Archives for May 2013

Project Logo: Branding your Channel Marketing & Channel Incentives Programs

Today I felt moved to tell you how you can brand your channel marketing programs & events with the highest quality graphic design work at a shockingly affordable price.

I usually don’t blog about specific products or services, but Project Logo is so unique and salient that I felt compelled to share it with the entire Move the Channel community.  Project Logo was very much surprised when I asked if I could mention their name in this post.

project logo

As channel professionals, we work tirelessly to build the perfect partner program. We deliver channel incentives to our partners, provide them with a top notch enablement program, and try to position them to be as successful as possible in their respective markets.

Project Logo is a company and a website, but mainly it is an idea: to provide companies with a polished logo and theme at a cost that won’t break the bank. If you’ve greatly invested in the development of a partner program or event, then don’t you think it should be branded with the same quality as your own organization? After all, your channel activity is still a reflection of your business, is it not?

For a long time, channel marketing departments didn’t have additional budgets for such a branding effort.  To achieve a quality, professional look while incorporating a company’s high standards was a very expensive job.

But then along came Project Logo, offering a cost-effective design strategy for channel-related initiatives. Here’s how it works:

1)      Project Logo streamlines the design process through a 14-question online interview.  (you can view the questionnaire here and answer the questions for free).

2)      After you complete the interview, Project Logo analyzes your answers and develops unique insights into your business.

3)      From there, they begin designing multiple concepts for you to consider, after which you may choose your favorite and request any refinements to it that you may have.

4)      Finally, you will be armed with a logo and theme that can function in any newsletter, partner portal, or reward program.

If nothing else, you will find great value in simply going through the interview process (unbelievably, this is a free part of the service).

With as much effort, thought, and resources that often go into marketing your channel programs and events, it just makes sense to go the extra mile. Think about bringing a fresh look to your idea by branding and framing it in the light that it deserves. And make sure you’re doing it for the right price, too.

Does your channel marketing program brand and logo appropriately represent your efforts and the investments made into the program?

Channel Conduit of the Week: When Should We Recognize Each Of Our Channel Partners? Early & Often!

Channel Conduit #10 of the Week

  • Small gestures that make big impacts on channel behavior
  • Commonsense reminders that make the difference b/t you and your competition
  • Elements that should be considered in a Channel Incentive Programs

When Should We Recognize Each Of Our Channel Partners?  Early & Often!

recognitionEven though studies have shown that consistent praise and recognition are important keys to building loyalty and motivating your partners, I still sometimes get the question, “but if we give too much recognition, won’t it become watered down and dilute the meaning?” To be fair, I used to ask this question myself from time to time. However, I know more now than I once did, and so today when I hear this question, I quickly come back by asking “how often do you tell your loved ones that you love them? “  Here, their answers usually range from “often” to “every day.”   You’ll notice that none of them say twice a year!

Obviously, I’m being a little tongue-in-cheek, and I know it’s easier said than done to give praise and recognition consistently when we are talking about hundreds or even thousands of partners.  But while the handwritten note, personal email, or individual phone call are all great quarterly or semi-annual methods of recognition, the leading channel incentive platforms (I am most familiar with have begun to incorporate additional features that make it quick and easy to offer consistent ad hoc praise and thanks to your valuable channel partners.  These include gifting modules and team communication features.  With that being said, if you think your competitors are offering gestures of gratitude to their partners, do you really want to be the one that seems unappreciative? What other ideas do you have for consistent channel partner recognition?

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.

Channel Conduit of the Week: Book It!

Channel Conduit of the Week

  • Small gestures that make big impacts on channel behavior
  • Commonsense reminders that make the difference b/t you and your competition
  • Elements that should be considered in a Channel Incentive Programs


Channel Conduit 9 Book it!

Believe it or not, the most motivating rewards I’ve ever received have been handwritten notes.  For whatever reason, I’ve always appreciated the time and thought that goes into putting pen to paper. It’s a personal gesture that feels far more meaningful than, say, an email. Of those notes that I still cherish and read often, most have been written on the inside of a book. I have a library full of business and leadership books, but the ones that have a special place on the shelf are those with personal messages written in them by a boss, business partner, or person I just greatly respect.

Is there a book that your leadership is reading that could apply to any business? Is there a personal favorite book that has shaped your personality and how you do business? Have you written your own book? One of the better ways to align your channel distribution partner with you and your organization is to have them read the same book as you. You can encourage this process by sending them a title with a personal message inside. It’s a terrific gesture of respect and inclusion in your go-to-market strategy.

What book would you give to an important business partner?

Channel Conduit of the Week: Long-term Loyalty is never achieved through Short-term Spiffs

Channel Conduit of the Week

  • Small gestures that make big impacts on channel behavior
  • Commonsense reminders that make the difference b/t you and your competition
  • Elements that should be considered in a Channel Incentive Programs

Channel Conduit 8  Long-term Loyalty is never achieved through Short-term Spiffs   

WateringTreeYears ago I moved into an older neighborhood and bought a house with a lot of “charm” (I think we all know what “charm” really means in the lexicon of home ownership).  One of my many projects and challenges was maintaining a beautiful 60-year-old Ash tree that had become a fixture of our home.  We even had for our Christmas card a picture of the family sitting on a large swing that hung from the tree’s enormous branch.

