What the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has taught Channel Marketing?

Ever heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? Sure you have. It’s been one of the most successful viral campaigns in the history of social media. For me, this particular movement is rather close to my heart, because not only is it an amazing cause—bringing awareness to a terrible disease and raising money for research that will hopefully lead to a cure soon—but also my friend and high school classmate is currently battling ALS with unbelievable courage and grace.

As it stands, this social media campaign has been remarkably successful, raising $15.6 million thus far as a result of the challenge. That’s more than nine times the amount of money that’s normally donated to the major ALS organizations in the same time frame.

Beyond the obvious implications of this amazing human-interest story, what else can we learn from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?

1.) Everyone and their parents are on social media, and those who were heretofore uncomfortable using social media are becoming more comfortable with it.  At this point, if you aren’t using social media in some form, you’re probably missing some important conversations that are taking place within, around, and about your channel. This includes dialogue between your channel partners and their employees.

chick ice bucket

2.) Social media can be an extremely personal—and thereby effective—form of communication. For starters, you can comment directly to an individual customer, employee, or partner. Also, when you write on someone’s page or comment on a conversation they’ve started, you are giving them a vote of confidence. Essentially you’re saying, I’m not afraid to be seen with you in public! When working with your channel, the best social media campaigns are usually managed in a secure, Facebook-like module in the Channel Incentive Portal.

3.) If you “challenge” the individual, the masses will follow. As far as I can tell, communications to a mass audience doesn’t work very well. On the other hand, if you engage or “challenge” an individual with a call-to-action, the effectiveness of this contact will greatly increase. The fact is, unless you have a friendly relationship with someone, you probably aren’t going to contact him/her on Facebook, LinkedIn, or via text message. My point is, if you are reaching out through these mediums directly, then it could help you make the jump from business partner to business friend.

4.) Fun, public “call-outs” work with people you already are friendly with. Yes, the ALS challenge is intended to support an incredibly good cause, so most people are excited to help and participate in it. But a good social media campaign doesn’t have to be in the name of a charity or fighting for a cure in order to be effective. As long as there is good will between the “challenger” and the “challenged,” people will see it as simply as a fun way to engage and connect.

Here are some silly, yet very successful marketing campaigns I have designed, witnessed, or participated in, that have all utilized the power of social media in some way:

1.)    Concrete Chicken Tour — This concrete (yes, a heavy concrete) chicken named “Albert” was hand-delivered to the partner salesperson who happened to close the biggest deal that month. This lucky individual held onto—i.e. showed off—their trophy for an entire week, and was asked to “take care” of Albert and to take pictures of him throughout the week. In the office, in a meeting, with a client—even at home at the dinner table—there was Albert. You can image how much chatter amongst the channel partners this created. Of course, each of Albert’s “caretakers” kept upping the ante with their pictures, which were posted in a communal social media module inside their Global Channel Incentive Program Portal.

computer-skip2.)    Crush the Competition — One particular manufacturer ran a program called “Crush the Competition,” which included a social media component that evolved organically from a “conversion” incentive promotion. In their channel incentive program, this partner sales or sales engineer was offering valuable reward points for a sale that replaced any qualifying competitor’s equipment. To get credit for the conversion they had to submit a picture of the equipment they were replacing.  They would submit the picture through their normal claims process in their incentive portal.   It wasn’t long before the pictures became terrific images and even videos of playful destruction. Senior management loved the excitement it generated throughout the channel partner community.

3.)    Life’s a Beach — We all know that the Ultimate Reward for a channel partner is the achievement of the prestigious President’s Club group trip. One of my clients had a great community dialogue going with its channel partner that was hosted in their Channel Incentive Portal. Of course when pictures started being uploaded from the trip, it turned into great motivation for those that didn’t earn into that year’s President’s Club. This resulted in more first-time qualifiers than ever before!

If you haven’t been using social media to engage and “challenge” your channel, the time is now. Please share with me some successful programs you may have run. Or email or call me to brainstorm on some ideas that might work for your unique channel.

