Use Influencer Programs to Increase the Value of Channel Partner Events

By: ITA Group
woman influencer discussing channel partner program

Investing in your partner relationships is more important than ever. 98 percent of B2B executives anticipate an increase in income that can be directly attributable to their channel partner ecosystems. Additionally, 76% of corporate executives think that in five years, partner ecosystems will be the primary driver of change and current business models will be unrecognizable. 

These figures demonstrate the value of a robust channel partner ecosystem. Involvement and engagement is crucial. But maintaining an ecosystem is trickier than it seems. Your brand is competing for attention and loyalty. Hosting a partner event is one approach to strengthen your channel ecosystem. 

But in the crowded event space, it is easy to get overlooked. Event marketers expect to produce more meetings this year, but predict attendance levels will continue to lag. Only 1/3 of marketers expect more attendees in 2023 than 2022. Partnering with the right influencers can help ensure your event makes it onto audience calendars. 

An influencer strategy can energize your channel partner ecosystem for what’s ahead, driving event registrations. And influencers expand your reach by socializing your brand’s content with their highly engaged audience 

Related: Best Practices for Hosting a Channel Partner Summit & Other Partner Events 

Connecting With Influencers That Matter to Your Channel Partner Ecosystem

Influencers are more than the famous faces of Instagram,TikTok and YouTube. There are attendees already on your invite list who hold the capacity to motivate others. Look for those who have high social energy, and are willing to embrace novelty and share their experience with others. Stars in your customer loyalty or employee engagement programs, and partners who consistently share positive sentiments on social media can be strong internal influencers. 

These brand ambassadors can come from within the ranks of affinity or alliance partners, or can be constultants, thought leaders—even customers. What matters is that influencers can inspire buyers to take action, creating a ripple effect through promotion, recommendations or referrals. 

Industry-specific publications and associations often name top influencers, “40 under 40” or other honorees in a specific space, too. These knowledgable and personable individuals share their voice on LinkedIn, blogs, podcasts or other outlets. Just make sure their messaging matches your goals. 

With influencer programs, their credibility adds to yours and builds a trustworthy reputation for your brand. They amplify your ability to get in front of channel partners and engage those that are dormant. Effective influencers get people to your events, and share event-related content to their followers even before the opening session. Examples of influencers include: 

diagram of different types of channel influencers
Related: Creating Marketing Programs for Channel Partner Influencers

How to Reward Influencers

Once you’ve found influencers who know your niche, give them something to geek out about. Money isn’t the only way to incent influencer time and effort. Some non-cash ideas include:

  • An all-expenses-paid trip to your event
  • Early access to session details
  • A booth at a discounted or comped rate 
  • Invitations to VIP sessions and the post-event party
  • An influencer-only swag bag
  • Access to behind-the-scenes action
  • Special WiFi
  • Permissions to use professional event photography
  • A branded post recognizing their efforts

Many of these ideas can also enhance influencer content. Include a card with the swag bag reminding them to post a selfie wearing your company’s branded apparel. You can even gamify the influencer experience by assigning points to various types of content and awarding a “Top Influencer” after the event—perhaps with an all-expenses paid trip to return the following year. 

Sneak peeks, VIP access and other perks might be enough for internal influencers to back your event. Keep in mind industry experts might want exclusive opportunities and cross-promotion negotiated as part of their contracts, and factor such fees into your budget.


Using Influencers to Extend the Lifespan of Your Partner Event 

Your channel partner expo or conference agenda might only be a few days long. But an influencer strategy can expand the lifespan of your event messaging. 

Consider all the ways a keynote speaker can contribute to pre- and post-event promotion beyond sharing their message on the stage. Experts want to speak to a packed room and gain recognition among your attendees. And their network is often your undiscovered audience. Designing influencer engagements to build off this reciprocity enhances both your brand and theirs. By teasing content to drive registration, livestreaming from sessions and then publishing post event recaps and lookbacks, coverage can stretch for weeks. 

Pre-Event Promotion

Influencers can be effective partners in encouraging event registrations, especially if they are incented to do so, and have the right tools to amplify your messaging early on. Create opportunities for them to: 

  • Share photos about the event destination 
  • Partner with you to give away tickets or offer discount codes
  • Hype your event content in their blogs and podcasts
  • Host a social media takeover on your accounts
  • Collaborate to create engaging content across platforms 

During-Event Engagement

Leverage influencers to deepen the immersive feel of an event. Attendees want experiences and networking more than learning and content. Emphazise the FOMO-factor by encouraging influencers to showcase the energy of gathering with experts and sharing activities rather than text-based takeaways.  

  • Posting consistently within the event app 
  • Challenging event attendees to compete on gamification elements 
  • Using the event hashtag
  • Exclusive interviews with presenters 
  • Sneak peeks at activites and breakouts 
  • Hosting meetups or meet & greets during breaks and afterparties 

Post-Event Lookbacks

Deepen relationships by encouraging influencers to share recaps and highlights from the event. After the closing session, they could: 

  • Tag new connections in a post on LinkedIn
  • Compile their key takaways for a blog/podcast 
  • Share “save the date” information for next year’s event 

Engaging Channel Partners Through a Comprehensive Event Strategy 

Not only does ITA Group excel at driving revenue and increasing market share through our Channel Partner Solutions. We also have the tools and expertise to help clients segment and target audiences. Our immersive approach to event design attracts attendees who expect a strong return on their time.

Influencer strategies are one way to help attendees develop an emotional connection with the brand. 

Preparing to host channel partners at in-person events? Explore our creative event ideas for attracting and engaging attendees

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ITA Group

ITA Group custom-crafts engagement solutions that motivate and inspire your people. ITA Group infuses strategies that fuel advocacy and drive business results for some of the world’s biggest brands.