Life and information moves faster than ever in today’s always-on world. To take advantage of this speed, many B2B companies have launched content marketing programs designed to engage their prospects and customers. These companies are regularly pushing out high value content through blogs, emails and social media. Those doing the job right, are sharing information about how to apply their product, supplying educational information, or helping customers evaluate alternatives. They leave the traditional product spec and feature information on their corporate website where it belongs. Having a direct connect with the customers gives marketers an opportunity to speed their understanding and adoption of technology because they can address traditional obstacles in the customer’s buy cycle. This is all great news, but what often gets overlooked is developing the same type of relationship with your channel partners and sales who are most likely to get the first set of questions from your new and more advanced prospects and customers. To address this issue, it is essential to develop an education program targeting your channel. This work is not hard. You just have to let them know what you will be talking to the market about BEFORE that information is released. That way, they can stay one step ahead and help amplify your marketing initiative by playing a crucial role in filling-in the missing details.
Many B2B companies already have a channel focused email or intranet site. Providing that team with a preview of what you will be rolling out into the market is a sure way to build confidence in both the channel and the customer base. Customers view you as a more connected organization and this re-enforces their impression of you as an educator. Going beyond simple communication of information to the channel would be to involve them directly in the creation of information. Indirect channel members often have the benefit of implementing solutions over and over again – and may come to the table with unique application or vertical market experience. They make terrific Subject Matter Experts with perspective of delivering a total solution and enough close contact with the end user to know precisely what they are worried about and what might slow down the buying process.
Sales and channel members need to be considered when rolling out information to the field. They are often the first group to be contacted by a customer who is engaged with material that you have published. Go further to actually interview and create content alongside your partners with specific industry expertise. This type of genuine information is what customers and prospects value most. Lastly, consider sharing the content that you produce directly with channel members so that they can reuse the material to share with their own customers and prospects. The wonderful thing about high value content is that it can be used and re-used in a variety of ways that help achieve stronger campaign results and ROI. So make sure your content marketing and Social Media plans takes into consideration your sales channel – the group that interacts with your customers and prospects the most.
Author: Dan Hirsh, Partner, MediaSolve Group