Use a Customer Lens to Improve Your Focus

I work directly with channel partners to learn more about the marketing challenges they face. I’ve learned that by keeping my mouth closed and ears open is invaluable. Just listening uncovers a wealth of opportunity. These partners are facing unique obstacles to achieving goals, and, unfortunately, their vendors don’t always understand. Why? Because they’re viewing the marketing from their own perspective, making assumptions about the needs of their vital channel partners.

Recently, I delivered a set of “how to” marketing guides to channel partners, based on listening to their responses to the question, “What do you need to advance your marketing?” I gave them materials to help them better understand email marketing, social networking, understanding marketing ROI, and strategic planning. It was all basic information.

One reseller responded with a request for more guides, a consultation, and a strategic planning session. He told me these materials hit a 10 out of 10 in terms of importance and usefulness for his business. His vendor, however, thought that such efforts were not their responsibility. Their focus was more product-specific than general marketing education. This myopia created a problem for the VAR who didn’t know what he didn’t know!

We need to understand that the word “partner” is a two-way street. The term inherently refers to a relationship. And, to be mutually beneficial, this connection demands a healthy mix of information sharing, listening, and responding that flows from one side to the other—and back.

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