A Few Simple Guidelines For Channel Partners: Part 1

So Why?

Too often, in the first few minutes, I get “we need to get into social media – we heard that XYZ company generated XXXX Million through Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn and we want to do that too”.   The funny thing here is that they are often talking about Dell or another organization selling to consumers – but often there is an executive or sales manager involved who doesn’t know much about social media outside the headlines but thinks they have found lead nirvana!   In discussions with so many people I get the “well we invested in some telemarketing/mailers/events but we weren’t happy with the return and we thought this would be a cheap way of doing things!”

Well, as with any marketing activity, upfront research and planning is the most important piece – this usually frightens anybody but its not as hard as it sounds – mostly this is asking basic questions and making sure that the business reason sets the activity rather than the other way round.

Start Here:  Ask the Business Questions!

Ask a few basic questions of the management team:

1/ What is your growth plan?  How much do we need to grow the revenue in the next 2 years?

2/ How much of this needs to come from new customers?

3/ What is the basic profile of your customer base?  Is it regional, national, global?  What size are they?  who makes their decisions?

4/ What segment of customers do you have the highest propensity to win?

5/ What do you think your share of wallet of your existing customers is in this area?

Out of this you should then be looking at setting a profile of the types of customers you are looking for.

Here is an example:

A specialist technology VAR in a major city – they think they have 30% of the wallet share of 20% of the fortune 1000 customers headquartered in that city.  They want to grow 50% in the next two years.   When we did the math we revised the estimate of wallet share down.   Their original thought process was that they needed to gain a whole tranch of new customers to meet the goal – but it became very obvious that they need to gain a few points of additional wallet share and a small number of customers within a pretty specific profile.   If they hadn’t gone through the process, they could have wasted a significant amount of effort in new customer acquisition activity – which they didn’t know how to do!

So….if they can’t answer these questions, you are likely to have problems later on – in fact you are making a rod for your own back, because you are not setting the criteria for success.

So What Did We Do?

This is a fairly typical introduction to a conversation about social media and community.  In the end what we decided to to was to focus on evolving their event based marketing strategy, to move their events to be much more focused on the customer rather than the vendor and to add an executive roundtable strategy based on their existing customers.  We then talked about how to use social media to focus on a small hierarchically managed group of customers…and work with those customers to bring their peers into other those discussions based on the value of the peer exchange rather than the value of the vendor content.    In the next post I’ll talk about recommendations for adding the CxO level roundtable…..

There is a lot more to come, but I wanted to make this a “one cup of coffee” read rather than needing a whole pot of it to stay awake!

Thanks for reading – constructive comments welcome!

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