The Value of Channel Marketing to Build Partner Connections

Channel marketing can help build and improve upon the foundation to create a more “sticky” partnership between manufacturers and their channel partners.

Atlas Copco Power Technique North America Llc Channel Marketing Infographic 2022

Most original equipment (OE) manufacturers will tell you that their channel partners are important and that building connections with them is key to a long and successful business relationship. However, many OE businesses will pile this responsibility on top of the regional salesperson and not invest in the necessary skills to nurture and build this mutually beneficial business alliance.

The skillset needed to maximize these relationships with businesses, personalities and prospects is something that goes beyond “sales.” This is where a channel marketer can help build and improve upon the foundation from which you want to create satisfaction, loyalty and a more “sticky” partnership between OEM and channel partner.

Defining Effective Channel Marketing

The definition of channel marketing can be very broad and, in some cases, oversimplified. As channel marketing relates to a mature industry – such as the construction and industrial portable equipment segments – the function of a channel marketer varies. The channel marketer develops and implements programs to help maximize rentals and retail opportunities by providing tools that help target specific customers (end users) to promote product and service offerings.

Effective channel marketers can implement programs with their customer base to help drive retail unit sales and develop the overall service/ownership lifecycle. Dealer programs developed with a channel marketing strategy also help to drive rental units. The implementation and utilization of partnership marketing funds are helpful in supplementing the overall marketing strategy at the dealer level. These funds also help to maximize brand awareness and digital footprint and to get dealers more invested in an OE brand.

Focus on the Customer

Industries often driven by efficiencies and global supply chain crunches can sometimes get caught up in just focusing on the transaction and not the customer relationship. How fast can we produce it and how fast can we get it sold? While this tactic can be beneficial in some business models, it can also be detrimental to long-term business success. A customer-centric approach to your sales and marketing strategies will benefit you more long term than just being transactional at the dealer level.

Organizations that are set up with a “customer first” focus view channel marketing differently. The focus is the customer segment and what that segment means to the health of your business and longevity of your product lines. It’s important to take a customer-centric approach and embrace channel marketing as a core strategy to create and maintain business relationships.

A channel marketer within your organization embraces and connects with your marketing team, sales team and customer segments by aligning goals together. A clear understanding of the customer journey, sales funnel and traditional, along with digital marketing strategies, is crucial in this role. When customer growth strategies are initiated within an organization, a channel marketer can take these initiatives straight to the customer while leaving the sales team alone to focus on nurturing the relationship on a daily or weekly basis.

A channel marketer has the benefit of being able to work with a customer directly. An example of providing additional value to that customer is being able to conduct a marketing audit within the business. This audit often includes reviewing the corporate website for improvements, making suggestions on marketing outbound strategies to the end user, suggesting improvements for social media presence and providing an overall partnership marketing strategy to help drive unit sales.

“Channel Marketing brings many criteria together including annual/quarterly programs, how to market for retail and rental in the digital age and ensuring dealers are set up for success when it comes to managing customers,” said Corbett Jones, vice president of marketing & communications at Atlas Copco Power Technique North America LLC. “Channel marketing is critical in helping to drive the stickiness between the OEM and dealer in support of the salesperson’s path to growth.”

Trying to remain pertinent in the customer relationship is tough, and the rewards are not instant. We live in a society that wants results “now.” Yet, sometimes, taking the longer, more strategic approach to building your elite customers into loyal business partners by going the extra mile to listen, ask open-ended questions and deliver tailored results will yield higher returns in all facets of your business in the long run.

Casey Wall is the Senior Channel Marketing Lead at Atlas Copco Power Technique North America LLC.