Software vendors who have recruited partners wisely have an opportunity to target many new prospects via indirect channels. In addition to expanding your sales force, an established network of enabled partners can greatly multiply the reach and frequency of your marketing messages and campaigns – if you deliver the right content.
So, how do you do that?
A Range of Options
Sharing materials with partners can be as simple as sending an attachment in an email, but that approach breaks down pretty quickly as you scale up the quantity, types and value of your marketing assets.
To be truly effective, you need a content sharing system.
Content can be made available on your website, in your partner portal, using a content management application, or via content syndication. Entente has helped a number of software vendors plan, build and deploy content-sharing solutions across this entire spectrum, and we’ve learned what to look for in each approach. Here are some things to keep in mind.
On-Site Resource Center
For simplicity and low cost, a content resource area or library on your web site might do the trick.
It’s a good idea to host the library in a secure portion of your site, and require a basic user name and password for access. This allows you to deliver content to your partners that you wouldn’t want to share with prospects, customers, or competitors – such as price lists, sales tips, and the like.
We helped one of our customers add this capability when we built a new web site for them. This allowed the vendor to position their partner recruitment offering prominently on their public site and feature the dedicated resource center as a benefit of joining up. We placed selling tips, instructional videos, integration code samples and other assets in the library along with customer-facing materials for download.
Put It in the Portal
If you have a partner portal, you probably have a pre-built way to share content.
One of our customers uses Salesforce.com as their portal platform, and uses the Library function of that system to expose partners to everything from product launch kits to development roadmaps. There’s a search function, the ability to manage access to multiple libraries, a content rating system, a preview capability and more.
Depending on the portal software, this approach can be quite effective. It eliminates most web development cost but adds the expense of licensing the portal application. There’s single sign-on to both the content repository and other portal functions, so partners are more likely to use the system.
Without some tricky scripting, however, the repository is fairly passive: partners must browse for content of interest to them, or be invited to download material in an email link. There’s little ability to drive interactive campaigns through partners this way.
Web Content Syndication
According to Forrester Research, 75% of today’s business technology buyers rate a website as important, very important or their primary source of information. This makes web content the highest-ranked influencer over any other source including social media and publications.
Over the last few years, web content syndication solutions have emerged and have gotten fairly powerful. These systems shine in their ability to manage important web content in addition to more static materials such as white papers or brochures.
This is crucial for software vendors who struggle with poor presence on their partners’ sites, out of date or inaccurate web representation, brand non-compliance and a host of other partner website headaches.
Web content syndication allows a vendor to distribute approved, up-to-date web resources directly to their partners’ sites. Partners subscribe to the syndicated content, and often need only a few minutes to integrate and activate the content on their sites. The vendor can “push” new material – web copy, videos, product specs, screen shots, logos, PDFs and more – out to subscribers at any time, keeping their web presence current, active and plentiful.
Content syndication can enable robust lead generation, tracking and analysis across the partner site network. And, many of today’s offerings can empower the vendor to execute targeted email campaigns to the partners’ in-house lists, driving responses back through the partner sites for even more leads.
The Medium is the Message
Your choices for sharing content with partners are many, and growing more complex and more capable all the time. Entente can help you work through the maze to find a medium that gets your message across effectively, while increasing the value of your channel.