StrategyMix Blog

Is 1-to-1 the most effective channel marketing option?

1-to-1 Channel Marketing has the potential to solve many of the most difficult channel marketing problems. These include:

1. Ever declining response rates, particularly for email and telemarketing campaigns
2. A consequent reduction in qualified leads (MQLs and SQLs)
3. Negative ROI on many channel marketing program

In this blog, I provide an overview of the channel 1-to-1 concept and explain why it reverses many of the core principles of current B2B marketing.

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The problem beyond declining response rates

If we put declining response rates aside for a moment, I would say that the next biggest channel marketing problem to solve is that few of the "top sales people" within your channel partners are REALLY engaged in your marketing.

They are the ones who control the relationships with their most valuable customers and prospects - the ones you want to influence - yet, for the most part, these sales people do not get involved in your marketing. They are not engaged, do not contribute and often ignore your marketing efforts all together.

So how then do we get the top sales reps of our channel partners to totally engage in our marketing programs? And how do we simultaneously improve our response rates?

One answer is 1-to-1 Channel Marketing.

What is 1-to-1 Channel Marketing?

It's a micro marketing automation campaign designed to build a 1-to-1 relationship between a top sales person (within a partner company) and their high value prospects.

The key words here are micro, 1-to-1 and relationship.

What are the core principles behind the 1-to-1 Channel Marketing concept?

1. Provide valuable information

The first principle is that most prospects want to deal with a TRUSTED ADVISOR, and therefore, your top sales people should act as "information guides" to freely provide valuable information (with no strings attached) so that over time they become the "go to" advisor that prospects turn to when important decisions need to be made. This is an application of the law of reciprocity.

2. Increase relevance

Most content should be based on buyer journey and buyer persona principles to increase relevance (which is the key to improving response rates).

It is interesting that the direct marketing for most of the major IT vendors incorporate buyer journey and buyer persona principles, but when it comes to the channel these ideas go out the window. This should not be the case.

3. Provide independent views

As a rough guide, 30% to 50% of your content should be external, so it is seen as objective. With our most successful client, 40% of their content is external.

4. Build a relationship

What we need to do, is to slowly build a real, person-to-person relationship, between two individuals. This takes time and because it takes time to build trust, it cannot be hurried.

Why does the 1-to-1 concept turn the marketing world upside down?

The 1-to-1 concept is a huge change from "mass" to "micro". It completely reverses many of the core principles on which modern B2B marketing is based.

To a degree, its' a philosophical change from mass - large scale - industrial - impersonal marketing to micro - personalised - and relevant marketing.

So it's a change:

- From mass emails from "no reply@" (which is just rude) to a personal email from "John.Smith@"

- From a cold call from an external telemarketing agency to a call from John

- From "corporate marketing" to personal marketing, where you literally form a LinkedIn connection with John rather than with a major corporation

And the biggest change of all - this is a personalised marketing campaign that is designed and implemented for John (the salesman).

We do this because we need HIM or HER to engage in the lead generation process because we need to design a completely different way of doing lead generation. Simply because current lead generation methods are, as Seth Godin would say, broken.

So what does a Channel 1-to-1 program look like?

It's a sequence of marketing automation campaigns, probably run at 14 day intervals. 14 days seems to be the "goldilocks" solution. Less than 14 days is probably too frequent but more than 14 days is not frequent enough.

All communications are multi-channel, which includes emails, phone calls, InMail, letters, social media posts and LinkedIn connections.

Some communications can be run automatically. So, as an example, a marketing system like StrategyMix can easily "wake up" to send an email to Mary at a specific time on a set day. But other communications have to be run through what we call "instruction emails". This is an email that is sent to John to instruct John to call Mary, or connect with Mary or send Mary an InMail.

The sequence of communications will need to be tested and optimised through time, so that John's marketing program becomes as responsive as possible.

To make this work, we also have a "secret" ingredient. A dedicated "personal" marketing consultant (think personal trainer) who will work on each campaign to optimise the message timing and content for each sales person. As much as possible, we are looking to adopt his or her language, so the messaging becomes as authentic as possible.

What does the personal marketing consultant do?