Move the Channel,



Channel R.I.M.E.S: Relationships, IT Integration, Management, Enablement & Education, Selling


Move the Channel Cover

Enter your name and email address to download Move the Channel Guide and RIMES Chart

Name: Email:


What makes Move the Channel’s Marketing Guide 1.0 the first of its kind?  Well as most of you know, this project started over a year ago as simple discussion in our LinkedIn Group.  It grew from there to an all-out pouring of ideas from across the Move the Channel community.

The next thing that is unique about this eBook, is how it’s organized.  While organizing all the ideas and best practices different categories became clear.  These categories are what we call RIMES –and are the pillars of any successful channel marketing program.

  • Relationships
  • Information Technology (As in the technology they have access to and use to better support them)
  • Management – as in Channel Management
  • Enablement and Education
  • Selling

So anyway it’s here.  You can download it right here at move the channel.com

Channel Conduit of the Week: 1 in 3 Babies…will Live to 100

The Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge Leave The Lindo Wing With Their Newborn Son

Yesterday I was driving a prospective client back to Boston Logan airport after a terrific meeting. Coming into the downtown area, I saw a billboard that caught my eye.  “1 in 3 Babies…” it read, and obviously at that point, as a father of two, it had my full attention.   I thought for sure it was going to be an important health awareness message like those that we are used to seeing. Curious to read on, I saw that the entire message was “1 in 3 Babies will Live to 100” (the billboard is right on the Mass Pike if someone can send me a picture of it that would be great)

As I was wondering exactly how one might go about measuring this long-term prediction, I was struck by a story I had heard earlier that day. The meeting we were coming from had to do with a channel incentive trip and the potential strategies that could be deployed for it.  At the end of the meeting our very impressive client told us a story about how a participant on an incentive trip he had run SIX YEARS AGO was still commenting today on how much of an effect the trip had had on him and his business.  I found it incredible that not only had this particular program yielded a 700% Return On Investment (ROI), netting over $75 million in incremental revenue; it had also continued to impact business on a long-term basis.  Don’t get me wrong, the immediate ROI figures were remarkable, and I know how important it is to show this analysis in order to justify the budget for such a program.  But the fact that customers still continued to be affected by the trip six years later got me thinking about how we might possibly measure this impact. Ultimately, this is something I like to call Return On Experience (ROE), a statistic that is difficult to calculate but strategically vital.  After seeing the billboard, I wondered if this client and his business would have seen the same ROE if he’d given his customers a cash-equivalent bonus instead of the trip of a lifetime.

Please send your experience where you were a participant or delivering such an incentive trip.  Send you comment or thoughts on Return on Experience ROE direct to my email!

Move the Channel,

LinkedIn Group collaborates to deliver a very unique Channel Marketing Guides& RIMES Chart.

It wasn’t easy to organize hundreds of ideas from a network of thousands of people from all over the world. But we did it. Move The Channel’s unique Channel Marketing & Sales 1.0 eBook is now available for you to download exclusively on movetheChannel.com.

MTC 1.0 CoverWhat makes 1.0 the first of its kind? As most of you know, this project started over a year ago as a simple discussion in the Move The Channel LinkedIn group. It grew from there to an all-out deluge of ideas from all across the Move The Channel community.

As we began organizing all of the different ideas and channel best practices that were coming our way, distinct categories started to become clear.  These categories are what we now refer to as “RIMES” — Relationships, IT, Marketing & Communications, Enablement, and Sales — and they are what we at Move The Channel consider to be the pillars of any successful channel marketing campaign.

Our goal is to begin to create a line of literature that can be referenced as a valuable tool in the planning and implementation of any channel marketing program. We hope you find this guide to be useful and informative. You can download it right here at movethechannel.com

Enter your name and email address to download Move the Channel Guide and RIMES Chart

Name: Email:

Please provide feedback so we can continue to enhance the Guide & Chart. MoveTheChannel 1.0 is the first step in an ongoing line of literature about channel marketing and sales. Our plan with 1.0 is to throw a net around a wide range of industries and promote the basic tools that have been proven to generate success across multiple access points within the channel. Enjoy!
Move the Channel,

5 Simple & Shocking Ways to Increase Loyalty with Your Channel

These five simple yet shocking tips will help to increase loyalty and better engage your channel partners.

shocked!  Home Alone1.)     Don’t ask them what they want…  or need!   By being the manufacture or distributor you have the insight and best practices of your most successful partners.  Share with the Silver partners how Platinum Partners became platinum.

