I was recently asked if it is a ‘best practice’ to create content for end-users and the company’s distributor and channel partners (sales partners).  Is it common for content or marketing managers to target specific content to those segments and what is the best way to go about it? Whether we’re talking about a B2B or B2C company, it’s very common for a company to sell through distributors and channel partners, but also market directly to end-users.

If you think about it, Coke and Toyota do not sell their products directly to us.  Coke sells to retailers and distributors, then we buy Coke from retailers and distributors, Coke’s sales partners. We don’t buy cars directly from Toyota but instead buy from Toyota’s dealers. As consumers, any coordination between the distributor and the Toyota may be invisible to us, as we tend to focus on the big and splashy advertising campaigns.

In general, there are two major categories of content for sales partners:

  • training-oriented content to help sales partners to sell (sell-in) and,
  • marketing-oriented content for sales partners to share with their customers (sell-through).

Let’s use car manufacturers as an example, they train their dealers for the upcoming new models, new features, promotions and offer recommendations. At the same time, car manufacturers also create feature guides and relevant collateral for distributors to share with us. On the surface, sales partner content and end-user/consumer content seem to be totally different segments without commonalities. In reality, their content requirements are very similar. Sales partners want to educate and influence their customers to close sales, consumers want to have information about your products before making a purchase.

Some content such as “Why buy this product?”, “What are the new features and user benefits?” apply to both sales partners and end-users.

Any “Top 10 list” created for sales partners can easily be configured and repurposed for end-users. The creative for new marketing campaigns can easily be scaled to collateral and pamphlets for sell-in and pass-through content used by sales partners.

On the B2B side, I have discovered it’s incredibly useful to understand the list of content being created for our sales team or sales partners.

I won’t use the content as is for the marketing communications, but I will take some content, make it less technical and transform it to be more end-user oriented content. Below are examples of the content comparison between sales partners and consumers.  By all means, it is not a complete list. But it certainly gives you some ideas on the content recommendation for these two segments.

sell in, sell out, pass through content types

If you are creating content for both sales partners and end-users, create a list of content that you think will apply to both.

Start with a small list first. If you are creating only end-user or sales partner content, please make an effort to reach out to the other content marketing managers and understand their content roadmap. It will save time and effort if you leverage each other’s content. When end users are researching your products or considering various options before purchasing, you want to make sure they have relevant content, content that is easily searchable online. Distributor and channel partners love to know your content is available to customers, after all, they are one of your sales channels and are selling your products on your behalf.

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