The Channel Company, which incudes CRN, Computing, Channel Partner Insight and bChannels, has come together recently to create an end-to-end service to provide more transparent and reliable returns from the IT Channel.
This is the fourth in a series of blogs explaining some of the biggest challenges facing Channel leaders in 2023 that we will be working with Technology Vendors to overcome, focusing on overcoming talent shortages in channel marketing.
Even before the pandemic, there has been a growing talent crisis in partner marketing, with vendors and partners alike having a hard time finding, recruiting and retaining experienced specialists in a channel marketing role.
As digital through-partner marketing techniques emerged and evolved rapidly, demanding a broader, and rarer, mix of skills and knowledge to thrive in the role for tech vendors to uncover, the labour force has struggled to keep pace with change. As a previous article published by CRN US has highlighted, the pandemic has only intensified the challenge.
Experienced channel marketers are very much in the driving seat when it comes to shaping how, where, and when they work. They are comfortable with moving on, or even taking multiple jobs, if they are not getting what they need, while making digital skills more valuable than ever as offline marketing and events wound down, permanently altering buyers working preferences.
While developing an in-house partner marketing team perfectly in tune with company culture and strategic direction may still be ideal for most tech vendors and their channel partners, it is an increasingly difficult wish to fulfil.
In addition, 2022 saw the beginning of sizeable lay-offs across the technology sector in response to a changing economic climate, and with it an increased focus on fixed costs, particularly around staffing.
As a result, many technology vendors don't have the bandwidth to in-house partner marketing resources full time, no matter how important the role may be to success through channel partners in the upcoming months and years.
So, it's increasingly hard to find people with the skillsets you need, even harder to afford them at the wage levels you are expecting, and if you could find them, you may have trouble hiring them due to your company's financial situation - is there anything leaders can do to respond?
Scalable, adaptable talent
Many companies are turning to virtual PMMs to deliver, or supplement, the through-partner marketing expertise they need. While the concept of outsourcing marketing services to an agency is nothing new, partner-marketing-as-a-service offers particular benefits over an in-house only PMM model.
If you were to build a large partner marketing team, you would expect to find the full set of skills you need across the team in aggregate, rather than a team full of people each with a complete skillset.
Virtual PMMs are, in effect, a slice of agency resources, as opposed to an individual at an agency. As such, they give you access to the skills and experiences you need to succeed, when you need them - whether they be digital techniques, language skills or more - while not being tied to paying salaries for those capabilities when they are not in demand.
This allows vendors and their partners to spend less time on managing and supporting in-house resources, and more time on strategic campaign direction.
At the same time, the flexibility of bandwidth with a virtual model is invaluable. During crunch time whole teams can be sent out to bat for you, then turned down to a smaller staff when it's business as usual - without you paying anything for downtime- with the hypothetical option to shut down operations entirely at low cost, for the benefit of your CFO.
The partner-marketing-as-a-service model also enables the delivery model of each campaign to be defined entirely by desired outcomes, or the specific results the vendor wants to see among target audiences in particular roles, sectors and geographies. It's down to the agency to choose the best people and tools to deliver these outcomes.
One word of caution: hiring virtual PMMs does not remove the need for day-to-day management from the vendor or its partners. It's vital that the agency providing the virtual PMM service is kept fully in the loop on strategic direction, changes in messaging, and product and campaign timelines. In effect, the agency needs to be treated as part of the channel marketing team to ensure engagement and performance are maximised.
To find out how The Channel Company can help with the virtual resourced needed to kickstart your campaigns, find out about our through partner marketing solutions.