Channel Marketing: The Complete Guide to Channel Success

By Kevin McCann

Channel Marketing: The Complete Guide to Channel Success

In our hyper-competitive world, it’s become increasingly difficult for companies to succeed in a single channel, which is why channel marketing has become a go-to growth strategy.

The attractiveness of collaborating with other businesses that can quickly provide you with instant visibility, a broader distribution network, and access to new markets has grown rapidly.

Using channel marketing is an effective way to grow your revenue and reach customers in new ways. Today, over 57% of companies rely on partners to acquire new customers.

This blog post will talk about channel marketing strategies and how they can help you win more customers. By the end of reading this blog, your goal is to have enough knowledge about channel marketing that you can start building a channel marketing strategy for your business.

What is Channel Marketing?

A “channel” is a medium through which goods flow. An example of a channel could be as complicated as a network of distributors to a local farmer.

The term “channel marketing” refers to the strategy that allows you to work with other businesses with a customer base that overlaps with yours.

Channel Marketing vs. Marketing Channels

What’s the difference between channel marketing and marketing channels? The two terms are often used together but mean very different things.

Channel Marketing vs. Marketing Channels

A marketing channel is a term used to describe the various methods employed by businesses to advertise their products or services. Marketing channels include TV, Radio, Newspapers (print), Direct Mailing/Postal marketing, Internet Advertising, Search engine optimization, and Social Media.

Whereas channel marketing is the strategy that focuses on building an ecosystem of related businesses to promote your product or service.

However, it’s essential to know that a successful channel marketing campaign will utilize marketing channels.

The Benefits of Channel Marketing

Every company has limitations with its sales, marketing, and distribution capabilities. These limitations are exaggerated for larger organizations with extensive product offerings that need to be distributed globally.

Rather than invest in all the channels necessary to promote your products, it’s a better strategy for most to invest in developing strategic partnerships with new channels since 92% of consumers trust referrals from brands they know.

92% of consumers trust referrals from brands they know

Here are just a few of the benefits of channel marketing:

Increased Revenue: By collaborating with other businesses, you’ll be able to generate more revenue opportunities by getting access to their client base.

Cost-Effective: Working with channel partners is can be much more cost-effective than hiring the teams required to develop your own channels.

Cost Per Lead: The channel partners you work with will be able to provide leads for your business at a much lower cost than if you were to buy advertising from traditional channels.

Multipliers/Leverage: Companies that gain strategic channel partners with significant distribution can multiple their business reach and sales overnight.

Hassle-Free: Channel marketers enjoy all sorts of benefits, such as not having to market products directly and focusing on making connections with their audience instead.

Develop and Channel Marketing Strategy for Your Business

Channel marketing is an effective way to increase revenue, but success will be difficult. Each channel has its own audience and obstacles. Channel marketing strategies work the best if they are systematically planned and executed over the lifetime of the channel relationship.

The first step to developing partnerships is to identify the channel partners.

Ask yourself the following:

  • What channel market do I want to grow in?
  • Who are my channel partners, and what channels does each channel partner work within best?
  • How can I contact potential channel partners for partnerships?

Next, you’ll need to develop a plan of action. Consider the following:

  • Are there any other benefits or considerations besides cost?
  • What tactics will I use to grow within this channel?
  • How can I help the channel partner with their goals and objectives?
  • Are there any agreements that need to be written for us to work together as partners?

The channel partner you choose needs to be a good fit with how they will fulfill their role in your channel strategy.

A Cautionary Note

Channel marketing is not a “quick and easy” strategy. It takes time, effort, thoughtfulness, and creativity to develop channel relations that are mutually beneficial for all parties involved. However, the benefit of investing your time into channels with a channel marketing strategy will give your business a competitive advantage. While your competitors are competing using traditional costly customer acquisition strategies like paid advertisements, you’ll leverage your channel partners to acquire customers.

Channel Marketing Strategies

So you want to add a channel marketing strategy to your business, but you may not know what tactics you can begin implementing today. It can be challenging to determine what actions to take, especially if you have little to no experience building a channel marketing strategy. Instead of having you guess what methods work best, we’ve put together a list of ideas. There are dozens of other popular channel marketing strategies out there, but the list below is a good place that any company can use today to start, build, and grow their channel marketing strategy:

Cross Promotion

Work with channel partners to jointly promote and sell your products. For example, you might work with a manufacturer or distributor of the product that is complementary to yours, an expert in distribution channels for your product, or someone who offers complementary services related to your business. You may also want to consider partnering up on marketing campaigns so both companies can benefit from joint promotions.

