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As a mid-market B2B manufacturing company, you understand the challenges associated with going to market with your indirect sales channel. No doubt, many of your indirect sales partners are smaller entities or local businesses and are not typically marketing savvy. Your indirect sales network may also find the transformation to digital marketing to be a little daunting. The way to resolve these and many other indirect sales growth challenges is with Through-Channel Marketing Automation.

What is Through-Channel Marketing Automation?

Through-channel marketing automation (TCMA) is a platform designed to help companies who sell indirectly or through a channel, such as manufacturing, software and technology, and financial services. TCMA gives organizations in channel and indirect sales the ability to scale marketing efforts and ensure a consistent message across all partner markets. Additionally, TCMA platforms allow organizations to track all indirect partners’ marketing efforts and offer support for partners.

Why Manufacturers Need TCMA

Automation took marketing teams by storm by allowing marketers to scale personalized conversations with leads, but industries relying on indirect distribution, like B2B manufacturing, struggled to adapt automation platforms and practices for their indirect model—if they even made the attempt.

Through-Channel Marketing Automation addresses the unique challenges of partner marketing and implements the ease and scalability of automation for companies utilizing indirect distribution. With TCMA, manufacturers can now:

  • Improve Speed of Execution
  • Gain Better Control of Brand Consistency
  • Maximize ROI of Marketing Assets
  • Build Stronger Partner Relationships

Improve Speed of Execution

With a TCMA solution, your partners have a variety of pre-approved marketing materials available to them. This saves time creating materials and waiting for approval, giving you and your partners more time to generate leads and close deals.

Gain Better Control of Brand Consistency

One drawback of indirect sales is leaving some of the marketing to your partners, and TCMA allows you to develop a more consistent experience across all your partner markets. Materials provided in TCMA content libraries allow partners to find and use approved campaigns without being responsible for developing messaging for your brand.

Maximize ROI of Marketing Assets

A TCMA solution can provide more opportunities to maximize the ROI of marketing materials your business already has. Stocking online content libraries with larger content offers they can use on their websites for lead generation gets more mileage out of those offers and builds your thought leadership.

Build Stronger Partner Relationships

TCMA is an investment in your partners’ success, and their success means greater profitability for both you and your partners. Profitable relationships are stronger and easier to maintain, leading to lower partner churn.

What to Include In Your TCMA Strategy

An effective TCMA strategy is robust and covers everything marketers need in the twenty-first century to reach their audiences, as well as the tools to train partners with the platform and effectively using the assets available to them.

Partner Management Tools

  • Campaign & Content Libraries: A resource containing all the information and materials you make available to partners for their marketing efforts.
  • Training Materials: Materials dedicated to partner training to understand, use, and sell your products effectively.
  • Progress Tracking: TCMA platforms allow you to track what partners are doing, such as what campaigns they’ve gotten and metrics on campaign success.

Materials for Partners

  • Content Offers: Resources of customer-focused information that develop thought leadership around your industry. These offers could include whitepapers, case studies, and ebooks with opportunities for partners to co-brand the materials and use for lead generation on their websites.
  • Campaign-in-a-Box: Not all partners have the same capacity to develop and distribute marketing materials. For partners with fewer resources, campaigns-in-a-box offer a full expertly developed campaign with all materials (email and social media copy, brochures, content offers, ect) and a guide for executing the campaign.
  • Online Content: High-resolution product images and organization logos, email and social media copy (including suggested hashtags), and blog posts or other resources to link to on their website for partners to include in their digital marketing efforts.
  • Print Material: Product brochures, signage, novelty promotional items (pens, mouse pads, tshirts, ect)
  • Brand Guide: Documentation of company logos, color pallets, and guidelines for use; ensure all partners are notified of changes to the brand guide in a timely manner

Key Performance Indicators for TCMA

One major challenge of marketing for indirect distribution is finding and tracking key performance indicators. You, as the manufacturer, have invested in a solution, so how do you know it’s driving results? Here are some KPIs for measuring the effectiveness of through channel marketing automation:

  • Partner Engagement
  • Leads Generated
  • Lead-to-Close Time
  • Market Development Fund Usage

Partner Engagement

When looking at partner engagement, take into account how many campaigns are executed, the type of campaigns, and which partners are using them. Partners might lean toward a certain product line or style of marketing based on their local market. Measuring partner engagement helps inform what kinds of assets to offer in the future as well as areas where partners might need more training or justification for use, such as social media advertising.

Leads Generated

One goal of traditional marketing automation is to extend the organization’s reach and generate more leads, and the same goes for TCMA as well. Lead generation by your partners should increase when TCMA is introduced.

Lead-to-Close Ratio

Increased lead-to-close ratio shows that TCMA is working to attract the target audience, properly nurture leads, and produce more sales in the end.

Market Development Fund Usage

TCMA adoption should come with increased usage of MDF. If adoption seems slow or use of MDF doesn’t change much, consider looking at your organization’s MDF process and if it’s holding up some smaller partners from participating.

How to Support Partners with TCMA

When it comes to B2B manufacturing, your partner companies likely have a variety of skill levels when it comes to marketing in the digital age. Some are still struggling to adjust while others are ahead of the curve. TCMA allows you to offer different options depending on your partners’ skill with digital marketing.

There are four types of partners you’re likely working with in your indirect distribution network:

  • No Help Needed: These partners are typically larger and have their own skilled marketing team, and they don’t need much support, if any, from your organization beyond brand guidelines.
  • A Little Help: These partners have a dedicated marketing team, but they might be lacking in skill or size to fully take the reins on marketing your product. Some supplemental materials with customizable options helps them execute and manage campaigns.
  • Some Help: These partners don’t necessarily have a marketing team—they might have a single marketer on their team or several people who are responsible for marketing initiatives along with other tasks. They understand the importance of marketing, but they require a lot of the campaign creation to be done for them in order to succeed.
  • A Lot of Help: These partners don’t have any marketing-specific staff and might not fully understand the importance of marketing projects. They are most likely to need marketing training as well as options like campaigns-in-a-box to get started.

TCMA allows you to offer a variety of customizable campaign options to suit all your partners’ skill levels. You can also use TCMA platforms to track partners’ progress with the campaigns they use.

Opportunities for Collaboration

Tracking partner progress through TCMA means you can identify partners who excel at utilizing the tools and drive high results. Once you’ve identified some top marketing players among your partner base, you can further those relationships by offering to collaborate on future campaigns. Their local market knowledge combined with the power of your brand can produce highly effective campaigns that work for all your partners.


Industries relying on indirect distribution have struggled to adapt to the digital age of marketing, and Through-Channel Marketing Automation is a response to this struggle. Working with a partner base presents its own challenges to effectively scaling personalized marketing efforts, such as varied partner skill levels and difficulty measuring success. TCMA provides manufacturers and their partners the options and transparency to execute modern marketing techniques in the indirect distribution space.