Why Listening is the Best Thing You Can Do For Your Channel Partners

In a previous blog we discussed the top 3 challenges facing brand and local marketers using co-op and MDF programs. Gleanster’s recent research digs deeper into the matter by underscoring the reason why brand marketers and local business owners diverge on what they think about program effectiveness, challenges and value.

According to this research, brands view the biggest challenge is that their Channel Partners fail to see the value in available co-op and MDF programs. The opposite is more likely to be true, their biggest issue involves their difficulty in signing up for them. Additionally, brands view digital programs as not being of much value to their Partner’s marketing efforts because they feel that they aren’t comfortable using them. The opposite was found to be  true. The top 2 channels local Partners believe drive most sales are digital products; social media and local websites. Isn’t that a kick in the butt? Who would’ve thought?

This disconnection between brand and Channel Partners has in part been caused by brands failing to constructively seek and receive feedback from their Partners concerning what programs are deemed worthwhile and where co-op and MDF investments should be made in the channel.

Strategic marketing priorities are often determined in a top down fashion without careful consideration of their real or perceived value down the channel. Local businesses are equally important stakeholders in the outcome of these programs. They expect them to work, and those that are engaged are making investments. They expect that 30% of annual marketing investments to come from co-op and MDF programs. According to the research they also see the necessity of having these programs available to them, and strategically factor it into their profit model.

What can brands do to better to receive and respond to feedback? Hint listen first.

  1. Intelligently track program utilization.
  2. Create systems to monitor program user feedback. Use them.
  3. Proactively seek feedback about how to improve and expand existing programs. Listen and respond better to trends in the channel and industry wide. See this as a developmental opportunity.
  4. Provide examples by recognizing the leaders in the channel and showcasing their successes.
  5. Educate the channel on best practices. As the brand it rests on you to teach and  challenge them to improve and incentivize them when they do.
  6. Accept change. Learn from your channel by discovering what is working for them and what doesn’t.

Bottom line for all of us busy marketers is trying to always do right by our channel partners…listen to what they have to say. By following the simple steps outlined above, this gives you a great head start in bringing greater alignment between you and your Partners.

To read more in depth information relative to this disconnect between brands and their channel partners, be sure to download this detailed report: Gleanster Research: The State of Co-op and MDF.

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