Vendor Management – Synchronize Your Marketing
Independent of the planning process, you’ll want to leverage the marketing resources of vendor partners. Where there are sufficient incentives, synchronize your product development and marketing efforts to align with the vendor rhythm of business. Example incentives include joint development funds (particularly if you represent a first mover for a target industry), joint marketing funds (move quickly after their fiscal year funds are allocated), and breadth program benefits (lower effort to negotiate and manage).
Platform vendors may have different marketing teams such as product-centric marketing (influenced by product groups), industry marketing (owning the message to an industry segment), and/or audience marketing (targeting developers, consumers, enterprise, or small/medium businesses). Since you’ve already learned about the partners organization (in the Advise stage), you’ll know who to ask to understand the target stories and product themes the vendor wants to convey. Assess how your own product development and marketing messaging will align, then make the case for preferred placement in marketing channels. Examples include:
Case studies, online profiles, literature
Sponsorships and co-branded advertising
Speaking slots in national and regional launch events
Reference speaker at internal meetings (e.g., vendor’s annual sales events)
Reference speaker at vendor community events (e.g., partner conference, user conference)
Tele-marketing (joint branded event with jointly funded tele-marketing leads development)
Synchronize your marketing requests with vendor budget cycles so you’re in consideration at the time marketing decisions are made. Start engaging your account manager to determine marketing priorities a couple months before their new fiscal year and engage marketing teams with proposals as new budgets are approved and IO codes are released. Revisit with additional marketing suggestions the last month of each quarter to determine if there are funds that would be “banked” if not spent. If the vendor marketing team isn’t expert at forecasting or the downstream teams aren’t expert at spending, you may find there are incremental funds to be had.
Next time, I’ll wrap up the Vendor Leverage topic by discussing go-to-market tactics to use in order accelerate sales.