Thoroughly Modern Channel Marketing

It’s that time of year when Microsoft partners are busily preparing their applications for Partner of the Year awards to be presented at this July’s Worldeide Partner Conference in Toronto.

This year, unless I missed it last year, Microsoft introduced a new award category to the 80-plus others that it gives out. It’s called the “Modern Marketing Partner of the Year,” and it seems to celebrate those who have used the most new media—be it social media, search engine optimization or other channel partner marketing tools.

In the section asking for an executive summary, Microsoft includes a request to entrants: “Please describe a marketing campaign you’ve run and how you use marketing content and tools (Websites, landing pages, email, social media, automation, as examples) to respond to prospects and customers as they explore, evaluate, purchase, expand, renew and advocate your company.”

While they do qualify the request at the end by saying “as examples,” it’s noteworthy that nothing but new media is listed here.

The purpose of this post is not to bemoan Microsoft’s focus, or how well their award applications are construed. If so I might be asking why they ask entrants to “Please describe the core tenants of your marketing plan,” when the word they were looking for is “tenets.”  Sorry, as a professional writer I just couldn’t pass that one up.

Channel Marketing Strategy: Melding New and Traditional

No, the purpose of this post is to make the very important point that new media do not replace old or classic media. It’s not the channel marketing strategy. Just because some vendor will hang a medal on you doesn’t mean you should stick to only new and social media to drive your marketing.  Your marketing will be most effective when you optimize it by integrating classic marketing strategies with new-age ones.

As hard as it is to imagine, some people still don’t use a Kindle or other e-reader. They read old-fashioned books made from paper. There has always been a discrete charm in sending someone a book to read, especially one you’ve enjoyed yourself, and especially if it has anything to do with what you’re selling to them.  What if the free giveaway in your next ad was a hardcover book? How do you think the impact would differ?

You don’t have to see the original 1454 Gutenberg Bible to sense the excitement of the authentic. There is absolutely a difference in perception when a customer opens a letter you have printed, folded and mailed to them that is signed in ink by your hand. Maybe it’s a small difference, or maybe they truly appreciate the extra effort you took to prepare the letter.

Authorized marketing resources like the venerable Nurture Marketing in the New York metro area that has been around for decades still includes what they call “lumpy” postal mail in their campaigns, along with email, telephone, social media posting and other tactics.  These direct mailings have some kind of item in them that you can kind of feel through the envelope. It may be a marble-sized crystal ball in a mailing about forecasting software. We’ve all received the free pen in the mail about getting personalized pens made up. You get the idea. Combine these with emails, phone calls and other media and you have a thorough, comprehensive channel marketing campaign. Compare that to just sending out emails and tweeting.

The point is to look at all of the tools in your marketing toolkit as valuable, and whatever you do, don’t segregate them into social or virtual tools and classic tools. There is no old or new in channel marketing. There is only what works. The more you combine various media effectively, the more powerful a campaign you will have.

Howard M. Cohen is a 30-plus-year IT industry veteran who continues his commitment to the channel as a columnist and consultant.

Howard M. Cohen
Howard M. Cohen is a 35+ year executive veteran of the Information Technology industry who writes for and about the IT channel. He’s a frequent speaker at IT industry events, including Microsoft Inspire, Citrix Synergy/Summit, ConnectWise IT Nation, ChannelPro Forums, Cloud Partners Summit, MicroCorp One-On-One, and CompTIA ChannelCon, and he frequently hosts and presents webinars for many vendors and publications.

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