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Redefining Mindshare for Modern Partner Ecosystems

Redefining Mindshare for Modern Partner Ecosystems

In this blog we explore the term ‘mindshare’ when used in channel partner relationships. It’s a much-used word that means different things to different people. For marketing people it can mean ‘brand recognition’, while for sales people it can be equated to ‘share of wallet’.

What is the difference between ‘mindshare’, ‘brand recognition’ and ‘share of wallet’? Can a vendor have one without the others? How does a vendor measure mindshare?

BRAND RECOGNITION VERSUS MINDSHARE

In consumer marketing, and in most generic definitions of mindshare, the word refers to brand awareness. A typical definition is as follows: “Mindshare measures awareness of a company’s brand compared to its competitors”.

Looked at from this angle mindshare is a ‘soft’ measure, often assessed based on consumer recall. One definition says: “Think market share, but less concrete and less numeric”.

In their excellent 2019 paper ‘Customer mindshare: The new Battleground in US Retail Banking’ McKinsey get more scientific. Mindshare, they say, is made up of four elements:

  • Physical Presence. For retail banking this refers to bricks and mortar branches, but in B2B it could refer to how often a vendor representative is on site meeting key stakeholders.
  • Digital Maturity. With particular focus on digital marketing. In B2B this might refer to how well the vendor builds on-line relationships with new and current partners.
  • Share of Voice. Is the brand message getting through to customers? In B2B this might also refer to how often the partner then tells the vendor story to their end customers.
  • User Experience. Ease of doing business, problem handling, delivery times, etc.

As McKinsey points out, all the above elements of mindshare are clearly measurable. Mindshare can in fact be very numeric.

WALLET SHARE VERSUS MINDSHARE

McKinsey says that mindshare is “an effective predictor of a company’s ability to acquire new customers and to expand share of wallet with existing customers. In other words, mindshare clearly drives wallet share. The more mind share you have, the more revenue you generate.

In fact, measurement of wallet share, often a key metric for sales, is a measure of outcome, not a measure of cause. Mindshare is a key revenue driver, as important as the quality of the vendor’s product, its price and its benefits to users. This has already been recognised by some vendors such as HP, who have linked partner mindshare with program reward in the new HP Amplify program.

B2B PARTNER CHANNELS - ESTABLISHING MUTUAL INTEREST

Let’s move on to look at mindshare in the context of indirect routes to market. How does a vendor increase mindshare with channel partners?

Before mindshare can be established with a channel partner there must be ‘mutual interest’. What we mean by ‘mutual interest’ is that the partner is committed to driving sales of the vendor’s solution. Without this commitment mindshare will be impossible. The vendor’s solution must fit well into the partner’s product portfolio, it must address a customer need, and it must be priced to ensure that the partner will make money.

When targeting new partners, mutual interest can be expressed in terms of intent. By assessing intent, vendors get an early indicator of whether mutual interest is there, can be nurtured or may never be achieved.

Some vendor-partner relationships fail the ‘mutual interest’ test. Let’s assume there is mutual interest and look at how to grow mindshare.

B2B PARTNER CHANNELS – GROWING MINDSHARE

Given there is mutual interest, four levers are available to vendors to increase partner mindshare. And mindshare, as we have seen above, has a direct impact on indirect channel revenue. The four levers are as follows:

  • PHYSICAL PRESENCE. How often is the vendor in contact with the partner? Phone or videoconferencing will work, face to face is better. More presence drives more mindshare. Vendors should track and set goals for partner contact based on the importance of the partner to their business. It’s clearly measurable.
  • DIGITAL MATURITY. How well does the vendor manage the partner journey from enrolment in their partner program through to ongoing deal management? Are processes automated, are response times short, is data integrated so that partners can access all they need through one portal? Benchmarking against competitors might be key here.
  • PARTNER VOICE. How effectively is the vendor driving commitment from the partner to promote the vendor brand to end customers? End customer mindshare is a product of partner mindshare. Vendors must identify key target partners and encourage them to engage in joint marketing activities to drive end customer demand.
  • PARTNER EXPERIENCE. Including ‘ease of doing business’. How easy is it to work with the vendor, are they good at handling issues, do they deliver on time? Again, this is clearly measurable.

Most vendors will have a good handle on physical presence and partner experience. Account planning and resource allocation models are well understood, though may not be targeting the partners with best opportunity to grow mindshare. Partner experience is often fed back through a range of tools such as Partner Advisory Boards, partner satisfaction surveys and usage/consumption metrics for key partner systems.

Digital maturity and partner voice are less well understood. They need to be viewed through the eyes of the partner – the partner lens – to understand both the digital marketing capability and the competitive battleground for share of partner voice that influences the partner’s ability to grow sales.

EXPLODING SOME MYTHS

  • Mindshare is not the same as brand awareness or share of wallet. Mindshare is a key driver of share of wallet.
  • In indirect channels, partner mindshare is only possible if there is ‘mutual interest’, meaning that the partner is committed to working with the vendor.
  • Mindshare is measurable. Measuring performance in each of the four sub-areas shown above is a sure way of measuring mindshare.
  • Mindshare drives revenue. Falling short against the competition in any of the four areas will reduce revenue. Improving will increase revenue.

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