Best Practices for Developing a Through Channel Marketing Strategy

Published on
October 25, 2023

Creating an effective Through Channel Marketing (TCM) strategy is essential for software businesses looking to expand their reach and maximize sales through channel partners. Whether you're a software vendor, cloud service provider (CSP), or managed service provider (MSP), a well-structured TCM strategy can help you leverage the strengths of your channel partners to drive growth.  

TCM enables businesses to tap into new markets and customer segments that may be beyond their direct reach. By leveraging the existing networks and customer bases of channel partners, software companies can effectively extend their market presence. It can be a cost-effective marketing strategy compared to traditional advertising and marketing campaigns.  

Instead of spending heavily on customer acquisition, companies can leverage the resources and expertise of their partners, reducing overall marketing expenses.

Collaborative TCM efforts can strengthen relationships with channel partners. By providing valuable marketing support and resources, companies can motivate partners to prioritize their products and services over competitors.

In this blog, we'll explore the best practices for developing a successful Through Channel Marketing strategy.

A Step-by-Step Guide on Devising a Through Channel Marketing Strategy

Let’s take a look at the best practices in developing a full-proof TCM Strategy.

1. Understanding Through Channel Marketing  

Comprehending Through Channel Marketing is crucial for businesses seeking to expand their market reach and drive growth through collaborations with channel partners. The process of understanding TCM involves several key steps:

a. Define Through Channel Marketing (TCM):

Start by gaining a clear understanding of what TCM entails. TCM is a strategy in which a company collaborates with intermediaries like distributors, resellers, or affiliates to market and sell its products or services. Unlike traditional marketing, TCM leverages the expertise and networks of channel partners to reach a broader audience.

b. Differentiate TCM from Traditional Marketing:  

Recognize the distinctions between TCM and traditional marketing approaches. In TCM, the focus shifts from direct customer engagement to partnering with intermediaries who have existing customer relationships and distribution networks.

c. Identify the Role of Channel Partners:  

Understand the critical role that channel partners play in TCM. They act as an extension of your brand, representing your products or services to customers. Recognize that their success is intertwined with yours.

d. Explore Collaborative Marketing:  

Emphasize collaboration as a cornerstone of TCM. In TCM, companies and channel partners work together to develop marketing strategies, share resources, and align objectives to achieve mutual success.

e. Identify Your Target Audience:  

Acknowledge the significance of identifying your target audience in TCM. Define your ideal customer profiles, understand their needs, preferences, and behaviors, and recognize the role channel partners play in reaching and influencing these customers.

f. Segment and Analyze Your Audience:  

Segment your target audience into distinct groups based on demographics, psychographics, and behavior. Analyze these segments to tailor marketing strategies and messages effectively.

g. Establish Clear Objectives:  

Set specific and measurable objectives for your TCM strategy. Determine what you aim to achieve in terms of sales, market expansion, customer acquisition, and partner engagement.

h. Create Value for Channel Partners:  

Recognize that successful TCM requires providing value to channel partners. Offer them incentives, training, marketing resources, and support to motivate their active participation.

i. Collaborative Planning:

Work closely with channel partners to plan joint marketing initiatives, campaigns, and programs. Align on goals, target audiences, messaging, and resources.

j. Implement and Monitor TCM Initiatives:

Execute the collaborative marketing initiatives as planned. Monitor their progress, track key performance indicators (KPIs), and assess the impact of your TCM efforts regularly.

2. Identifying Your Target Audience  

Identifying your target audience is a pivotal step in developing an effective Through Channel Marketing strategy. By understanding the significance of audience segmentation and analysis, businesses can ensure that their TCM efforts are efficient, relevant, and data-driven.

The significance of identifying your target audience in TCM:

Identifying your target audience is the cornerstone of any marketing strategy, including TCM. It's essential in TCM for several reasons:

Efficiency: By knowing your audience, you can direct your marketing efforts and resources where they are most likely to yield results. This minimizes wasted resources and maximizes the impact of your TCM strategy.

