Borrowing a term from biology makes sense for distributed businesses, where networks are dynamic and complex, and members share success.
The term ‘ecosystem’ appears with increasing frequency in business communications. We usually associate ecosystems with environmental issues and the great outdoors. In the business world, the term ecosystem has been applied to the networks and participants involved in an organization that deliver a product or service, be it manufacturing or cloud services. Due to the term ecosystem’s rising popularity, it’s time we all familiarize ourselves with it, especially those of us working in distributed businesses.
What Is a Channel Partner Ecosystem?
A channel partner ecosystem is a network of channel partners — sometimes called local partners, dealers, agents, franchisees, or affiliates — that deliver a service or product on behalf of a national brand. A strong channel partner ecosystem is crucial for brands to distribute their message in local markets and earn more revenue through channel sales. An ecosystem is also important for channel partners to have easy access to marketing resources, such as brand assets, customizable ad templates, do-it-for-me services, and learning tools.
How to Build a Channel Partner Ecosystem
Building a channel partner ecosystem requires thinking about your network differently and building a channel strategy.
Here’s how to build a channel partner ecosystem:
1. Think Collaboratively Instead of Individually
Utilizing your channel partners’ networks and strengths will improve your own customers’ experience and increase your ROI. You are a network not a node. In a channel marketing ecosystem, revenue streams can come from many directions, because everything is interconnected.
2. Develop a Channel Strategy
Define how you want partners to participate in your channel strategy, what the most effective tactics are to reach your audience, and educate partners on how to execute your local marketing plan to create a positive perception of your brand.
3. Communicate With Your Partner Ecosystem
A thriving channel marketing ecosystem requires regular communication with the members of that ecosystem. Create a channel partner email program to keep partners engaged, informed, and ensure your messaging, branding, and promotional material stay consistent across the ecosystem.
4. Foster Marketing Maturity in Your Ecosystem
More marketing mature local partners achieve greater revenue growth. Brands must remove obstacles to marketing program participation and help partners understand the quantifiable ways that investing in marketing drives revenue for them. The more marketing mature partners an ecosystem contains, more that system will thrive.
5. Find the Right Platform
To meet the ecosystems’ broad needs, brands should find an all-in-one through-channel marketing automation platform that supports local partners and manages, executes, and tracks channel marketing through brand management, fund management, and marketing execution features. Ecosystems are complex. Complexity requires a simple, efficient solution.
How Brands Thrive With Channel Partner Ecosystems
Because members of channel partner ecosystems affect each other and the brand as a whole, each member must stay flexible and adaptable in order to not only thrive, but to survive. One important idea here is that members of channel partner ecosystems create more value together than they ever could create individually. Participants can choose to compete or cooperate to reach their shared business objectives.
Ways to increase alignment and reduce friction within your channel partner ecosystem include:
- Making it easy for channel partners to access and customize brand assets and marketing materials by providing them with an all-in-one local marketing platform.
- Empowering your partners to use the most effective tactics by giving them access to learning resources and do-it-for-me services.
- Evaluating and incentivizing your partners’ marketing performance.
- Making it easy for them to view and access funds, and to submit reimbursement claims, if you provide MDF or co-op funds to your partners.
- Keeping partners engaged in your channel marketing program.
Ecosystems Are the Future of Business
Understanding the basics of channel partner ecosystems is increasingly important to your brand’s success. Brands who do not embrace the business ecosystem concept risk lagging behind. Those who embrace the concept will remain ahead of the curve. Channel marketing is just as naturalist John Muir meant in the 1800s when he said, “Tug on anything in nature and you will find it connected to everything else.”
Are Your Partners Aligned in a Channel Partner Ecosystem?
Contact BrandMuscle to build a channel partner ecosystem that drives more revenue for your brand.