Dede: Welcome to Channel Chat! The show that answers the questions, “What the heck is a sales channel and what do I do with it?” I am Dede Haas, your host and channel sales strategist and coach for DLH Services – Helping technology vendors make more money through the channel. 

For this episode, I was joined by one of the leaders in Channel Marketing, Mike Moore – Vice President of Channel Sales, Marketing, & Strategy at Averetek, and author of the book Marketing Multiplied: A real-world guide to Channel Marketing for beginners, practitioners, and executives. Mike shared some great, insightful views about why we are experiencing the demise of channel marketing as we know it and I’m excited to share them all with you. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.

Live interview:

Dede: It’s a pleasure to have you join us today, Mike.

Mike: Thanks for having me, Dede.

Dede: You’re quite welcome. So why is it the end of channel marketing?

Mike: Well, I think it’s first important to establish what channel marketing is in the present. So the present, is channel partners looking to their brand vendor partners to help them market and sell. And really looking to the brands for leadership.  But we’re at an inflection point where channel partners are starting to take the lead. Those who have embraced the digital buyer’s journey are stepping out in front and want to establish their brand, their website and putting the channel partner as more of an ingredient in their marketing versus leading with that brand, or vendor that they partner with and their marketing. So things are changing and that’s why I’m saying it’s the end of channel marketing as we know it and it’s going to change into something new.

Dede: Okay. How important is channel marketing and can it be saved?

Mike: Yeah, I think that the new thing that it will become is where brands are going to continue to play that role in channel marketing. But first off, I think they’re going to stop putting so much effort into pulling partners forward into the digital marketing world. A lot of brands spend a lot of time struggling with partner engagement and you have to ask yourself why keep putting the effort in.

Larry Walsh from the 2112 Group wrote an article a few months back in 2018 here, where he said brands are going to take a more Darwinian approach and just let some partners thrive and others will fight to survive if they’re not embracing digital marketing. And I agree with Larry’s point of view on that. In fact, CompTIA did a study in their annual State of Channel Research, where they’re seeing that partners are devaluing some of the traditional partner program benefits like training certification, looking more at support for sales and marketing. So, you know, partners that are participating in research like that, tend to be the more progressive ones who are looking at establishing their brand. So the way that brands engage channel partners, the channel partners they engage with, the ones who fall to the back seat. I think we’re going to see this evolution accelerate and have the more progressive partners really stand out there and be the ones driving digital marketing journeys to support the modern buyer.

Dede: That is really interesting because back in the day the partners really weren’t doing their own marketing. So, what replaces a channel marketing as we know it today?

Mike: Yeah. And many of them I think still won’t do digital marketing. And I think those will be a new model, a partner-centric marketing approach. That’ll be the new orientation that brands will want to embrace. You’ll segment your channel partners into growth partners and lifestyle partners, where the growth partners will be those who embrace the digital marketing journey, those who are driving more partner-centric point of view, putting more energy into their website, the content they create, looking at brands to really be an ingredient in the main dish. Whereas previously the partners were getting the main dish from the brand, and they were simply an ingredient in it, kind of slap their logo on it. Now I think they’ll want to establish more of their own perspective and put the brand as an ingredient and the things that they’re serving up.

Dede: Well, with all that being said, what is your prediction for the future of marketing for, with and through the channel?

Mike: I think the brands are going to really work on doing that segmentation in growth and lifestyle segments, investing in that growth segment and stop putting so much energy and effort into those lifestyle partners. Just let whatever happens happen with them, but really creating more programs to support the digitally-driven partners, help them establish their presence, help them establish their voice in the market, their identity, their specialty, whatever that happens to be and playing more of a supporting role on that partner lead marketing. And then all of the programs, investments, resources, content is going to pivot to support the partner-led model versus the brand- led model that many enjoy today.

Dede: Is there anything you would like to add?

Mike: I think that if I were sitting in the shoes of a brand marketer today trying to drive channel marketing programs, I would look at how I place my investments and try to make that pivot towards enabling growth partners in identifying and segmenting them. It may be a different orientation than how your partner program looks today, but I would start looking at the data, seeing what partners are pushing in that direction and work to enable them sooner rather than later.

Dede: And you have a book that’s out.

Mike: That’s right. I co-wrote “Marketing Multiplied: A Real-World Guide to Channel Marketing” for beginners, practitioners and executives with Peter Thomas, CEO of Averetek. So we work closely together with clients every day. We’ve gained a lot of experience over the last 20 years doing this kind of work ourselves as well as with companies who are leaders in this space. So the book is our perspective on how to start pushing more of an inbound marketing digital marketing journey with partners. How to enable them, how to establish a team, how to train a team that’s going to support these kinds of partners and bring out this new digital buyer’s journey in a through partner marketing fashion.

Dede: And where can people find this book?

Mike: Marketing Multiplied is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and of course we have a book website where you can listen to you a sample of the audiobook.

Dede: That’s great, and thank you for your great insights, Mike.

Mike: You’re welcome, Dede. Thanks for having me.

Dede: Thanks so much for listening to Channel Chat with Dede Haas and my guest Mike Moore.

This conversation will be posted under News on my website

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Until next time. Here’s to clear sailing through the channel.

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