2.)    Reward them more for non-revenue activities.  This may not make much sense on the surface, but it works.  Remember those best practices of your platinum partner from the first point?  If you know that the partners with the most training sell more and are less maintenance, reward everyone in the channel for training completions.  If X number of deal registrations or demos equal an increase of Y in sales, reward for registration or demo goal achievement.   Almost all of my clients’ Reward Programs include STTS (Steps to the Sale) components.

3.)    Share their competitive advantages with their peers.  In certain cases, this is not always appropriate, but hear me out…  Instead of just giving an award at the partner conference for most revenue, announce that “this partner also has the most certified engineers of any other VAR”  or  “this partner has engaged our sales team for demonstration more than any other partner.”  Not only will they appreciate the honor, they will also get other Channel Partners thinking about the ways they can be better leaders.  Pat these standouts on the back by putting them on pedestal.

4.)    What are you going to do this year? Sell more!  It amazes me how many companies don’t set goals for their channel partners to achieve.  What an amazing opportunity to have a business meeting with your partner. Tell them why you value them and why you are counting on them to grow their business.  Once you do, let them set the goal… chances are it is much more ambitious than you would have suggested.

5.)    Go fly a kite.  Or maybe a plane. Once your channel partners have achieved their goal (which you decided with them), take them and their spouse on a President’s Club or Group Trip (no, conferences don’t count!).  You asked them to achieve a goal and they worked on it all year, so put your money where your mouth is and reward them for a job well done. These high quality group trips can range from $2000-$5000 per person, but they couldn’t be a better use of funds, and if your channel partners hit the high goals you set for them, the extra revenue from the higher sales will more than pay for the trip.  Think about enjoying a mai tai with your best partners and see how appreciative they will be while mingling with your upper management and executives.  Nothing creates more loyalty than recognition and appreciation through an incentive trip.

Distributor Prospective: Out of Control SPIFFS!

Distributor Prospective:  Out of Control SPIFFS!

As many of you may know, I spent 7 wonderful years at a North American Distributor where I oversaw the business, sales force, and partner relationships in the Mountain and Pacific Time zones.  In the IT space (and many others) SPIFFS are part of the sales channel culture. I considered these vendor spiffs to be a great sales tool, and successfully leveraged them to motivate my sales team and grab the attention of the VAR dealer channel.  It was a win-win-win all the way down the channel.  The Vendor obviously got the mindshare of the distributor sales, which led to increased engagement with the VAR dealers.  As the distributor in channel I was pleased with the success of the SPIFFS, (although our CEO never cared for them), because I was ultimately able to leverage vendor monies and incentives to achieve the goals of our sales team.  All was in balance.Wild West

Yes, that worked for a medium sized distributor that was laser focused in Document Management and Enterprise Content Management (ECM).  We had a minimal number of vendors to manage and that was by design. What works for small- and medium-sized distributors, however, does not always translate into success for Larger Distributors.
Today I work with businesses that distribute hundreds or even thousands of vendor brands. With SPIFFS coming from every direction, how on Earth, as the distributor, am I supposed keep my sales team focused on MY company’s goals?  And how do I benefit or build goodwill with the SPIFFS that target my personal VAR partners?
One option is to adopt the Wild West attitude of SPIFF management and allocate an army of marketing managers each with their own vendor focused on communication and goals. More often than not, this is how the system is managed.

Option number two is to build a SMART brand Reward Zone that you, the distributor, own and can invite the vendors to participate in and fund.

But don’t worry vendors!   You can have your own promotion and rule structure under the distributor Reward Zone umbrella. Ahhhh…..Can you feel the channel universe falling back into balance?

Distributors Only beyond this point:

Here’s the best part.  You now have a Distributor-branded Incentive Platform where YOU control the messaging to your sales team and channel partners.  Vendors will be excited to help fund the program and make sure they are getting the mindshare of YOUR channel!

I would love to see your thoughts and comments below, or contact me directly here:  http://movethechannel.com/?page_id=70.

%d bloggers like this: