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Internet Marketing When Your Not Internet Selling

What is the difference between marketing and selling your products or services on the internet and using the internet just to market but not sell your products or services? A sales and distribution channel that must be maintained when not selling over the internet.

Maintaining such channels means that marketing groups must develop and manage an additional layer of communications that resonates between them and ultimately the customer. This is seemingly a straight forward management task. However in this age of fast moving internet marketing, the additional channel has evolved into a potential  source for many risks of miscommunication and incorrect positioning.

The next time a new piece of collateral is posted on your web site ask the question, was the piece reviewed by the channel partners and were they trained before the piece was posted? This is one of many potential disasters. Here are some of the issues that now exist with channel management that are a direct result of the outbound internet based marketing revolution:

  1. Positioning, evangelizing, and motivating channels require a different level of marketing than direct customer marketing. With products and services becoming more complex over time, the opportunity to fail to properly position grows. This results in a channel not operating at its potential.
  2. Comprehending, retaining and clarity when recalling the benefits of a product or service in front of the customer also becomes a challenge. If the channel is not exclusive, it surely means that marketing groups must employ a continual training program to build proper knowledge over time.
  3. Starting from zero when there is high channel resource turnover.

These risks cause the development costs for a product or service launch to rise significantly as internet outbound marketing activities ramp. These extra costs, in time and money, are almost always underestimated during the launch planning cycle. Sometimes it is because the dynamics are not really predictable until the team launches the product or service and executes a first training with the channel.

So how can these escalating costs become manageable once again? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Make sure the messaging used for ALL outbound marketing activities is well coordinated with the training material for the channel.  Easier said then done. Often times different marketing professionals and in some cases different departments manage these tasks independently. Coordination typically comes in the form of a one hour or so a week meeting during the launch planning cycle. However there is still a lot of room for missteps. One way to handle this is to assemble an independent review committee (which can be as simple as one or two people not involved in the launch planning details) to review all material. They can take a “forest from the trees” view and identify potential problem areas.
  2. Involve the distribution channel team early in the process, and allow them to stay engaged through the process. They are a great resource for ensuring the messages resonate and stick with their own people.
  3. If your channel partner is an independent company, or even an affiliate, move from passive to active web site linking with the channel partner. Many vendors today allow the partner to display a logo and sentence or two on their web site. But transitioning to an active style of linking, where both the vendor and the channel partner must maintain messaging instills an inherent discipline in the process that acts as a good check and balance to make sure the messages are not drifting. There is no substitute for constant reviewing and refining. And doing it together makes it a stronger process for everyone.

The cost of not watching the details of channel marketing is ultimately a lost customer opportunity. It is almost certain that potential target customers will review in detail the web information of both the vendor and the channel. Any misalignments in positioning and messaging creates confusion and loss of interest. These actions result in extra stress on the selling process and can cause sales cycles to lengthen.

Taking the proper steps to manage this correctly however can result in shorter sales cycles because the distribution channel is properly moving through the sales cycle with consistent positioning and messagingPsychology Articles, The customer acquisition scaling factor that attract vendors to use the channels in the first place really works!

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Phil Casini is currently Managing Partner for Advance Tech Marketing (ATM). ATM offers individual skills training for marketing professionals. Http:// ATM is also available for consulting services .Phil is a 26 year veteran of the high tech industry, including 13 years as Vice President of Marketing for Cirrus Logic, Cradle Technologies, and Sonics, Inc. Phil has also held positions at Dallas Semiconductor and Intel.

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