Relevance: Tailoring your messages, content, and campaigns to your specific audience ensures that your marketing efforts are relevant and resonate with potential customers. This increases the likelihood of engagement and conversions.

Alignment with Channel Partners: Your channel partners also benefit from knowing your target audience. It helps them understand who they should be targeting and how they can align their efforts with your brand's messaging and objectives.

Data-Driven Decisions: Understanding your audience allows you to make data-driven decisions. You can measure the effectiveness of your TCM strategy, track audience engagement, and adapt your approach based on real-time insights.

How to segment and analyze your audience effectively:

Here are some effective tips for segmenting and analyzing your audience.

Demographic Data: Start by collecting basic demographic information such as age, gender, location, income level, and education. This data provides a foundational understanding of your audience.

Psychographic Insights: Dive deeper by examining psychographic factors such as interests, values, lifestyle choices, and attitudes. This helps you create messaging that resonates on a personal level.

Behavioral Patterns: Analyze customer behavior, including purchase history, browsing habits, and engagement with previous marketing campaigns. This data can help predict future behavior and preferences.

Customer Personas: Create detailed customer personas that represent different segments of your audience. Personas include fictional characters that embody the characteristics and behaviors of specific audience groups.

Market Research: Conduct market research and competitor analysis to gain insights into your target audience's pain points, preferences, and unmet needs. This information can guide product development and marketing strategies.

Surveys and Feedback: Collect direct feedback from your existing customers and channel partners. Surveys and interviews can provide valuable insights into their perceptions, needs, and expectations.

3. Partner Selection and Onboarding  

By carefully choosing the right channel partners and providing them with effective onboarding and training, businesses can build strong, collaborative relationships that expand market reach, enhance brand reputation, and drive growth.

The importance of choosing the right channel partners:

Selecting the right channel partners is pivotal to the success of your TCM strategy. Here's why it matters:

Alignment with Brand Values: Partnering with organizations that share your values and objectives ensures that your brand message remains consistent and authentic throughout the channel. This alignment builds trust with customers.

Access to Target Markets: Channel partners often have established networks and customer bases that you may not reach directly. Choosing partners with access to your target markets expands your market reach.

Expertise and Reputation: Reputable channel partners bring industry expertise and credibility. Their reputation can enhance the perceived value of your products or services.

Collaborative Potential: The right partners are willing to collaborate, communicate effectively, and align their goals with yours. This cooperation fosters a productive and mutually beneficial relationship.

Efficiency and Cost-Effectiveness: Partnering with organizations that already operate in your target markets can be more cost-effective than trying to penetrate these markets independently. It streamlines your go-to-market strategy.

Best practices for partner onboarding and training:

Once you've identified the right channel partners, the next step is to onboard and train them effectively to ensure they represent your brand and products optimally:  

Clear Onboarding Process: Develop a well-defined onboarding process that outlines roles, responsibilities, and expectations. Ensure partners understand your company's culture and values from the beginning.

Comprehensive Training Materials: Create comprehensive training materials that cover product knowledge, marketing strategies, and sales techniques. Make these resources easily accessible to partners.

On-Demand Training: Offer on-demand training resources such as webinars, video tutorials, and documentation. This flexibility allows partners to learn at their own pace.

Product Familiarity: Ensure partners have a deep understanding of your products or services. This knowledge is essential for effective marketing and sales efforts.

Market Insights: Provide partners with market insights and competitor information. This equips them to address customer concerns and competitive challenges effectively.

Regular Communication: Maintain open lines of communication with your channel partners. Regular meetings, updates, and feedback sessions foster collaboration and mutual understanding.

Sales Enablement: Equip partners with sales enablement tools, including sales decks, brochures, and templates. These resources help them communicate your value proposition effectively.

Incentives and Rewards: Implement incentive programs to motivate partners. Reward them for meeting sales targets, executing successful marketing campaigns, or participating in training programs.

