75% of world trade flowing is flowing indirectly through partners - channels.
There are two kinds of channels:
Sales channels focus on sales, not so much on delivery. Sales channels deliver either leads or orders to service partners such as service outsourcing partners, and nothing to do with the actual delivery of products and services. And, then there are Sales channels used to distribute perishables with focus on time to the customers.
Marketing Channels, ironically, are always Sales Channels but not necessarily the other way around. Marketing channels include sales and delivery related to the product or service. A good example of this kind of channel is a retail outlet.
Other ways to classify Channels
It is also common to think of channels in terms of how far removed the origin of the product or service from the end customer/consumer.
The direct channel is when the goods flow from the manufacturer to the consumer direct. This channel is not the topic of this article.
Then, there are two or three-tier distribution channels – manufacturer to retailer/wholesales to the consumer, and manufacturer to distributor to reseller to the consumer. Value-added reselling (VARs) is a variant of this 2nd type of channel. The reseller adds value on top of the original product (such as an installation service). VARs channel is quite popular in the high-tech industry.
Types of Channel Marketing
All the typical marketing focus in direct marketing such as consistent brand experience, 4 A’s of marketing, demand generation, and others apply to channel marketing as well. Channel marketing is then about using marketing automation, campaign management, social media management, content management, lead generation and management to channels. However, you have two kinds of an audience here to deal with – Channel partners that must be aligned to your marketing strategy, as well as the end customers.
Channel marketing is focused on communicating the value of your products and services to, with, through, and for channel partners
Omnichannel marketing, Multichannel marketing, and Cross-Channel marketing.
Multi-channel marketing- Multiple, but separate communication channels between the customers and the business.
Cross-channel marketing- Multiple and connected communication channels between the customers and the business.
Omni-channel marketing- Multiple and interactive communication channels. Not only these multiple channels are connected and communicate with each other, but they work seamlessly and simultaneously together to provide the customers with a unified experience across channels. The customer can be shopping at an e-commerce site, later continue the shopping in a retail store, and the experience will still be seamless.
Types of channel marketing that we are not covering in this article
Many other kinds of marketing can broadly be considered channel marketing. However, we have included them in this article. Some of them are listed below:
Affiliate marketing is where an affiliate earns a commission for marketing somebody else's products. The sales are tracked via affiliate links from one website to another.
Partner Marketing is popular in the high-tech sector. Partner marketing is about a joint Go-to-Marketing program between two or more companies. Nike and Apple collaboration is an excellent example of Partner Marketing
Alliances Marketing is very similar to Partner Marketing, but it tends to be deeper than the latter – from a strategic, time-horizon perspective. It can lead to joint ventures too.