My name is Scott Gillum, and I am the recently appointed practice leader of gyro’s new channel marketing capability. You can read the release announcing this news. I’m very excited to be a part of this organization and even more excited about the opportunities to come. The practice I am leading will focus on helping clients at our b2b agency better understand how customers buy, and what channels they prefer to use during that process. The channel marketing practice is going to be based in a new Washington, D.C., office, opening this month. Provided below are some brief thoughts on how the channel marketing model for business partners is evolving, which I plan to further explain in a white paper coming soon, so stay tuned.
The Changing Channel
In the “good old days” companies built a ubiquitous brand, unique products and then dictated their terms and funds to sales channels. Brand advertising was typically handled via one of the three major TV networks aimed at the mass market to create a “pull” that would have customers do whatever it took to get those products regardless of price, location or availability.
Product marketing teams would assemble sales and marketing material, and route it to partners via partner portals or directly to their offices, assuming the partner had everything needed to sell the companies a certain product or service. And that approach worked, especially with those partners who were former employees.
Business was good and predictable, but then things began to change. More channels became available and, as a result, it was harder to reach and influence key customers; the window of having a truly unique product shortened, and partners started seeing a greater choice of products to recommend, all with different incentive programs.
Gradually the power of the transaction was shifting further down the value chain, leaving companies with less influence over the point of sale. Companies began asking themselves how they were going to get back into the game. Along the way, they discovered the following concerns:
• Inconsistencies in communication about marketing programs, incentives, service and who owned the customer left partners confused and frustrated.
• Partners felt as though they received little to no marketing support from manufacturers, despite having piles of marketing material and funds thrown at them.
• An even more concerning trend was starting to develop, with partners using less and less of the marketing funds available to them.
The old “push” product and programs through partners and “pull” customers to your products through mass marketing was no longer working. It was time to rethink the model.
Scott Gillum, Senior Vice President and Practice Leader, Channel Marketing at b2b agency, gyro