But during one summer, our region was hit by a particularly destructive breed of insect called the emerald ash borer which devastated a number of trees in the area.  We eventually noticed that our tree was becoming similarly ravaged, so we did what we could to save it. Year after year we threw money at the problem, hoping to cure green with green.

For a while it worked. The tree managed to hang on, to the delight of us all. But finally it became evident that the expensive treatments were not having the desired effect, and I decided that the project I held near and dear to my heart was unfortunately no longer worth the investment.  For all of us it was a difficult experience. We had wanted the tree to flourish so badly, but in spite of our best efforts we simply couldn’t sustain it in the long run.

Throughout my career in performance marketing and sales, I have come across similar emotions from my experiences with channel marketing leaders. Desperate to earn the immediate business of their channel partners, they offer money bonuses, SPIFFS, discounts, or rebates. While these expensive tactics can succeed in the short-term, after the spiff ends, the business always seems to fall back to pre-spiff levels. These professionals want their channel partner business to flourish so badly, they have a hard time realizing that long-term success can rarely be achieved with short-term strategies.
Today, try and take a look at how you are capturing the long-term mindshare and loyalty of your partners. Instead of offering them cash that they’ll spend at the grocery store or bills, why not give them the opportunity to attain a longer-term goal, like earning enough points to finally take their family on the vacation of their dreams?

The Business of Harmony: Getting Your Sales and Marketing Teams Onto The Same Page

The divide exists in every company.  Marketing thinks Sales is here to execute their strategy.  Sales thinks Marketing exists to support their sales efforts.  You have probably heard thing like “Sales people don’t get big picture” and “Marketing people have no clue about the end-user’s unique needs.” In a way, they’re both right.  But don’t worry—the occasional dissonance between the two branches of your organization is to be expected.  That’s because the sales team is tasked with closing the business right in front of their noses, and the marketing team is challenged with casting a vision that creates future opportunities down the road. Spending time in both departments, I have been on both sides of this dissonance, and what it really is is a matter of long-term planning versus short-term action. Both approaches ultimately work toward the same goals, but they each go about it in very different ways.

Business Harmony

Business Harmony

Today you can see various attempts by organizations to foster better internal harmony.  For example we see both department rolling up to on Sr VP of Sale & Marketing or Channel Chief.    One proven solution I have come across that closes this loop between sales and marketing has to do with your channel incentive or reward program. First off, it should absolutely be designed and communicated by a marketing leader.  A program that casts a wide net throughout the channel ecosystem needs the continuity and foresight of a well-crafted, long-term approach.

But there also needs to be an olive branch. Why not allow the sales leadership to determine what behaviors are rewarded for in the program? The salespeople are clearly the most qualified to identify these behaviors, things like Steps-To-The-Sale (STTS) and Key Performance Indicators (KPI).  Chances are your salespeople have been examining and fine-tuning these behaviors over years of an evolving sales process.  They are how management measures the success of individual salespeople outside of a closed deal.

In addition to encouraging synergy within your organization, this approach achieves one of the 5 most important components of a successful incentive program:  the “Sales Buy-in”. Without Sales buy-in your incentive program is dead in the water.  Salespeople are the front line of marketing’s message, and also the most penetrative.  When the sales team has a hand in developing the program rules, the program becomes a sales tool that can help them close more effectively.

I call it the Business of Harmony.

Channel Conduit of the Week: Get the Award Right

Channel Conduit of the Week

  • Small gestures that make big impacts on channel behavior
  • Commonsense reminders that make the difference b/t you and your competition
  • Elements that should be considered in a Channel Incentive Programs

Channel Conduit 7:  Get the Award Right

Q.)  When is a toothbrush an appropriate award for closing big deals and shift share?  A.) When the participant picks that award.

Stick with me here. The first impactful reward program I ever participated in was the Kodak Rewards Program. When I say impactful, I mean it actually made me focus on selling Kodak and caused me to actively recommend Kodak over similar or equal products. As a result I earned many Kodak Points that I could spend on a few hundred different merchandise items. I ordered a few items including an iPod, Canon Camera, and even a TV. But the one that probably left the most lasting impression was a toothbrush. Yes, a toothbrush. I’m probably dating myself now, but this was when Oral B had just come out with the dentist recommended electric toothbrush. I would have eventually gotten around to buying an electric toothbrush regardless, but I certainly wouldn’t have been on the cutting edge of mouth hygiene. The OB Electric Toothbrush changed everything. I remember the enjoyment of brushing my teeth, of looking in the mirror and thinking, “Thank You, Kodak. Thank You, Kodak….”.




If Kodak had given me cash, would I be telling you about the Kodak Reward Program today? Would I even remember what I had spent it on? Would I have spent it on something as cool as a toothbrush? No, I would have probably taken it to the grocery store or something. See, you can pick great rewards for program participants depending on their demographic. Usually a group trip reward or individual experience rewards are can’t-miss, and have both an immediate effect and terrific staying power. But by far the best reward of all is the one that your participants pick for themselves. So give them lots of choices and you will be on the right track.

What are some of your favorite rewards from Rewards Programs?

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