If you have a partner or channel program, then you know managing partners can be quite a balancing act. Partners are trusted representatives of your brand, so they should not be treated the same way you would treat an anonymous infringer.
Partners are valuable to your business because they are experts in their channel, give you access to markets you otherwise might not be able to reach, and provide a friendly “face” for your brand in front of customers.
That said, your brand is one of the most significant assets for your company – if your partners do something to tarnish the customer perception of the brand, then millions of dollars of brand equity could be lost.
It is important to put relevant guidelines in place that give guidance to the problems you are seeing. Setting clear expectations up front will help to avoid common issues such as channel conflict or customer confusion that arise from partners not following the rules – or when they have little guidance.
Just as technology constantly changes, so should your partner policy.
Do you have a social media policy? How about rules around testimonials? Mobile apps are gaining popularity as the cost of creating an app plummets, do you have any language in your policy to address this new area of the Internet?
While all of these topics may not apply to you and your business, it is likely that many of them do. Take the time to examine which ways your partners are likely to communicate to customers and update your policy to cover these new mediums – the most successful partner programs do this regularly.