4. Coordinating Marketing Efforts  

By aligning strategies, setting common goals, and fostering collaboration and communication, companies can reap the benefits of expanded market reach, cost-efficiency, and improved brand visibility.

How to align your marketing strategies with those of your channel partners:

Coordinating marketing efforts with channel partners is a dynamic process that requires collaboration, communication, and a shared vision. Here's how to ensure alignment:  

Joint Strategy Development: Collaborate with your channel partners to develop a joint marketing strategy. This strategy should outline clear objectives, target audiences, and key performance indicators (KPIs).

Mutual Goal Setting: Establish common goals that benefit both your company and your channel partners. This can include sales targets, lead generation objectives, or market share goals.

Segmentation and Targeting: Work together to segment the market and identify specific customer personas. Tailor marketing efforts to address the unique needs and preferences of these segments.

Content and Campaign Collaboration: Create marketing content and campaigns that can be customized and localized by your channel partners. Provide them with the necessary assets and tools to execute these campaigns effectively.

Clear Messaging: Ensure that your brand messaging is consistent across all marketing materials, whether created by your company or your channel partners. Consistency builds trust and brand recognition.

Lead Management and Tracking: Implement lead management processes that enable both parties to track leads and conversions. Establish a clear system for passing leads back and forth to maximize sales opportunities.

Data Sharing: Share relevant data and insights with your channel partners. This can include market research, customer feedback, and performance analytics. Data-driven decisions benefit everyone.

Regular Collaboration Meetings: Schedule regular meetings with channel partners to review progress, address challenges, and adjust strategies as needed. These meetings foster a sense of teamwork and accountability.

The benefits of collaboration and communication:

Here are some of the advantages of effective collaboration and communication in TCM.

Enhanced Market Reach: Collaboration with channel partners allows you to tap into their existing customer bases and distribution networks. This significantly extends your market reach without the need for heavy investments.

Cost-Efficiency: Sharing marketing efforts with channel partners can be cost-effective compared to executing standalone campaigns. It reduces the burden on individual companies while maximizing returns.

Improved Brand Visibility: Consistent messaging and coordinated efforts across the channel create a more robust brand presence in the market. This heightened visibility can attract more customers and build brand loyalty.

Optimized Resources: By sharing resources and expertise, you can optimize your marketing efforts. Channel partners bring local knowledge and industry-specific insights that can be invaluable in targeting niche markets.

Speed to Market: Collaboration enables faster time-to-market for new products or promotions. Channel partners can swiftly adapt and execute marketing campaigns in their respective markets.

Feedback and Adaptation: Regular communication with channel partners allows for quick feedback loops. You can adapt marketing strategies based on real-time insights and changing market dynamics.

Mutual Growth: A successful TCM strategy leads to mutual growth. When channel partners succeed in selling your products or services, they are more likely to prioritize your offerings over competitors.

5. Providing Marketing Resources  

Empowering partners with co-branded materials, content creation resources, and collateral support enables them to effectively market your products or services. By fostering collaboration and sharing these resources, you create a win-win scenario where both your company and your channel partners benefit from expanded market reach and increased sales.

Types of marketing resources and tools that can be provided to channel partners:

Here are some of the essential marketing resources for channel partners to focus on.

Co-Branding Materials: Co-branded materials are a powerful way to align your brand with your channel partners'. Provide partners with co-branded templates for promotional materials, including brochures, flyers, and banners. Ensure that these materials are customizable to accommodate partner-specific branding elements.

Content Creation Support: Offer content creation resources such as blog post templates, social media content calendars, and email marketing templates. Encourage partners to leverage these tools to create engaging and consistent content that aligns with your brand's messaging.

Digital Marketing Tools: Equip channel partners with digital marketing tools such as search engine optimization (SEO) guidelines, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising resources, and social media advertising assets. These tools can help partners optimize their online presence and reach a wider audience.

