The 2112 Group estimates that IT and Telecom providers will generate almost $200 billion in revenue via their channel sales organizations in 2020. To accomplish this, these vendors will spend millions of dollars on solutions to better enable their sales partners to market their products and acquire customers. Unfortunately, these solutions rarely provide the ROI that the vendors are hoping for. York IE’s latest investment, Spark Your Channel, has a vision to change that.
Founded by channel veteran and thought leader Heather K. Margolis, Spark Your Channel intends to be the Through-Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA) Platform partners actually use. Heather spent the last decade founding and running Channel Maven Consulting, a strategic consulting firm and channel marketing agency specializing in the technology/IT channel. This experience provided her firsthand knowledge of the space and helped her identify the biggest pain point for both vendors and channel partners throughout the industry- through-channel demand generation.
Through-channel demand generation is how vendors support lead generation through their sales partners by providing marketing content and tools for their partners. Heather’s experiences showed her that partners were either not getting results from current solutions or not using the platforms in the first place. At Channel Maven, Heather and her team heard usage rates ranging from 7 to 17 percent even though most of the platforms were free for the partners to use. Heather, and her team, have built Spark Your Channel to solve the issues they encountered over the last decade and are well positioned to be the leader in Through Channel Marketing Automation.
Spark Your Channel is a Through Channel Marketing Automation platform that enables channel partners’ sales and marketing teams to efficiently personalize and share vendor-provided multimedia content, such as webinars, podcasts and especially video. To make sure all assets are accessible from one place, Spark also supports personalization and sharing of text and graphic-based content, such as ebooks, sales sheets, presentations and infographics. The solution enables partners to share content in a way that allows vendors to see statistics about how the content is used and viewed. The ability for channel partners to personalize content and the transparency provided to the vendors from the usage metrics make Spark Your Channel’s platform one that both parties will want to use.
Spark Your Channel’s initial focus on video is important to note as competing solutions are centered on email, even though video has proven to be dramatically more effective in generating leads. According to Optinmonster, marketers and salespeople who use video gain 66% more leads.
Another key component to Spark Your Channel’s platform is the ease in which it allows vendors to comply with data privacy rules. With Spark Your Channel, partners don’t risk being fined via CAN-SPAM laws, GDPR, CCPA or any future regulations because they don’t have to load their contacts into a platform they don’t purchase a license for as they do with most others. Partners can use the Spark platform without compromising their leads or data privacy by loading their customer contact lists but still giving vendors tracking and performance metrics.
Technology, Telecom and IT channels will be the initial industries targeted, but Spark Your Channel also can be used for through-channel marketing in other industries like automotive, medical device/pharmaceuticals, insurance and financial services channels. The company conservatively estimates these verticals represent a ~$1 billion market opportunity using a bottoms-up methodology. Research firm, Forrester, estimates Through-Channel Marketing Automation will grow to $2.5B by 2023.
Heather and team have a well devised go-to-market plan that starts with a roster of over 200 clients from Channel Maven. Heather engaged with several Channel Maven customers, including several Fortune 50 companies, during the production of Spark Your Channel’s platform to gain their insight and help ensure product-market fit. This process helped result in multiple PoCs lined up for when the product launched in late February. More importantly, Heather comprised an advisory council of partners to understand why they don’t use current solutions and what they really need to drive demand.
York IE likes to invest in founders who are experts in their space and Heather is the definition of that. After working in channel marketing roles for EMC, EqualLogic, Dell, and Kadient, Heather started her consulting firm and agency Channel Maven Consulting in early 2009. Her go-to-market plan consisted of blogging about issues she saw in the market and heavily leveraging LinkedIn to expand her audience. Heather spent the next ten years as the CEO of Channel Maven building her team and providing strategic channel and marketing consulting to hundreds of IT channel organizations. During this period Heather saw the potential value of a software platform that could embody these best practices and Spark Your Channel was born.