Channel Partner Marketing: Who Are You Targeting?

Buyer personas are the key to channel partner marketing.Powerful channel partner marketing begins with a clear understanding of who you’re targeting. You want to identify your ideal buyer personas, so you can more easily attract and capture those types of people as leads and customers.

To help illustrate this point, let’s look at an example.

Who done it?

A crime has been committed, and it’s your job to find out what it was and who did it. You hire two experts to gather all the info they can on the crime and the criminal, and you ask them to share their findings.

Expert A presents this information:

  • The criminal is a male age 40-45
  • Height: 5’10”-6’; weight 210 lb. with a muscular build
  • Bald with a goatee
  • Drives a black Honda Civic
  • Wears Oakley sunglasses
  • Lives in Lorain County, Ohio
  • The crime was a stolen 100 Grand candy bar from an employee’s cubicle
  • The crime was committed out of revenge for someone taking the last donut

Expert B presents the following:

  • Crime was petty theft
  • The criminal is a human, most likely male
  • He has a pulse and enjoys eating, sleeping, breathing, and short runs on the sidewalk

Which expert would you hire to help you solve the case? Hopefully the answer is obvious.

To be successful, “profile” your target audience

While this is an extreme (and silly) example, it isn’t far off from many of the telecom channel partners we speak to about their marketing. When we ask, “Who are you targeting?” they usually answer, “We can help anyone!”

While of course you can service anyone with a pulse, it doesn’t make sense from a marketing perspective. Without a focus, your message, campaigns, and overall marketing strategies will lack the punch they could have.

So before you spend another dollar on anything channel partner marketing related, complete the following exercise. This will help you define your buyer personas, or like in our example, “profile your criminal.”

Discover your buyer personas

Take a look at a list of your current customers. Use your CRM or an Excel spreadsheet to help you track each contact and the quantities of each category.

  • Who are the decision makers?
  • The influencers?
  • Researchers?
  • Anyone else involved in the buying process?

At this stage, we want to cast a wide net and analyze everyone involved and what their involvement is. This will help you immensely later on.

Next, let’s add your top 25 prospects to the list. There could be some overlap here with your current customers, but if you’re targeting a new market segment, this could be totally different. Ask the same questions as above and keep track of your answers.

Finally, group the similar types of people together, and this should help you identify your personas. Most channel partners we work with have the following common personas:

  • SMB owner
  • IT Director / CIO
  • CFO

Not surprisingly, the IT / telecom buying process is increasing in complexity with more people involved than ever before. Check out this guide to attracting IT buyers for step-by-step info.

Research each buyer persona

Once you have your different personas identified, get to know as much as you can about each of them. Remember our criminal profile? Follow the same pattern and go both wide and deep on the information you gather.

  • Demographic dataAge range, gender, nationality, primary language, educational background, etc.
  • Behavioral data: Likes and dislikes, brand loyalties, interests, and hobbies.
  • Marketing dataBlogs they read, newsletters they subscribe to, how they stay up to date with market trends, conferences they attend, social media outlets they use, etc.

Hopefully you already know some of these things by virtue of your relationship with your customers, but other items may require further research. You can research via online surveys, or you may want to conduct in-person or phone interviews.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • What are your biggest pain points, questions, and concerns as they relate to your role?
  • What keeps you up at night?
  • What types of Google searches do you do?
  • What problems, if solved, would make your work easier?
  • Can you quantify how much it would help you (time/money saved, etc.)?
  • Where do you get your info? Magazines, events, or social platforms you participate in?

Add questions as you need to. Learn as much as possible about your personas, their pain, their preferences, and their behaviors. Armed with this information, all your future marketing strategies will be more targeted, and therefore, more powerful.

Here’s more in-depth information on creating buyer personas for the telecom channel.

Stay tuned next week as we discuss the next step in your channel partner marketing journey: using this buyer persona information to create stand-out messaging.

About The Author

Angela Leavitt


With 15 years of experience in sales and marketing, Angela Leavitt creates targeted and effective marketing strategies for companies of all sizes in the B2B tech space, especially the telecom, IT, and cloud industries. Angela founded Mojo Marketing in 2010, a full-service marketing agency that has served more than 150 tech companies.

View all articles by Angela