Coronavirus pandemic has affected the life of every single individual on this planet. It has bought social, economic, and humanitarian catastrophe. The GDP of economies has dropped severely while businesses struggle to make ends meet. During these times, businesses are striving to resolve internal issues while expanding their presence to retain their customers.
Social distancing and quarantines and lockdown have all forced businesses and customers to shift online. Channel marketing is very underestimated but once adopted into the business model it can do wonders. This blog will help businesses understand why it is important and how they can use it for their advantage. So, let’s takes a deep dive into the world of channel marketing.
What is Channel Marketing?
In simple terms, channel marketing is the expansion of the sales force in such a way to stick with a customer-based mindset. The main point of this type of marketing is to reach customers at various brand touchpoints and maximize lifetime value. It involves finding partners with a similar customer mindset that can distribute products around different markets to reach a new customer base. Consumer marketing is a set of people, activities, and intermediary organizations are playing a vital role in the movement of goods from the production point to the consumption point.
Today, most of the manufacturers don’t directly sell their products to the end-user. Hence, utilize channel marketing can have both strategic and functional advantages for their product. Also, channel marketing is not just limited to products but can even be used to market ideas and services. For example, if a company manufactures software then laptop retailers could be a fairly relevant channel. Let’s consider if a jeweler sells its products on a shopping channel on TV or YouTube, an addition of a business website will allow them to reach more potential customers. Hence, potential channels can be anything or anyone from wholesalers and value-added resellers to retail sales agents, representatives, and affiliates.
Channels marketing can help organizations both expand their reach and revenue. But, organizations need to realize that every marketing channel offers different coverage and performance. Channels include traditional distribution models such as wholesalers, producers, and retailers or variants that cut out one or two components. Such as Dell and Avon which completely avoid wholesalers and retailers by using their warehouses and salespeople. Examples of marketing channels include:
3. Internet direct
4. Catalog direct
5. Sales team
6. Value-added reseller
8. Retail sales agent
9. Manufacturer’s representative
In every marketing channel, there is at least one person who serves as an intermediary. They perform functions, provide values, and expect economic returns. The values provided by these intermediaries include:
- Collecting and sharing marketing information about customers and competitors
- Negotiating price and other terms of transactions
- Developing marketing communications
- Storing and moving products
- Taking on the financial risk of the channel
- Transforming ownership titles from one person or organization to another
Different Kinds of Channels Marketing are:
1. Manufacturer to Consumer
The manufacturer directly delivers the goods to the consumers. As there is no involvement of middlemen such as wholesalers, retailers, and agents. The overall price of the product is quite low hence such channels are cost-effective and profitable for both the parties. Example: Confectionery items are directly sold to consumers without a middleman.
2. Manufacturer to Retailer to Consumer
The manufacturer sells its products to the retailer and then they sell the merchandise to the consumer. It is the most popular and highly preferred channel in the retail industry. Example: Many e-commerce outlets buy clothes from designers and then sell them to consumers.
3. Manufacturer to Wholesaler to Consumer
This channel is for the purchases of bulk items. Once an item reached a wholesaler they reduce its cost to the consumer. Hence, the item is made available to the consumer at cheaper rates. Example: Costco buys products and sells them to the consumer.
4. Manufacturer to Distributor to Reseller to Consumer
In this process, the manufacturer initially uses the service of a distributor. The products move from the manufacturer to one or multiple distributors. It is then resold to the consumers. Example: Dell partners with distributors like Ingram Micro and Tech Data to distribute their laptops.
Types of Channel Marketing
Similar to all other types of marketing, channel marketing focus on direct marketing such as consistent brand experience, demand generation, 4 A’s of marketing, and others. It is then about using campaign management, marketing automation, content, and social media management, lead generation, and management to channels. However, channel partners must be aligned with your brand marketing strategy and the end customers.
Multiple and separate communication channels between the customers and the business.
Multiple and connected communication channels between the customers and the business.
Multiple and interactive communication channels to provide a seamless experience.
Why Use Channel Marketing?
Channel marketing offers several advantages, for instance, it helps you to reduce your time and efforts on advertising strategies as it allows you to share the burden of marketing a product. It is a business partnership but it also provides your venture with an invaluable support network. The business partnership goes beyond sharing assets such as client databases, technologies, and even strategy-related documents. In some cases, it may also include preparing customized tools and solutions to very specific issues.
