How to Choose a TCMA Vendor

James Morse | March 13, 2020

Choosing a through-channel marketing automation (TCMA) partner can seem like a daunting task. Most marketing teams feel they need multiple TCMA vendors to cover all their needs while being able to grow with their channel needs over the years to come. Believe it or not, your TCMA needs should be met within an all-in-one platform that’s built to support both sophisticated and unsophisticated channel partners, as well as manage, execute, and track channel marketing with unprecedented speed, simplicity, and accuracy.

We believe there are three main pillars that support your through-channel marketing automation needs: brand management, fund management, and marketing services. There are some key features to look for in both your TCMA platform and partner. We have articulated a few of these below but have accompanied this with a sample RFP which meticulously explains the items your ideal TCMA vendor should offer.

Brand Management

Distributed marketing has evolved quite a bit in the last decade. Marketing teams need more than just a digital asset management (DAM) or an ad builder solution. Through-channel marketing automation platforms need to have these solutions’ capabilities with the key integrations to support channel partners delivering the right media via the right channel to the right audience at the right time.

Simplify and Organize

An easy user experience may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many platforms make it difficult for channel partners to even find the right content. Platforms need to enable channel partners to find more than just the usual postcard they send each month.

To help channel partners better target customers at every point during the path to purchase, content should be intuitively organized and easy to navigate, grouped by campaigns and initiatives. Whether it be print collateral, emails, social media images, or display banners, all of these should be customized. If a logo needs to be updated, for example, it should change throughout the system, saving time on edits, and eliminating erroneous versions.

Dealing With Regional Variability

Gating variable and non-variable assets by user group or region needs to work for you. It’s not just about creating content for Ohio and separate content for Pennsylvania because your images and legal copy are different between states. Your TCMA platform should be able to have one asset that applies the variable gating parameters within the asset itself. This helps streamline the amount of content you need, drive down costs, and make updates down the road quicker and more strategic.

Allow Your Channel Partners to Customize and Co-Brand

Managing your brand goes beyond the assets you allow your channel partners to customize and co-brand. Ensuring they have the proper and best-in-class paths to execute the content is essential. Your TCMA platform should provide native integrations with Salesforce Marketing Cloud and other email service providers that will scrub against your unsubscribe lists and provide fundamental email reporting back to both the channel partner and your corporate marketing team. These integrations only begin to capture the number of crucial automations needed to allow channel partners to market you brand more effectively.

Fund Management

Organizations manage funds for their channel partners in a plethora of ways. Some provide small budgets to be spent on a corporate approved e-commerce store. Others provide millions of dollars across their channel partners while requiring proof of performance to guarantee the brand is being correctly portrayed across many different marketing tactics. No matter how you structure your fund program, your TCMA vendor should be capable of enabling utilization through the platform and offer consultation to assist you with evolving your programs to better meet the challenges you and your channel partners may face.

Through-channel marketing automation platforms with brand management and fund management capabilities give channel partners one less stop along the way to marketing your brand, and that ultimately leads to higher engagement. Providing the channel partner with an easy-to-use platform to facilitate budgets, pre-approvals (e.g. branding and funding), proof of performance, and funds reimbursement will give you better insight into how your channel is marketing and how much they are investing in your brand at the local level.

Marketing Services

Consolidation is key to success with marketing execution services. The last thing you want is your channel partner trying to manage your brand at the local level by utilizing a handful of different vendors that you don’t have relationships with. We segment your marketing services needs into three buckets:

Creative Services and Print

Resources to easily manage custom creative requests within your brand guidelines, like resize requests for a local church bulletin or yearbook ad, and expertise to manage print at a cost that smaller partners can digest. Most of your channel doesn’t have the budget or need for 10,000 flyers, so flexibility prevents waste and saves them money.

Media Placement and Events

Scalability to assist your channel partners to purchase the right media placements at a negotiated rate, and a repository of prequalified local events, complemented with access to event materials that support pre- and post-event efforts.

Social and Digital

Allow channel partners to publish content, monitor their social activity, engage with their social communities, promote key posts, manage online reputations, and optimize online search.

Consolidation and Integration

Choosing a TCMA vendor doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Consolidation and integration are key. Seek an all-in-one platform to manage, execute, and track channel marketing activity, and make sure it plays nice with your existing technology.

Partner With a Best-in-Class TCMA Vendor

Want to learn more about BrandMuscle’s TCMA platform? Explore our solutions:

  • Brand management: Enable local channel partners to personalize and execute brand and legal compliant marketing campaigns.
  • Fund management: Optimize your marketing strategy with flexible MDF and co-op programs for your partners.
  • Marketing execution: Help your marketing channel partners implement effective, scalable, and brand compliant marketing campaigns that drive business impact.

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