As an MSP, you are always looking for ways to grow your business and reach new customers. One way to do this is through channel marketing. Channel marketing is when you partner with other companies in your industry to promote each other’s products and services. This can be a great way to reach new customers and grow your business.
However, it can also be a lot of work. You need to find the right partners, create promotional materials, and track your results. Additionally, you may feel pressure from distribution companies to participate in channel marketing. They may offer incentives or discounts if you agree to promote their products. However, you should only participate in channel marketing if it makes sense for your business. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing, and channel marketing may not be the best use of your time and resources.
Should Your MSP Participate In Channel Marketing?
If you’re considering channel marketing, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Define Your Goals
Before you start working with partners, take some time to think about what you want to achieve with your channel marketing campaign. What are your goals? Do you want to reach new customers? Increase brand awareness? Drive traffic to your website? Once you know what you want to achieve, you can start looking for partners to help you reach your goals.
2. Find the Right Partners
Not all vendors are a good fit for channel marketing. You want to find partners that have a similar target audience, and that complement your products or services.
3. Create Promotional Materials
Once you’ve selected your partners, it’s time to start creating promotional materials. This could include social media posts, blog articles, or even joint webinars. The goal is to create content that will help you reach your target audience and promote your products or services.
4. Track Your Results
It’s essential to track your results so you can see what’s working and what’s not. This will help you adjust your strategy and ensure that you’re getting the most out of your channel marketing campaign.
5. Don’t Feel Pressure to Participate
You should only participate in channel marketing if it makes sense for your MSP business. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing, and channel marketing may not be the best use of your time and resources.
If you’re feeling pressure from distribution companies to participate, remember that you don’t have to do anything that doesn’t make sense for your business.
What Is Through Channel Marketing?
The conventional channel marketing approach has the brand handing out marketing material to its partners and hoping that they make good use of it. As any brand knows, that hope is often misplaced. Most channel partners are small or mid-sized businesses staffed by tech experts, not marketing professionals. Furthermore, they don’t have the time or resources to focus on developing a top-notch marketing campaign. As a result, many will either ignore the materials or, worse, use them ineffectively, potentially hurting the brand in the process. A better approach is for the brand to take a more active role in developing and implementing an effective marketing strategy with its partners. This can involve providing training and support and developing specific marketing plans and campaigns tailored to the partner’s strengths and weaknesses.
When done correctly, through-channel marketing can be a highly effective way to reach new customers and grow your business. However, it’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing. Channel marketing may not be the best use of your time and resources, so don’t feel pressure to participate if it doesn’t make sense for your business.
Don’t Sacrifice Your Brand
As someone who works in the MSP community, I am all too aware of the problem with vendor-produced marketing materials. Logos are slapped on cut sheets, and vendors become the stars, while MSPs are relegated to second-class status. There are a few reasons why this is a problem. First, it means that MSPs cannot tell their own story and differentiate themselves from their competitors. Second, it can lead to a loss of control over the branding and messaging of their business. Third, it can create a perception that MSPs are not serious about their marketing or their brand. Ultimately, this is not an effective way to market an MSP business, and I would encourage MSPs to avoid vendor-produced marketing materials whenever possible.
If you are going to use vendor-produced materials, be sure to edit them so that they are consistent with your brand and messaging. Don’t sacrifice your brand for the sake of convenience.
Get Involved in the Creation Process
The best way to ensure that your through-channel marketing campaign is effective is to get involved in the creation process. This means working with your partners to develop customized marketing plans and campaigns tailored to their strengths and weaknesses. It also means providing training and support so they can implement these campaigns effectively. By taking an active role in developing and implementing your through-channel marketing strategy, you can ensure that your MSP business is getting the most out of this marketing approach.
Your Brand Is Still The Star Of The Show
As an MSP business owner, you are probably very busy. You may or may not have a dedicated marketing department or even an MSP marketing agency that focuses on building your presence in the local market. However, it is essential to remember that whatever you do and if you partner with a vendor, your MSP brand is still the show’s star. You need to be careful about how your brand is represented and make sure that any branding partners you work with understand and respect your brand identity. Keeping these things in mind ensures that your MSP brand remains strong, even as you grow and change over time.
Some Vendors (Not All) Will Bully You
I was on a call recently where my client, a great MSP located in the United States, was bullied by their distribution partner to participate in this through channel marketing program or else. What was the “or else?” They would be expelled from the distribution partner’s partner program. Never let a vendor bully you into doing something that doesn’t represent you or your MSP brand. In this particular instance, my client would have had to provide joint marketing funds, co-branding assets, and give away leads that came through this funded program. My client said no, and as a result, they were “kicked out” of the distribution partner’s partner program. Here’s the thing, sometimes it’s okay to walk away from a situation like this. Not every channel partner is a good fit for every MSP, and that’s okay. My client was able to find another distribution partner that didn’t require them to give away their brand or identity to participate.
Don’t forget, as an MSP business owner, you are ultimately responsible for your brand and how it’s represented to the world.
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Stuart Crawford serves as Creative Director and CEO with Sebring, FL Ulistic, a specialty MSP Marketing firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to how technology business owners and IT firms can use marketing as a vehicle to obtain success.
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