Benefits Of Channel Marketing
Channel marketing is a broad term that takes into account many different types of partnerships. One of the most vital and obvious advantages is giving your products more markets than a store. This simply means more reach and more sales. It also gives businesses flexibility when it comes to different ways of choosing to implement channel marketing. Now, let’s discuss some of the wider benefits of channel marketing:
Channel marketing is a lot cheaper than hiring the number of employees or creating an entirely different division that can generate the new customer base for the product reach.
Increases Brand Recognition:
When it comes to working with the industry leaders through affiliations, it means that brands will able to push their products through their partner’s channels. For example, if a channel marketing partners are known for their goodwill and customer trust, affiliation with such partners will also rub off on your product. It is similar to a personal recommendation which can give your product instant credibility.
Provides Greater Volume and Variety:
Channel marketing partners will be doing their separate marketing for your product. In reality, your marketers would not have the chance to test out different marketing strategies neither would they work the same as they will do for a third party with a different audience base. It will give you strategies to boost efficiency and reach unlike any other type of marketing.
How to Get Started with Channel Marketing:
Once you are convinced about partnering up can help your business scale, you will need to follow a few general steps to get going with the preparations for a partnership:
When looking for the business partner you should be equipped with information about all your potential collaborators.
It will help you organize an approach that you are going to follow for your campaigns to reach your goals.
Here businesses need to turn all the plans into actions by following their strategies.
Reassessment and Nurturing:
Businesses will need to analyze results and deepen partnerships.
These steps should be used as a repeatable loop and not as a closed step-by-step guide. The reason behind this is the ever-changing dynamics of the market, once outside business will need to re-assess these steps regularly.
Partnership programs are all about empowering their collaborators. Partners need to constantly focus on offering all-round support for campaigns and personal backups. This will help ensure if the marketing efforts do not become unsuccessful. Businesses can also be in constant contact with the manager of a partner which further helps as they can fill you in about the current conditions.
Businesses can also opt for another way which is reaching out to potential partners. Businesses can share banners or tutorials which can then be used to introducing your product to your customers. Cross-promotion can also be equally helpful. For instance, featuring your success stories among your partners’ customers can be another way.
In channel marketing, automation can be really helpful as it not only allows you to reach customers efficiently through various campaigns but also respond to them on time by employing tools such as Chat-bot. It ensures that you stay on top of communicating with your customers. As there is no one-size-fits-all solution, it is important to personalize campaigns with the partner.
Companies can gain control of their marketing initiatives by finding the right tools that allow partners to customize and use marketing materials effectively. This can help you keep your brand consistent without worrying about which partner is promoting your services. Additionally, access to analytics can be easier to streamline the process which will decrease the worry over a third party accidentally making promises on your behalf. In channel marketing, each channel offers a different reach, audience, and potential obstacles. Hence, it is important to developing an effective channel marketing strategy that can be both long-term efforts and can reap massive rewards. According to the Multichannel Digital Marketing Report 2015, 49% of marketers need help from IT whenever they want to add, edit, or manage content.
What are the Challenges of Channel Marketing?
Channel marketing offers various advantages but only when it’s done right. For example, if you are working with different channel partners, how can you maintain a consistent brand message and identity? Hence, today, it is very uncommon for channel partners to produce their material for advertisements. Here are a few more challenges that you might face when creating and implementing a successful strategy:
1. Lack of Expertise or Staff:
While this doesn’t mean they are bad partners but they often offer a reach you might not get access to otherwise. However, it can make it harder to get the right insights as they aren’t expert marketers. It is less likely that they can fully understand why promotions are not going well or how to track results.
2. Lack of Access to Analytics:
Channel marketing partners use their platforms for promotions and marketing this may cut off your access to analytics or any others report. But in the longer-run that can make it difficult to visualize the effectiveness of campaigns.
3. Less Advanced Marketing Strategies:
When partners are individuals or smaller companies who fail to leverage the most advanced platforms and sophisticated marketing strategies it leaves you at the forefront of collateral damage.
4. Lack of Control:
It’s a two-way street as partners amplify your brand and lend you their credibility. So, if they put out inaccurate or non-compliant messaging it can rub off on your brand.