Use Online Databases to Find Partners

Source channel partner opportunities by searching online databases such as LinkedIn and other directories for businesses. Develop a list of channel partner prospects using these tools before reaching out.

Look for Complimentary Offerings

If you’re looking for a channel partner, be sure to find someone who has complementary products or services so both businesses can benefit from the partnership. You want to make sure your channel partner offers something different from what you provide to avoid competing within the same industry space.

Make Content Sharing Easy

Establishing a formal relationship is just the beginning of an effective channel partner relationship. Although your channel partner may not specifically ask for assets to promote/push your offering, your team must continually provide new sales collateral to your partners.

Create a Dedicated Web Portal

Make it easy to be your partner. Organizing all relevant information inside a dedicated web portal that your partners can log in to is a great way to give your partners a memorable experience and make them more effective as a partner.

Provide Strong Financial Incentives

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” That’s equally true of your partners. Provide strong financial incentives to your partners to encourage them to be active channel partners. A bonus is if you make it easy for channel partners to see their financial performance.

Create Partnership Tiers

You can incentivize partners to be more engaged and hit milestones by creating partnership tiers. For example, if a partner hits specific sales objectives, they will be upgraded to the next partnership tier, giving them additional marketing collateral, financial incentives, and support.

Use Video in Your Partnership Training

We recommend creating videos that you can share with your channel partners, as 91% of people prefer visual content. Videos give you a way to add your personality, communicate your excitement, and demonstrate precisely what your partners should do to succeed.

How Channel Marketing Can Help You Get More Customers

Channel marketing gives companies access to broader markets than they may otherwise have had without keeping up with customer demands on their own. This means more opportunities for sales and growth for your company! When used strategically, channel marketing will help increase brand awareness, increase sales, and help you reach new customers.

How Channel Marketing Has Changed

Channel marketing has changed over time as technology has advanced. There is a greater emphasis on channel partners than there was in the past because it’s now possible to maintain relationships with channel partners located farther away from your business location or even around the world! The internet allows for easier communication between companies, making channel marketing more beneficial and lucrative for both parties involved.

Customers who've been referred are 4x more likely to convert

What are the best channel marketing partners to work with?


Resellers can be a powerful channel to get access to new customers in the channel market. Resellers are often closer to end consumers than manufacturers and distributors, so they are more likely to understand what channels work best for their customer demographics.


Affiliates can be an effective channel to reach new customers. Affiliates are typically online marketers that you pay commission in exchange for sending them traffic and sales, so they’re great at generating leads as well as finding customers in online channels.


Consultants are an excellent channel that will help you learn more about the channel marketing process. Hiring channel partners to consult on your strategy can be beneficial in terms of identifying potential roadblocks and helping develop an effective channel marketing plan for your company.


Distributors are channels that will give you access to new customers who are not in your current channel market. Distributors often have broader networks and distribution channels than manufacturers or resellers, so they’re great for reaching out to people outside of the channel.

Four types of channel marketing relationships

Manufacturer to Customer

Manufacturers often have more knowledge of the market and know what channels work best for their customers, so they’re great at reaching people who aren’t in your current channel mix. Many manufacturers also sell directly to the end-user, so this may be your only option for channel partners in some industries that don’t rely on distributors or retailers. An example of this would be Apple who manufactures and sells its products directly to consumers.

Manufacturer to Retailer to Customer

Technology has made it easier for retailers to work directly with the manufacturers. For this reason, many products follow the manufacturer-to-retailer-to-customer channel marketing relationship.

Manufacturer to Wholesaler to Customer

Some manufacturers sell to wholesalers, who in turn sell to customers. This channel marketing relationship is often used for perishable items or when selling to smaller markets with less access to the channel. A popular example of this relationship is Costco.

Manufacturer to Distributor to Reseller to Customer

A manufacturer produces the goods and then relies on their distribution network to distribute the product to resellers, who in turn sell the product to the end-user.

Ending Thoughts

We hope this channel marketing guide has helped you understand channel marketing and how you can implement channel marketings tactics to grow your revenue.

It takes time and research in order to develop an effective channel marketing plan. You must put effort into understanding what channels work best for your customers and use data from to figure out which tactics provide the best results.

If you are an executive, business owner, or an entrepreneur starting a new venture and considering expanding the use of a channel marketing strategy in your revenue generation efforts? We highly recommend scheduling a strategy session with our team: