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Matching Behaviors to Build Engagement in the Channel

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 Matching Behaviors To Build Engagement In The Channel

The book Convince Them in 90 Seconds or Less.. by author Nicholas Boothman describes a set of behavioral principles that can help people to connect more easily with other people in business settings.  Boothman is a master practitioner of neuro-linguistic programming and an expert on connecting with others.  A key principle of NLP applied in the book is that people will tend to like other people who appear to be alike to them.  As Boothman puts it, “When you say ‘I like you,’ what you are really saying is “I am like you.”

Our ongoing challenge when marketing to the channel is the work of building points of resonance for our partners.  We work to build channel marketing programs that will make our partners feel like, as Boothman suggests, our brands understand their needs and that we really “get” them.   We want them to “like” us and not just on Facebook. 

Using mobile technology to deploy our channel marketing programs provides a great way to meet this challenge and improve engagement.   When our programs meet users right where they are, the programs are better able to connect and to change the behaviors of our partners and resellers.  Then everybody gets what they want.  

Here are 4 ways to align your marketing with the needs and behaviors of your channel. 

Align With Existing Behaviors

I alluded to this above – “Synchronize with their body language,” advises Boothman when it comes to connecting person-to-person.   Let this principle be an overarching one to guide you as you craft and roll out your mobile strategy.  Clearly you are not meeting each program user face-to-face, so you must look at how you can synchronize behaviors by proxy.

Look around you right now. Chances are, somewhere in your field of vision there is a person deeply engaged with whatever is on the screen of their mobile phone. You may even be reading this on yours right now, so you’ll know exactly what I’m getting at: the mobile phone is no longer a novelty or just a work tool in people’s lives. Mobile devices are now how many people spend any down time they have and this includes the people in your channel. 

This is what I mean about meeting people where they are. Can that retail associate enter their sales SPIFF claim during a coffee break right after they’ve made the sale? Shouldn’t the field sales rep be able to check in on their claim data while waiting in the Starbucks lineup in the morning? People have come to expect these types of conveniences in the mobile age and considering these types of behaviors is what is going to help you map out an enhanced user experience. 

This principle also informs the other points below along the way.

Clarity Rules

Imagine a sporting event where the teams didn’t wear a uniform – the observer could be forgiven for having difficulty following the game. 

The line between digital and traditional marketing tactics has been eroding for quite a while now and has gotten pretty blurry. Each piece of your marketing now needs to show up clearly identifiable as being part of an integrated whole. 

Remember that as you market to your channel, all of your competitors are doing the same.   Your audience only has so much attention and focus and if your program’s touch points roll out in an erratic, non-linear fashion, you start to muddy the water.   “Is this part of the same program?” “Did the last program end already?” “Did I miss the cutoff date?” When you are competing for attention, confusing your audience is going to make you lose.

Snackable Content

Mobile provides a perfect platform for delivering training to your re-sellers.  You are able to measure if the training content is being consumed, experiment with how you pace delivery on it and even measure effectiveness of different scenarios such as paying a reward for training versus not.

The key is to make the content short and easy to digest.

You want to remember where the device fits into people’s lives.  Are they a sales associate in between ups on the sales floor? Is the person a field sales manager waiting for a plane?   Remember that you are trying to insert your material into their life and synchronize with their current behaviors.  When they have a few minutes down time, many people will start thumbing their phones. If they know that they can improve their selling skills or that they will receive an incentive for taking some training, they are likely to prioritize your content during that down time.

Customize Offers and The Future

After a while, you will have enough data history with your partners to begin to observe significant trends. Predictive analytics applications that will help you test various promotion scenarios are going to start making this even easier.  This is where your strategy will really get into a power band – time to get creative and deploy customized offers but this is also time to refine your segmentation and refine it some more.

Right now as I write this, highly customized channel programs are novel and new.   Designing a program that you know is optimized for a particular partner is a great way to differentiate in today’s market, but customization is quickly becoming table stakes and people will tune out quickly when an offer doesn’t resonate with them. 

Use your data to learn what has moved the channel in the past, then segment and segment some more.  Make sure that your offer is something that is going to engage your target audience and move them into action. Ideally, your incentive management software gives you the flexibility to offer customized programs that will keep pace with your segmentation needs. 

After all, customization is caring, caring is connection and connection drives more sales.

A lifelong technology entrepreneur, Jason Atkins is the founder and CEO of 360insights.  360insights is the world’s first Channel Success Platform, allowing brands to run spiffs, rebates, co-op/MDF, and sell-through allowances all processed and paid with 100% audit and powerful analytics to predict what to do next. For more information, visit: http://www.360insights.com.

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