As markets mature and products become commoditized, customers are seeking to satisfy higher-level needs rather than basic desires. Their attention has turned to social issues such as poverty and environmental destruction, and when choosing products, a major criterion is whether or not they can identify with a company’s approach and efforts to address these issues. These changes have affected the way companies choose and use channels in many ways. Since many social issues cannot be solved by the company alone, collaboration with appropriate partners has become more essential than ever before. In this issue, we would like to discuss why channel partners are important for companies and how to select and collaborate with them.。
What are channel partners?
It is a complex economic entity, a mixture of companies, customers, and employees. Each is a company with its own mission, vision, values, and business model, and at the same time, each is a customer with needs and wants. As technology advances and globalization makes business activities more complex, channel partners are increasingly important because it is difficult for a company to complete all of its activities on its own. Channel partners are collaborators, drivers of change in the world, and creative partners in creating greater value.
There are many different types of channel partners. Here we take a closer look at three types of channel partners: ①channel partners as collaborative partners, ②channel partners as drivers of cultural change, and ③channel partners as creative collaborators.
①Channel partners as collaborators
Understand the importance of shared value and select compatible partners
Mutual understanding of purpose, identity, and value are critical in selecting channel partners. In particular, since values are related to the core beliefs of the organization, it is necessary to determine the essence of the values. Unless the partner is truly interested in and sympathetic to the values that the company holds dear, a gap in values will eventually be exposed and the results will not be good.
To avoid this, companies need to market value to their channel partners. Let’s start by understanding the unique value of channel partners. Collaboration is like marriage. Understand each other, negotiate a win-win-win situation, and enter into a fair contract based on a horizontal relationship. It is essential to share essential values, trust each other, and aim in the same direction for the long term.
②Channel partners as drivers of cultural change
Spreading the story and marketing the value of your company
No matter how great the value of a company’s offerings may be, it is meaningless if it is not conveyed to target customers. It would be better if the company could approach customers directly, but in reality, there are often intermediaries between the company and its customers. Therefore, companies need to find channel partners who can market their value and help them spread their brand story.
For example, if a company has the value of being environmentally conscious, it is essential to partner with suppliers who share and support the use of sustainable materials and environmentally conscious production practices to keep their values alive. Since their role is not only to sell products to their customers but also to educate them on the benefits of choosing green products, they must share the same fundamental values to be a suitable channel partner.
③Channel partners as creative collaborators
Relationships, cooperation, and collaboration are valued
To successfully collaborate with channel partners, companies need to understand the profit contribution of their products from the partners’ perspective and regularly share information, and develop joint strategies. Then, to ensure that placing your products in their stores will benefit and satisfy them, you need to actively engage in joint marketing and in-store promotions to demonstrate your interest in their business and your willingness to cooperate with them.
From a value chain perspective, companies must continue to work with their various channel partners to identify opportunities that benefit both parties. If there are multiple channel partners, it is also important to ensure that they are working together and not competing for customers.
For companies of the future, channel selection and channel management begin with finding channel partners who share a common purpose, identity, and intrinsic value. Then, by integrating with partners and bringing integrity to the brand story, you will be better able to deliver on your activities.
Moving to Value-Driven Marketing, What are Mission, Vision, and Values?