

But it’s not just about providing digital assets and hoping your partners know exactly how to use them to drive leads. Developing digital partner marketing certification curricular and training programs to help partners understand what you know about the buyer’s journey, how buyers consume your digital content, and the role partners can play is a key ingredient to quickly and effectively driving partner marketing transformation. You can learn more about the importance of marketing certification in our blog post titled “Marketing Certification: The Missing Ingredient in Partner Enablement.”

And don’t forget your own channel organization! Any marketing training you make available to your partners should also be made available internally – and completed. Upskilling your internal teams is critical to ensuring that your own resources have the same level of skill as your partners so that they can provide support.

Now that you’ve told your partners what they need to do, enlightened them about the role digital marketing plays in the buyer’s journey and created the digital content they need, you’ll need to know how to deliver this content to partners in the most efficient way. You can’t assume that posting these great new digital marketing assets on a marketing resource portal is going to be enough to help your partners then go out and execute.

Consider how you share your programs and what tools you provide to your partners today, and ask yourself: 

  • Does my organization have the correct tools and technology in place to help partners quickly and effectively make the digital transformation?
  • Has my organization provided persona-based content aligned to the buyer’s journey that partners can use?
  • Is my organization doing everything possible to make the transformation easier for partners? 

If you answered no to any these questions, start assessing what steps you need to take, and in what order, to help your partners make their digital marketing transformation.

To learn more about channel marketing and management, join us this month at Summit in Nashville!