PRM Best Practice: Partner Communication


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eMail is still the default B2B communication method these days long replacing the direct mail piece. It looks likely to be eclipsed by social media but we have yet to encounter a vendor who has been effectively able to harness the power of social media to measurable effect with partners. Meanwhile, most vendors do a very poor job of communicating with partners via mail. Frequency – too little or too much, poor targeting and weak content are the main culprits. What is more, to make it work properly for you, you need to:

  • Ensure that you have accurate, up to date email addresses for individuals in your partner community.
  • Ensure that you have their permission to send mail to their private email address (business addresses are exempt from DPA restrictions)
  • Ensure that you have a means to dispatch sometimes large numbers of emails at one time.
  • Have a repeatable process for communication creation that avoids duplication of effort.
  • Offer a means for the recipient to unsubscribe.
  • Make the title sufficiently compelling to ensure the mail is opened.
  • Tailor the content to your audience or your audience to the content
  • Keep the content short and present it in such a way as to make it look and sound interesting.
  • Have a means of tracking the communication:
    • Who did it go to?
    • Who received it?
    • From whom did you receive a “bounce-back” and why?
    • Who opened and read it?
    • Who responded to your call to action?
  • Ensure your communications are not mistaken for spam

It is often worthwhile targeting selected sub-audiences with complementary communications using other mediums such a telephone, direct mail and SMS where a more personal touch is required or where the message needs to be reinforced. SMS is a popular medium particularly when communicating with sales people and where immediacy is important but it should always be backed up by other mediums .

Social media is becoming an increasingly important medium in B2B as it has for individuals but most vendors are misusing it as a mechanism for broad poorly targeted, untrackable messaging to the amorphous masses. For this reason it’s value is as yet unclear but RelayWare will address this very real need in 2012 with the introduction of “Social PRM”. Social PRM will leverage social media platforms and mobile technology along with enhanced PRM technology to allow vendors, partners and customers to interact in entirely new ways and engage the entire partner and customer ecosystem to drive commerce – watch this space, we’ll be covering this topic in detail soon!

Partner portals should be seen as the final destination and the medium for hosting the message in its entirety with rich, high quality content. All other mediums should be used to direct partner traffic to your portal. This is important for two reasons:

  1. Your communication should be brief and to the point directing the partner through a call to action to visit your portal do take the next step: a. Read b. Learn c. Sign-Up d. Download etc.
  2. Your partner portal contains so much more information of value to the partner. Use their visit resulting from your communication to retain them on the site a little while longer to enable you to impart more information.

It should be remembered though that all mediums rely upon good contact information whether that be telephone numbers, email or office addresses. I will stress again that this is the biggest single source of failure. If your database is inadequate or out of date, you will fail to communicate effectively. Next week we’ll look at messaging.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mike Morgan
Mike has over 20 years of ICT, OA and CE channel sales and marketing management experience and is responsible for Relayware's global go-to-market strategy as well as the sales and marketing functions while overseeing the company's operations worldwide. Mike is recognized as one of the industry's leading experts in indirect go-to-market strategy best practice.


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