Ahh, the self-serve portal. At first glance, it appears to be a great investment. Giving partners the campaigns and resources they need to execute integrated marketing campaigns seems like a great way to increase demand and grow your channel. And in theory, this is a great plan.

Many VARs don’t have the internal resources to build campaigns, manage them, and provide a healthy pipeline of qualified leads for themselves. Providing a library of assets at no cost can have a massive impact on the results of their marketing efforts.

Or at least that would be true if partners were actually using them.

AFV’s research reveals that 1 in 3 partners used a manufacturer provided, self-serve marketing platform for 5% or less of their overall marketing efforts in the last 6 months.

So why are partners not taking advantage of these great resources?

Too Many Platforms

Although manufacturers provide channel marketing platforms with the best intentions of offering an all-in-one tool, their partners often need them to integrate with their internal infrastructure. It can be extremely difficult to learn these various platforms. There are far too many tools with which they must navigate.

Secondly, let’s take a look at the partners perspective. Very few solution providers focus on a single manufacturer. For those that don’t, they are provided similar platforms for each manufacturer they partner with. This leads to several limitations on their team’s performance.

“Too much content. Not laid out in an easy way to find it and customize it.”

Learning Curve

Learning anything new always takes time, and marketing automation platforms are no exception. Even for marketers who have a strong grasp on concepts such as automation, lead scoring, and lead nurture must learn to navigate the nuances of a new platform.

For those that may not be as experienced a marketer, it is one thing to launch a campaign. But reading metrics, tracking lead progression, and communicating with sales for follow-up is no easy task. Especially if they don’t know where to find that information.

In reality, even the most intuitive platforms are difficult to learn, and most partners are not equipped to take advantage of the platforms in which you are investing.

“I hate dealing with technical support for the marketing portals.”

Time Limitations

Partners often lean on manufacturers for hands-on support because they don’t have the internal resources to manage everything on their own. In fact, ‘Not enough time’ was listed as the number 2 factor for keeping partners from using your platform more often.

Considering the multiple platforms partners are provided from each manufacturer and the learning curve required to properly utilize each, it’s evident that partners just simply don’t have the time to manage all of this.

“With as many partners as we have, searching for created content in a huge library takes too much time. I need someone to put three options in front of me so I can move to my next task.”

They Have their Own

For those partners who have already invested in a marketing automation platform of their own, good luck driving adoption of yours. Communication between apps and tools is a high priority for running a smooth marketing stack. It enhances the communication of a team to ensure close management of lead progression.

Attempting to disrupt this process is a marketer’s worst nightmare.

Partners who are already investing in marketing automation will not willingly disrupt their process to use your platform. They will be more than happy to accept your leads or content, but rest assured they will want to manage it from their own platform.

“Sometimes I feel like I could do it better myself because I know exactly what I want.”

Platform Adoption and Utilization are Down, so what can you do about it?

Self-serve marketing platforms are offered as all-in-one tools, but not all partners will leverage each option available.

Content hubs will likely be utilized by partners of all sizes, especially if they include customizable email templates, or the opportunity to co-brand collateral. However, the full capabilities of that platform have the highest impact on smaller partners—those who lack the marketing infrastructure to execute and manage campaigns on their own.

According to our research, 1 in 5 partners executed over 50% of their marketing activities through manufacturer platforms in the last 6 months.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that partners who lack the necessary marketing infrastructure, often lack the internal expertise. We have found that assigning a dedicated partner marketing manager (PMM) can significantly improve partner adoption and utilization of these platforms.

Want to see what else partners had to say?