Most marketers never encounter the IT channel. It’s much like other marketing channels, of course – a mutually beneficial way for vendors and their partners to get products to end-customers. But IT channel marketing has a flavour of its own, with challenges that aren’t obvious to the newcomer. 

The first thing to know is that the IT channel is a group of highly skilled technology experts, with their boots on the ground in local markets that IT vendors like you want to reach. 

The big IT trends shape the channel, but the channel reacts in ways that add value to those trends. For example, while public cloud may be dominating in many areas, the channel has responded by serving businesses who prioritise data sovereignty, cost control, and avoiding lock-in. And while inflation and supply chain issues are creating economic problems for businesses, many are turning to their trusted providers in the channel to find the best-value solutions. 

So, how can you use IT channel marketing to increase the value of your partnerships with channel sellers and distributors? 

If you’re just getting to grips with creating channel campaigns, this primer is for you. It’s based on our years of experience. TBT Marketing has been working with IT vendors for more than 20 years, helping them create and deliver large-scale, multi-country campaigns. 

Which kinds of partners add the most value? Why is sustainability becoming a key differentiator in the channel? And how do you build the right campaign message? We’ll answer all these questions and more – let’s get started. 

Quickly, what is IT channel marketing all about?

IT channel marketing speaks not to end-customers but to channel partners. They are the distributors, resellers, and managed service providers (MSPs) who actually sell your solutions through to businesses. Marketing to them usually has three kinds of objective: 

That covers some of the basics. But there is one other goal we haven’t mentioned: the objectives for your own business. 

Maxing the value of channel partnerships – you need a strategy

Like all good partnerships, the IT channel works best when both sides benefit. It’s about mutual growth.

In the UK, the channel is growing faster than the economy is generally – by 5 – 10% from 2022 to 2023, according to research from one leading analyst. And as technologies like cloud, AI, edge computing, and digital collaboration become fundamental to how businesses work, it’s often channel partners who bring them all together in real solutions.

Partners add the most value when they can help you:

You need the right strategy to make that happen. At TBT Marketing, we build campaigns that engage channel partners across a range of networks – advertising, email, social media, telemarketing, the web, direct mail, and more.

Every campaign is different, as is every partner network. Effective strategies speak to the goals of partners and their customers, in ways that present a fresh opportunity.

Tapping into current IT channel trends

We said above that the IT channel has its own flavour. Technology is central. But partners are also facing a whole range of other challenges. At TBT Marketing, we’re constantly building our knowledge of the IT channel so we can help you connect with partners and strengthen your combined offering. 

Sustainability now has a business imperative 

Once a nice-to-have, sustainability is now a differentiator in the IT channel. Businesses need to reduce their energy consumption in the face of higher bills, and are also preparing for new environmental regulations. That has led to a change in buying habits – a new McKinsey study shows sales of products that claim to be sustainable grow much faster than products that don’t.

The channel has responded with innovation – developing new tools to reduce emissions and setting targets to reach net zero. How could you help them get there? 

Price pressures in a highly competitive market 

We’ve talked about the expertise and value of the channel, but let’s not pretend that value makes business easy for your partners. It’s a highly competitive market. And sellers are facing price rises at the moment, which are squeezing margins and forcing some to raise prices for end-customers. 

The partners who add the most value will win out. How can your offerings give them an edge? 

Expanding partner ecosystems 

We talked above about how some channel partners are experts in integrating different technologies. One example is the trend for converging IT and operational technologies (OT), such as manufacturing systems. Lenovo and Schneider Electric recently collaborated to build new edge computing solutions for smart factories – and IT channel partners are filling the system integrator role. 

How could your partners enable you to link up with other vendors to create new solutions? 

Get more advice

We hope this brief intro to IT channel marketing has given you a good start. There is, of course, much more to know. If you’d like to speak to one of TBT’s marketing experts, who are all about building effective campaigns in the channel, please contact us.