One of the easiest ways to scale your business—and earn more revenue with less effort than it takes to build new products—is to work with channel partners. Doing so allows you to offer new products and services to your past, current, and future customers.

The trick to making these types of partnerships successful is to build a solid channel partner marketing plan—a strategy for two companies to collaborate on selling or marketing services, products, or technologies.

Channel partners can include value-added resellers, managed service providers, systems integrators, distributors, IT consultants, and affiliate partners.

Benefits of Partnership Marketing

Partnership marketing has many benefits, including the following:

  • Broader reach and wider networks: When your company works with a channel partner, you are, in essence, partnering with its partners and users, thus growing their and your network in the process.
  • Building brand trust: When your company receives an endorsement from a trusted and well-known partner in the industry, it helps build your brand's trust while giving you credibility in your niche.
  • Express testing: Working with a channel partner gives a company a quick way to experiment with marketing campaigns, products, promotions, and customer audiences in a less risky environment.
  • Improved revenue: Additional revenue is perhaps the biggest benefit, and it's what leads most businesses to consider partnership marketing. Simply by gaining a new offering for your customers, you can improve your bottom line.

Considerations for a Solid Channel-Partner Marketing Strategy

The potential benefits of a channel partnership are clear. To improve the chances of your channel partnership marketing plan's success, take the following six actions.

1. Obtain useful data on company products and services

In addition to knowing how to sell different types of products effectively, channel partners need to know more about the products/services they will be adding to their offerings.

Your partner should bring your company up to speed so you can market the products effectively. You know how your business works, and how you sell to your own customers. Now, you need to know your partner's business—what's performing well already and how to integrate it into your messaging and marketing.

The information your channel partner provides should also include their unique vision of the marketing and selling process. Who are their target customers? How do they position their brand and products to meet customer needs?

When everyone understands the products and target audiences, it's easier to come up with a better partnership marketing strategy.

2. Stick to brand guidelines

Don't forget about your own guidelines for branding when you start working with a channel partner. In other words, you're independent from your partner as a business owner, and you need to maintain your own brand.

Respect your partner's branding guidelines, sure; however, you've already carved a niche for yourself, and your audience has certain expectations for how you will serve them.

Figure out how to best include your channel partner's most successful marketing strategies without throwing out your own branding book.

3. Get clarification on how product marketing will work

Your channel partner needs to know how you are selling their products and services. Accordingly, they will likely want to keep an eye on your activities to make sure you're not hyping their offerings or using unethical business practices to land sales.

Transparency is important. Allow them to give feedback and tell you what they expect from your company. They may have been in the game longer than you and so may be able to give you insights and ideas for securing more customers.

4. Receive training and tools

Good channel partners will give you the training and tools you need to have the best chance of success. They will teach you everything you need to know about their offerings so you can convey that information to prospective customers.

If they have a means of collecting marketing performance analytics and an easier way to deploy marketing assets, ask them for their guidance on the best tools to use.

Also ask about how they would prefer you to handle paid advertising, too. Your partner may have training and tools that can help you maximize your success in that area of selling as well.

5. Leave room to customize

Your partnership marketing strategy and plan should not be too rigid. You will need to adapt to the market, making changes as needed to ensure more sales.

Though you should get as much of your marketing plan in writing as possible, also add an addendum regarding your marketing strategy that gives you the freedom to make changes, such as using videos instead of blog posts, or switching from Facebook to LinkedIn for your promotions.

6. Assess your results

The most important part of a solid channel partner marketing plan is results assessment. Set goals, measure results, and create assessment reports of your progress.

Tracking and reporting give you proof when changes need to be made, and they can set the stage for realigning or altering marketing strategies completely.

What are you waiting for?

Channel partnerships can be profitable. When you have the right partner and a solid partnership marketing strategy, the possibilities are endless.

Find complementary channel partners, put your heads together, start working on improving your profit margins... and who knows what kind of magic you and your channel partners can make.

The risks are minimal, so what are you waiting for?

More Resources on Partnership Marketing

Five Tips for Small B2B Companies That Depend on Big Channel Partners

Good Money After Bad? Your Channel Partners and Your Co-Op Dollars

Partnership Brand Marketing—It's About Distribution Channels

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image of Tom Serani

Tom Serani is chief channel officer of SiteLock, a website security company. He has 20+ years' experience driving multimillion-dollar growth and expansion.

LinkedIn: Tom Serani