I am not suggesting eliminating ads, direct mail and email campaigns from a channel marketing plan, but I often run across product teams who are so focused on the consumer sales pitch that they lose sight of their partner needs. Face it, we are all consumers, and it is really easy to think of the stories that would make us want to buy a product. It’s a little harder to think of what would motivate someone to sell your product.
Channel Marketing is for the insiders, the people who are already at the party. It’s B2B communication, but it’s a special kind of B2B because a consumer sale is the end action step. You are still working to get that customer to make a purchase. Every step toward that sale should have persuasion and education, but the emphasis has a subtle shift for each audience, and the voice needs to change.
Take soap, for example. Selling soap to a consumer might speak directly to why they need soap (as a defense between their kids and germs) while addressing the benefits of your product. Your message would include some variation of “You need soap!”
Selling soap to the retail channel should be different. They know they need soap, it’s already on their shelves. Your channel partner wants to know why your soap will help increase their average ticket. Instead of leading the sales message with the cute kid stuffing a frog in his pocket while he reaches for a cookie, demonstrate how your brand understands the worried parent who is raising that kid, and why that customer would trust your product to keep him safe. “Our soap will help you sell soap!”
Selling soap to a distributor is another twist on the message. They are selling soap, too, but in a different environment again. “Our soap helps your customers sell soap! We’ve got ways to help you sell soap to your customers.”
The trick along the channel path is to not lose sight of the consumer message. What is the story that everyone should be saying to sell your soap? If that story is credible and easy to understand, then everybody wins.