Lead Generation Materials: Provide partners with lead generation materials, including landing page templates, lead magnets (e.g., e-books or whitepapers), and lead capture forms. These resources can help partners collect and nurture leads effectively.

Market Research Insights: Share market research data, competitor analysis, and industry trends with your channel partners. This information can guide their marketing strategies and help them understand the evolving needs of their target audience.

Training and Webinars: Offer webinars and training sessions on various marketing topics, including product knowledge, sales techniques, and digital marketing best practices. These educational resources empower partners to execute marketing strategies effectively.

Email Marketing Support: Provide email marketing tools, templates, and best practices to assist partners in creating compelling email campaigns. Offer guidance on segmentation and personalization to maximize email marketing impact.

Analytics and Reporting: Grant access to analytics and reporting tools that help partners track the performance of their marketing efforts. Encourage data-driven decision-making and provide support for interpreting results.

Insights into Co-Branding, Content Creation, and Collateral Support:

Take a look at the in-and-outs of solid marketing resources.

Co-branding helps channel partners establish trust and credibility by associating their brand with yours. Ensure that co-branded materials are user-friendly and allow partners to insert their logos and contact information seamlessly.

Encourage channel partners to create valuable and relevant content that resonates with their specific audience. Provide content creation guidelines and templates that maintain brand consistency while allowing for personalization.

Collaborate with partners to create collateral materials that address their customers' pain points. Offer support in designing brochures, product catalogs, and sales presentations that effectively communicate the value of your products or services.

6. Performance Tracking and Analytics  

Effective TCM relies on meticulous tracking and measurement of performance. By implementing key performance indicators (KPIs) and regularly analyzing data, you can gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of your TCM strategy. This data-driven approach allows you to make informed decisions, refine your strategy, and drive continuous improvement.

Significance of tracking and measuring the effectiveness of TCM efforts:

Performance tracking and analytics are integral components of any marketing strategy, and TCM is no exception. Here's why they are crucial in the context of TCM:

Data-Driven Decision-Making: By tracking TCM performance, you gather valuable data and insights that inform your decisions. These insights enable you to allocate resources efficiently, optimize campaigns, and refine your strategy for better results.

Accountability: Performance tracking holds both your company and channel partners accountable for their roles in the TCM strategy. It allows you to assess whether goals and objectives are being met and who is contributing to success.

Continuous Improvement: Regular analysis of TCM performance helps you identify areas that need improvement. It allows you to adapt to changing market conditions and customer preferences, keeping your strategy relevant and effective.

Resource Allocation: Performance data assists in the allocation of marketing resources. By understanding what works and what doesn't, you can focus your efforts and resources on strategies that yield the highest ROI.

Examples of Key Performance Indicators for TCM:

Here are some prominent examples of TCM KPIs.

Sales Metrics:

  • Total Sales: Measure the total sales generated through channel partners. Compare this data over time to track growth and identify trends.
  • Sales Conversion Rate: Calculate the percentage of leads that convert into paying customers. This KPI helps assess the effectiveness of sales efforts.
  • Revenue per Partner: Determine how much revenue each channel partner contributes to your overall sales. This reveals the performance of individual partners.

Lead Generation and Nurturing:

  • Lead Generation Rate: Monitor the number of leads generated by each channel partner. Compare it to set targets to assess lead generation effectiveness.
  • Lead Conversion Rate: Measure the percentage of leads that progress through the sales funnel. A higher conversion rate indicates more efficient lead nurturing.
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): Calculate the cost of acquiring a new customer through TCM efforts. Lowering CAC while maintaining quality is a positive sign.

Marketing Effectiveness:

  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): Evaluate the success of digital marketing campaigns by tracking the percentage of clicks on ads or promotional content.
  • Content Engagement: Measure how often content created by channel partners is engaged with (e.g., likes, shares, comments) to gauge its relevance and impact.
  • Website Traffic: Analyze the amount of traffic driven to your website through TCM efforts. Monitor the quality of this traffic by looking at bounce rates and time spent on the site.

