Thursday, April 4, 2013

Balihoo Offers "Local Marketing Automation" for Channel Partners

One of first marketing automation systems I ever saw – this would be during the Reagan Presidency – was a custom-built dial-up network to distribute collateral to farm equipment dealers. This and similar seeds have since sprouted into a forest of products that help brand marketers work with dealers, distributors, franchisees, and agents. Some of these channel marketing systems focus on lead distribution, some on locally-customizable promotion materials, and some on campaign management. All must mediate the delicate relationship between relatively sophisticated central marketing departments and their firmly independent channel partners. These products are part of the marketing automation industry, although their specialized nature places them on the periphery. General purpose marketing automation vendors also compete for this business with what are usually called “distributed marketing” options. I keep a distant eye on the space because it’s relevant but there are too many choices to track it closely. The best I can do is make an occasional visit to see what’s new. I made my latest foray last week after a briefing request from Balihoo. I accepted partly because Balihoo labels itself as “local marketing automation”, which includes the two magic words that most pique my interest. More important, channel marketing issues have cropped up several times recently in my consulting and are likely to be even more prominent in my work at Left Brain DGA. So it was worth taking a look.

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