Six months into the launch of a GDPR-compliant through-channel marketing automation (TCMA) tool, TBI, the privately-owned master agent of technology solutions, is describing the initiative as a resounding success. As of early April, TBI’s Partner Marketing Center (PMC) had 300-plus users who had shared 200 campaigns and more than 100,000 emails.
The roll-out of the PMC, combined with other activities, earned TBIs marketing team a Gold Stevie award as marketing department of the year. “We’re excited,” Corey Cohen, TBI’s vice president of marketing, told CMR. In addition to the PMC, the award recognized a social media program, a partner survey and report developed in collaboration with another brand, and TBI’s white label content offering.
The popularity of TBI’s white label content was one of the reasons the company decided to implement a TCMA solution. Prior to the launch of the PMC, “We had a huge white label library that was also receiving a ton of adoption, and we created a lot of customs campaigns too,” explained Rachel Bruce, senior digital marketing manager at TBI. “What led to our implementation of a through-channel marketing automation platform was the fact that a lot of those custom campaign requests were for similar efforts. We needed to find a way to scale that activity.”
TBI conducted a thorough review of though-channel marketing automations solutions to find an intuitive, GDPR-compliant platform. After a year-long process of watching demonstrations and asking other channel leaders about the solutions they implemented, TBI selected the PartnerMarketing.com platform, offered by the channel-focused solutions and services provider Twogether.
Much of the early success of the PMC can be credited to the comprehensive roll-out campaign conducted by TBI. Recognizing that launching the new platform and driving usage would be a heavy lift, “We did a bit of a soft launch, drove adoption, got a great response, and then expanded that to our entire partner base,” said Bruce.
The rollout was teased through social campaigns that included a variety of humorous marketing memes. Emails were sent to all partners advising them that the platform was coming soon. One-sheet documents were distributed to explain what the platform is and what it can do.
TBI invited partners to schedule demos of the platform and one-on-one presentations were made. When partners were in the TBI offices, or when channel managers went to see partners, demonstrations of the PMC were on the agenda. “We also presented the tool and displayed it at all of our regional events, so that our partners were able to see it first hand and understand the value that truly exists with TCMA,” said Bruce.
TBI is also getting help from the vendors whose sponsored campaigns are made available on the platform. Adoption rises “when vendors communicate to partners that they can go to market with their message in the PMC in less than 15 minutes,” said Bruce. The platform currently offers six-vendor-sponsored campaigns. Eight brand-agnostic campaigns cover topics such as UCaaS, security and mobility.
That information is then automatically pulled from the system to customize the campaigns that partners select. Campaign elements can by further customized by the partners to reflect the partners specific business model or their prospects’ profiles. Partners also have the capability to select which elements of campaigns they want to use. “If partners only want to host a landing page for a campaign, they can switch off other elements,” said Bruce. “They don’t have to use the email. If social media is not part of their marketing strategy, it’s easy to remove those elements from the campaign.”
“If there is a heavy lift for partners to use the PMC,” said Cohen, it’s at the beginning when partners are first signing onto the system. “But every time they log into the system to send a campaign, or to create a campaign, it is really just a plug and play.” And with its simple, but robust customizing capabilities, partner can easily share campaigns in their own voice. “There’s a ton of editable text and elements that partners can go in and make it their own, and should.”
Many of the earliest adopters of the PMC were partners “unfamiliar with marketing,” said Cohen, “those who ask for help with campaigns or to produce content or start a blog.” The PMC, added Bruce, allow “partners to set it and forget it,” sending notifications when specific actions are required. “It has a lot of features and functionality in there that allows them — when it’s not intrusive on their business — to really make it part of their process.”
Cohen added that adoption of the PMC reflects a growing awareness among partners that they need to be better marketers. “Margins are shrinking and partners need to grow, so they have to move beyond hoping for referrals,” she said. Partner are “having to prospect, maybe the first time in their lives, and they’re coming to a point where they’re asking how to do it.”