Partner Performance:

  • Partner Participation Rate: Track the level of engagement and participation of channel partners in TCM activities and campaigns.
  • Partner Satisfaction: Collect feedback from channel partners regarding their satisfaction with the TCM program. Their input can reveal areas for improvement.

Return on Investment (ROI):

  • TCM ROI: Calculate the return on investment specifically for your TCM efforts. This helps determine the profitability of your TCM strategy.

Customer Feedback and Loyalty:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): Survey customers to gauge their loyalty and likelihood to recommend your products or services. High NPS scores indicate satisfied customers.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Assess the long-term value of customers acquired through TCM. A higher CLV indicates that TCM efforts are attracting valuable customers.

7. Incentives and Rewards  

Incentives and rewards are indispensable tools for nurturing productive channel partner relationships and maximizing the effectiveness of your Through Channel Marketing strategy. By aligning partner interests, recognizing their efforts, and offering tangible benefits, you can create a win-win scenario that drives growth and success for both your company and your channel partners.

The role of incentives and rewards in motivating channel partners:

Incentives and rewards serve as powerful tools for motivating channel partners to actively participate in your TCM strategy. Here's why they matter:

Alignment of Interests: Incentive programs align the interests of your company with those of your channel partners. When partners are rewarded for achieving specific goals and objectives, they are more likely to prioritize your products or services over competitors'.

Performance Enhancement: Incentives and rewards encourage channel partners to perform at their best. They drive partners to reach or exceed sales targets, resulting in increased sales and revenue for your company.

Enhanced Partner Loyalty: Offering incentives and rewards demonstrates your commitment to your channel partners' success. This, in turn, fosters loyalty and long-term partnerships, which are critical in TCM.

Competitive Advantage: A well-structured incentive program can give your company a competitive edge in the market. Channel partners are more likely to choose to work with you when they see the potential for higher earnings and benefits.

Data and Feedback: Incentive programs often involve tracking and reporting, providing valuable data on partner performance. This data allows you to assess the effectiveness of your TCM strategy and make data-driven adjustments.

Ideas for incentive programs and their impact on TCM:

Incentives and rewards can significantly impact TCM by motivating channel partners to actively participate in marketing and sales efforts. This can lead to increased market reach, higher sales, and stronger partner relationships. A well-designed incentive program not only benefits channel partners but also boosts your company's bottom line and competitiveness in the market.

Sales-Based Incentives:

  • Commission Increases: Offer channel partners higher commissions or bonuses for reaching or exceeding specific sales targets. This directly ties earnings to performance.
  • Tiered Rewards: Create tiered incentive programs where partners earn higher rewards as they achieve progressively higher sales volumes.

Marketing Support Incentives:  

  • Co-Op Marketing Funds: Provide financial assistance or marketing funds to channel partners to support joint marketing efforts. Partners can use these funds for advertising, events, or promotional campaigns.
  • MDF (Market Development Funds): Allocate funds to channel partners to help them develop new markets or invest in marketing activities in specific regions.

Training and Education Incentives:  

  • Certification Programs: Reward partners for completing product or industry certifications. This enhances their product knowledge and sales capabilities.
  • Training Subsidies: Offer subsidies for partner training programs, workshops, or courses that enhance their marketing and sales skills.

Performance Recognition Incentives:  

  • Awards and Recognition: Recognize top-performing channel partners through awards, certificates, or public acknowledgment. This recognition can boost partner morale and motivation.
  • Exclusive Access: Provide exclusive access to product launches, beta testing, or promotional events to partners who consistently perform well.

Lead Generation and Conversion Incentives:  

  • Lead Bonuses: Reward partners for generating high-quality leads that result in sales. This incentivizes partners to focus on lead quality rather than just quantity.
  • Conversion Bonuses: Offer bonuses for converting leads into customers. This encourages partners to actively engage and nurture leads throughout the sales process.

