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A Channel Marketer’s Fantasy: Closed Loop ROI Management

Marketers Fantasy

One of the biggest fears of a channel executive is making investment decisions with incomplete information on activities with uncertain forecasted outcomes. It is particularly anxiety producing to invest in marketing or sales actions, where the supplier marketer has little control over how it is planned, executed or measured. Channel executives today are being measured on the return they can generate on all channel investments and need more certainty in the way this process is managed.

Until recently, true closed loop channel investment management has been a utopian state that is simply out of reach. There has been a combination of too many uncontrollable factors and deficient business processes to make informed and confident decisions about where to invest.

Why Channel Investment Management Has Been So Hard in the Past

1) Lack of Easy to Manage Planning Process: Partner business planning, marketing planning, and performance management is frequently conducted using PowerPoint, Word, Excel, Google Docs, or on simple webforms provided in PRM systems. These disconnected and clunky process tools are difficult to manage, time-consuming, and do not provide a very satisfactory experience for partners or channel managers.

2) Lack of Consistent Outcome Forecasting Process: The only thing that is consistent about forecasting is inconsistency.  From partner-to-partner, plan-to-plan, activity-to-activity, different forecasting assumptions are made which makes it nearly impossible to make objective investment decisions.

3) Lack of Detailed / Effective Activity Management Process: Through-partner marketing activities and MDF investments are often (but not always) executed using multiple campaign systems that leads to inconsistent execution and measurement.

4) Lack of Efficient Budgeting and Funds Approval and Tracking Process: Too often, the MDF management and approval process is disconnected with the funds-management process leading to another fragmented step in the marketing management process.

5) Lack of Integration of Planning with Funds Management System: A very common issue in MDF management is the approval and allocation are disconnected / separated from the actual funds management process.

6) Lack of Integration of Campaign Outcome Tracking with Forecasting Process: Another very common issue is having campaign outcome tracking in a TCMA (Through Partner Marketing Automation System) or CRM system that is not connected with the original business and marketing planning system, with no ability to do performance to plan reporting on channel marketing investments.

7) Lack of Channel Funds ROI Calculation: Finally, there is a lack of the ability to easily / automatically provide ROI reporting on invested funds by partner and by campaign.

The channel marketing function in most companies is plagued with inefficient, fragmented systems that make investing in channel marketing programs and measuring performance and ROI much harder than it should be.  Solving this long list of issues requires an integrated workflow from beginning to end. Below is system design where all critical planning, execution, and performance management steps are part of one unified workflow.

A Channel Marketer’s Reality with Modern & Integrated Partner Planning & Performance Mgmt. Systems

Closed Loop Management

This integrated workflow of business process steps is enabled by best practice partner planning and performance management systems. These systems plug directly into PRM & CRM systems you may already have in place and complement / integrate with your TCMA and funds management systems you may currently be using.  Systems like Successful Channels along with integrations can put this workflow into action for your business and complement your current systems.

  1. The Partner Joint Business Plan: In most organizations this can be as simple as a partner commitment to increase revenues over prior year.  Or it can be a much more detailed joint vendor / partner business plan with a broad range of metrics, objectives, strategies and detailed actions for supporting the achievement of this business plan.
    • Level 1 Business Plan: A simple set of program goals and measuresMeter Charts
    • Level 2 Business Plan: A more detailed sales and profit forecastChoose Growth Plan
    • Level 3 Business Plan: A business plan with a full detailed action plan and MDF request
  2. Marketing Scorecard: Partner-led marketing campaign success is often dependent on the skills and quality of the campaigns, lists, and processes used to execute demand generation programs. Assessing your partner’s marketing capabilities and related resources is a key factor in increasing your confidence of your marketing return on investment. And the best part – they can be implemented / completed in minutes and provide a blueprint to partner success.Marketing StopLight Scorecard
  3. Marketing Plan and ROI Forecast: The next step in building a measurable marketing investment plan is to create a reliable forecast for the outcome you may be able to generate from a partner marketing investment. This is the use of a guided marketing planning process that will create reliably consistent plans, forecasts, and ROI calculations.Marketing Plan
  4. Detailed Marketing Action Plan: A connected plan that defines the activities, strategies, and tactics that are part of your plan.Alignment Summary
  5. MDF Budget Allocation and Request: As a part of the same action plan, include an MDF request complete with an ROI justification and campaign rationale.MDF Summary Report
  6. Integrated Funds Management Process: As a part of the same marketing plan and MDF allocation process, streamline the integration of requests into compliant funds management systems.
  7. Marketing Execution and Proof of Performance: Integrating your TCMA system into this workflow will improve consistency of execution and ease of measurability.
  8. Marketing Activity Tracking: The key in this process step is the integration of your TCMA activity tracking back to your marketing and business planning process. Bringing this information together is the key to a round-trip planning and performance management process.Marketing Activity
  9. Marketing Performance-to-Plan Measurement:  Once this information is together, true marketing investment ROI is possible. This typically takes two forms:
    • Direct Metrics: Marketing campaigns are typically focused on generating interest and demand for your products and services. With business-to-business marketing, many solutions have long multi-quarter / multi-year sales cycles. So, measuring sales is not always the best metric. Measures like leads, opportunities, proposals, demos, etc. are often the best direct campaign indicators. ROI can be extrapolated based on estimated close rates at each level of performance.
    • Derived Metrics: These are the ultimate results of marketing campaigns including registered deals and marketing influenced revenue. These are measured by assigning a campaign ID number automatically to responders, tracking them through the sales cycle, and reporting the results as they are generated by ID number.

This channel marketer’s vision is no longer fantasy. It is now a reality with integrated partner marketing planning and ROI forecasting tools available that hold these processes together. Successful Channels provides the tools featured in this article to fill gaps in your PRM, TCMA, and funds management systems. Successful Channels serves to tie this together in an easy to manage workflow that makes planning, forecasting, funds management and performance management a unified and simple process to manage.

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