The Role Of Brand In The Channel – Info Branding
For brands that rely on dealer and reseller networks, channel marketing and partner enablement are equally important as how the brand interacts directly with the customer. And while they should be aligned, they’re two different kinds of relationships.
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend Microsoft’s annual channel conference called INSPIRE in Las Vegas. For the first time ever, it was co-located with their employee event, called READY. This global gathering of 20,000 brought together resellers and partners from around the world, and paired them alongside Microsoft executives, product/marketing managers, and field sellers. And it speaks volumes about the value Microsoft sees in its channel partners across the world and how central they are to the company’s global business plan. The two communities now seem inseparable.
Microsoft’s mission is ‘to empower every person and organization on the planet achieve more” which aligns so plainly with a channel-led strategy. In his keynote, CEO Satya Nadella said, “If you want to work someplace cool, work someplace else. If you want to work someplace that makes others cool, work for us.”
The whole week was about ‘making others cool’ with events, panels, breakout sessions and meetups that explained the what, the why and the how, to resellers. Workshops helped sellers refine their own brands and value propositions, while interactive Q&As offered a chance to share success stories. Technical presentations helped sellers to understand details and exhibitions offered a chance to interact with complimentary and peripheral products and services that allow sellers to add margin to their deals.
The experience literally inspired me to think about the role of brand in the channel. Here are my top three:
1. Be A Purveyor Of Opportunity
The channel exists so that the brand can extend into spaces that would be too costly for it to do directly, and because the brand can have more impact with customers when paired with offerings that the channel is uniquely capable of providing. If a brand is a foundational piece of a solution (major equipment, infrastructure or software), it’s important to highlight the ways it can be complimented by other products and services that help the reseller add margin, such as software, consulting and support services. If the brand is peripheral, the same holds true only it is reversed to highlight how it relates to the foundational piece and how simply and easily it is to attach.
2. Showcase The Value
The brand needs to be sure interactions with resellers always highlight the ways it helps channel sellers make money, save time or delight customers. Sometimes a brand can get overly excited about a new product and does not position the communication in a way that is compelling, expecting sellers to be dazzled by what the brand has made. While spectacular features can certainly wow customers and get press (which is valuable in creating demand), if the channel can’t understand how they will benefit, it’s wasted communication.
3. Empower And Inspire
When a brand has a strong mission and purpose, there is an opportunity to amplify the brand through the channel. While customers may know about the brand through general awareness, their practical experience with the brand may be largely shaped by the channel, where the interaction and application actually happen. Be sure these sellers are onboard and embrace your brand’s mission and purpose, and that the mission and purpose are inclusive of what’s happening in the channel. Offer certifications and other ways resellers can demonstrate some exclusive specialization about a brand’s products or services.
The Blake Project Can Help: Please email us for more about our purpose, mission, vision and values and brand culture workshops.
Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education
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Article Prepared by Ollala Corp