Customer Retention Incentives:

  • Renewal Commissions: Compensate partners for customer renewals or ongoing subscriptions. This incentivizes partners to maintain strong customer relationships.
  • Customer Satisfaction Bonuses: Reward partners for achieving high customer satisfaction scores or Net Promoter Scores (NPS).

8. Case Studies and Success Stories  

Real-world examples of businesses excelling in Through Channel Marketing, such as Cisco Systems, Microsoft, and HubSpot, demonstrate the power of collaboration with channel partners. Their successful strategies and tactics offer valuable insights for businesses looking to develop and refine their own TCM strategies.

The success stories of Cisco Systems, Microsoft, and HubSpot in TCM reveal several key strategies and tactics that have contributed to their achievements:

Resource Empowerment: All three companies provide their channel partners with a wide array of resources, including marketing materials, training, and certification programs. These resources empower partners to effectively market and sell their products and services.  

Strong Partner Relationships: Building and maintaining strong relationships with channel partners is a common thread in these success stories. Regular communication, joint marketing initiatives, and collaborative programs strengthen partner loyalty and engagement.  

Incentives and Rewards: Incentive programs, such as performance-based bonuses and higher margins for specific products or services, motivate partners to actively participate in TCM efforts.

Market Expansion: These companies actively support partners in entering new markets and reaching untapped customer segments, contributing to their overall growth.

Real-world examples of businesses that have excelled in TCM:

Here are some case studies and success stories of businesses that have thrived in TCM.

a. Cisco Systems: Cisco Systems, a global leader in networking technology, has a comprehensive TCM strategy. They actively collaborate with channel partners, providing them with a wide range of resources, including marketing collateral, training, and lead generation support.


  • Cisco's Partner Marketing Central platform offers partners co-branded marketing materials and templates, making it easier for them to create and execute marketing campaigns.
  • They offer training and certification programs to ensure that channel partners have the expertise to sell Cisco's complex products effectively.
  • Cisco tracks partner performance and provides incentives based on sales, certifications, and customer satisfaction.


Cisco's TCM strategy has helped them maintain a strong global presence while continually expanding into new markets. Their close partnership with channel intermediaries has resulted in increased sales and a wider customer base.  

b. Microsoft: Microsoft is known for its robust TCM strategy. They work closely with channel partners to distribute and sell their software and cloud services worldwide.


  • Microsoft's Partner Network provides partners with a wealth of resources, including marketing materials, training, and access to Microsoft's customer base.
  • They incentivize partners to focus on cloud services by offering higher margins for selling these services.
  • Microsoft supports partners with joint marketing campaigns, co-selling initiatives, and lead-sharing programs.


Microsoft's TCM approach has led to significant growth in their cloud services business. By nurturing strong partner relationships and providing resources, they have expanded their market reach and increased their revenue.

c. HubSpot: HubSpot, a leading inbound marketing and sales platform, has a well-structured TCM program that involves working closely with agencies and partners to promote their platform.


  • HubSpot offers partner agencies specialized training and certification in inbound marketing, sales, and the use of their platform.
  • They provide agencies with access to co-branded marketing materials and tools to help them generate leads and provide value to their clients.
  • HubSpot has a partner directory that connects potential customers with certified agencies.


HubSpot's TCM strategy has led to rapid partner growth and a thriving ecosystem of agencies offering inbound marketing services. This has contributed to HubSpot's overall market leadership in the industry.  

Summing Up

Through Channel Marketing is a powerful strategy that can significantly enhance a company's market reach, cost-efficiency, and partner relationships. In today's competitive business landscape, developing a successful TCM strategy is not just an option but a necessity.  

By following these best practices and emphasizing collaboration and communication with your channel partners, you can unlock the full potential of TCM and achieve sustainable growth in your industry.

Furthermore, a dedicated agency like HSV Digital can help maximize the benefits of Through Channel Marketing with proper guidance and direction in heading your business towards the right track. Contact us today to connect with our team of experts and embark on this exciting journey together.

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