Partner marketing is often expected to adopt storytelling strategies of the brand and/or product marketing approach. Mature partner marketing practices understand that partners march to a slightly different beat. We spoke with Dorthe Hietala of Marketinghuset 360 to get her views on partner marketing and nurturing relationships.
What are your current areas of focus?
Marketing – and partner management. Lead generation focusing on helping smaller IT companies focus on the right activities that will build up the pipeline.
What has been the biggest change in 2020 and what should we look out for in 2021?
The biggest change in B2B today is that we used to be able to go to events, seminars, and that is simply not possible right now. One of the things we need to look out for going into the new year is how do companies get the attention online from your target group that you would have been able to get through in-person meetings.
Companies need to think of new ways to do lead generation and new ways of getting attention online when they are going after new customers.Companies need to be able to catch the email addresses and contacts as well as nurture the relationships they already have. It is becoming much more important now than it used to be.
Companies need to focus on the customers they already have because there is an opportunity to upsell and cross-sell. It is much cheaper to sell to existing customers. But you cannot forget to market to new customers. Companies need to develop an ongoing marketing strategy for lead generation.
What I have experienced over the years is that many partner companies have a tendency to react quickly and say they need to something now in order to get a new pipeline and will go off and do something. But what they need to do is have a constant impact on the market. Have a plan in place. For example, they could send out an email newsletter every month. They also should be active on LinkedIn and perhaps other SoMe channels to make an impact on new potential customers. Being proactive rather than reactive when it comes to their customer engagement.
And going into the new year companies need to invest much more in content marketing because quality content is what attracts new clients.
What kind of content should companies focus on?
E-books – they will never go away. Webinars are here to stay as well. But they are a challenge because they need to be high quality. Recently we have seen new formats that are shorter and more to the point and much easier to digest. It allows for a more diverse group of speakers who would normally only present at in-person events. Webinars also can be recorded to reach a much broader audience. It no longer matters whether you are able to be at a physical place at a certain time. You can watch and rewatch as many times as you’d like from anywhere.
Video is gaining more and more popularity. And finally, quizzes are becoming more popular within B2B marketing as a different way of engaging with target audiences. And if companies build them in a smart way they can push your brand further.
The most important thing for companies is testing. Testing different types of content and seeing what has the biggest effect. What types of content have a better lead generation. And not being afraid to try new things and find out that it didn’t work and try something else. When we are in this digital-only world we need to test test test to see what works.
What are some of the challenges within the new digital-only customer journey?
One of the main challenges is giving a face to the company. When people are not meeting as much as they used to you need to show customers that you are human. Because no matter how the customer journey or buying cycle is designed, people will always be buying from people. Companies need to be transparent about who they are and how they are working. This is one of the biggest challenges when everything is digital. It is fine to show the brand identity but sooner or later customers will want to know who are the people behind it.
What’s next for agile lead generation?
Customers might be buying the software subscription directly from the large vendors, but all of the other bits and pieces that need to be implemented on the customer side will be done by the indirect channel partners. The challenge is that they need to be really good at doing the lead generation and maintaining the relationship with the existing customers. It is easier and cheaper to sell to existing customers than to acquire new ones.
The need to be really customer-centric and nurture the existing clients is becoming much more important going into the new year. And they will be able to assist customers in moving to new solutions. Many customers are still using on-premise solutions and at some point, they will need help migrating to the cloud. So, there is still a lot of business for the indirect channel to do.
Indirect channels will have a different role to play but they are still extremely important.
How we work with Dorthe
At Six Revolutions, we are betting that thought leadership needs to extend into partner-led conversations. This includes making thought leaders available for partners and also identifying and nurturing thought leads within partners. Together with Dorthe, we are developing tools for brands and partners to better deploy thought leadership.