First up, they need to customise the messaging for each communication, which is a copywriting process.

They also need to train the salesperson on how to think like a marketer - what to do and what not to do.

They are also there to make sure the salesperson builds relationships with new prospects and doesn't take the easy route and rely on existing relationships only. When building the database, we will pay special attention to all sources of existing relationships. This includes LinkedIn, Outlook and business cards that are sitting in the bottom draw.

For more information on this topic, you can read our blog on "How to build a responsive database".

Part of the consultants' job is to ensure that the salesperson stays "on program", even when they are extremely busy responding to tenders and closing deals.

Finally, they need to develop and manage social media strategies to promote the content, so this means LinkedIn group posts, etc.

We're allocating 3 hours per campaign for the personal marketing consultant. Each campaign will be a combination of personal emails and social media posts, together with appropriate follow-up from John, our salesman.

A different type of email

As we commented earlier, email response rates have been declining for several years, yet we all respond to emails every day. So what's the difference?

One difference is that we look for "real" emails and quickly filter out "HTML/Graphic Emails", which may comply with corporate design guide lines but very obviously look like a promotion. These emails are often deleted or ignored because few people have time to waste. They need to get on with responding to real emails.

The simple solution is to abandon the HTML/Graphic emails (in the face of fierce resistance from corporate marketing) and create an email that is more "real" and authentic. Note that it is not just the design that needs to change. It is also the language. In our early tests, the results have been impressive.

What are the potential benefits of a Channel 1-to-1 Marketing program?

The first and most visible benefit is that the top sales people of your partners will be totally engaged in the marketing and lead generation process, in a way that they have never been so engaged before.

Here is a quote from Cynthia Williams of TraceSecurity that expands on this benefit and is worth thinking about:

"I think the other great thing about this concept, aside from the fact it gets the top reps engaged and focused on your products as a vendor, is that you have direct access to the reseller's top reps"

Cynthia Williams, TraceSecurity, USA

The messaging will also be much more relevant and on target, as never before, because nobody really knows a prospect as well as their assigned Sales Executive and it is the Sales Executive who controls which prospects are put into and taken out of each marketing automation campaign.

So, as an example, the sales person may know that Mary has gone beyond the "unaware" stage and is now "looking at solutions". Marketing may not know this because John forgot to update the lead status in the CRM system. But as soon as he sees that Mary is in the wrong campaign, then he'll move her to the correct one.

What are the potential results?

When it comes to hard marketing metrics, what can you expect from a Channel 1-to-1 Marketing program?

1. Could you increase response rates by a factor of 3?

2. Can you double MQLs and SQLs?

3. Can you increase sales by 20% to 50%?

The answer is that you're never going to know unless you give it a try.

Should you consider a 6 month trial?

Why not run a trial. I won't take much of your time and won't cost you that much. What it will do is give you some hard data to answer these 4 questions:

1. Is the Channel 1-to-1 approach SIGNIFICANTLY more effective than ALL your other current marketing options?

2. Is the Channel 1-to-1 process SUSTAINABLE and scalable? Or will your sales people be very enthusiastic for FIVE weeks - and then lose interest?

3. How can the Channel 1-to-1 process, itself, be improved?

4. What RETURN ON INVESTMENT can you achieve through a Channel 1-to-1 program and will it be IMPRESSIVE?

What type of sales people should you select?

Note that this program is not for all sales people. It is designed for the top sales people of your top partners. The early selections have, however, been quite interesting.

The first reaction of many companies has been to run the trial in-house, with their own sales people, before expanding out to their channel partners. Others are looking to "spread their bets" by selecting 3 or 4 partners, all in different geographical regions.

But nearly all agree, that the most suitable sales person is likely to be someone who is a "thought leader". They probably have a propensity towards marketing and may have written a few blogs or dabbled in social media.

Next steps - what to do if you're interested in a trial

Obviously, you'll want to talk about pricing. Pricing is unlikely to be a problem.

You'll also want to talk about how to select, recruit and on-board your top sales people. We can help you with this.

In the first instance, you should contact us. We can then set up a conference call to talk through the mechanics of how it is implemented.

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