Some manufacturers sell directly to consumers, but most don’t. Instead, they sell their wares through channel partners, third-party businesses like retailers, resellers, wholesalers, and distributors.
The path goods take from producer to consumer can seem simple at first glance, but it’s not. Manufacturers sell their products to channel partners who then sell to consumers. That’s the whole story, right? Not exactly.
Manufacturers want to do everything they can to keep orders coming in. One way they accomplish this is by employing channel marketing managers, who work closely with channel partners to help them maximize their sales. A channel marketing manager helps intermediary channel partners like distributors and wholesalers identify profitable sales streams. They also make sure retailers and resellers have everything they need to market products effectively to the end customer, whether that’s up-to-date information about each product’s unique value proposition (UVP), seasonally appropriate signage, or ideas for quarterly promotions. And they identify and court new channel partners so they can get their companies’ products onto as many store shelves as possible.
Channel marketing managers are under a lot of pressure. This is an always-on role that involves shaking a lot of hands, making a lot of cold calls, and maintaining a lot of relationships. Channel marketing managers also have to be adept researchers able to quickly identify and respond to meaningful sales trends. It’s a high-stakes position in which both success and failure are highly visible. A good quarter may net a channel marketing manager a bonus; a bad one can earn them a pink slip.
Unsurprisingly, channel marketing managers who are good at what they do earn quite a bit. Successful channel marketing managers earn can earn well over $100,000 per year, and, according to data collected by Zippia, the highest-paid channel marketing managers can earn $128,000 or more. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll earn six figures if you become a channel marketing manager, but it does suggest that this can be a lucrative role for the right person.
In this article about what the typical channel marketing manager salary looks like, we cover:
Channel marketing managers straddle the line between sales and marketing in a role that doesn’t fit tidily into either discipline. They’re not exclusively responsible for driving product sales in a specific market or region, but they’re also not product marketers in the traditional sense. They market primarily to intermediary and consumer-facing distribution channels as a means of developing new partnerships, but they also manage those partnerships once they’re established. This can involve promoting new products and services to partners and potential partners or doing whatever is necessary to ensure that partners are communicating the UVP of the products and services they’re selling.
So, what does a channel marketer do? The responsibilities of channel marketing managers include:
Success is measured in dollar signs when you’re a channel marketing manager. Salary increases may be directly tied to revenue growth.
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This is a relatively senior position, and most employers looking for channel marketing managers won’t consider an applicant without a college degree. Many don’t specify what kind of degree, however, or even the highest level of education a candidate should have. This is likely because channel marketing manager is a hybrid role, and there are no degrees designed exclusively for those who aspire to it.
Most channel marketing managers have at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration, though many professionals in this position studied marketing, supply chain management, logistics, economics, or even psychology.
Experience may be more important than education in channel marketing. If you think LinkedIn’s channel marketing manager average salary looks pretty good, then look for opportunities to work in:
While some channel marketing managers advance to this position from marketing, your chances of landing a management-level job in channel marketing will probably be better if you have a strong business background. If you’re trying to decide between a bachelor’s degree in business or a bachelor’s degree in marketing, opt for a BSBA or BBA and look for opportunities to take additional marketing courses.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t track income for channel marketing managers, but many websites do. Most agree that the average channel marketing manager salary range is $85,000 and $95,000, while the highest earners bring in well over $100,000. Additionally, most channel marketing managers typically receive medical, dental health, and retirement benefits in addition to a base salary, along with bonuses, stock options, and other extras (Payscale values these add-ons at anywhere from $1,000 to $18,000 in additional income).
A channel marketing manager’s earning potential may be tied to the performance of various channels, but generally, prior experience and skills have the most significant impact on earning potential. In this case, previous experience means the proven ability to generate substantial revenues for past employers, plus time spent in management, channel sales, and senior-level marketing positions.
According to Salary.com data, a master’s degree should result in a salary bump for marketing managers. Those with a bachelor’s degree only reported incomes ranging from $109,000 to $117,000 annually. Those with a master’s, in contrast, reported earning $111,000 to $119,000 per year. That’s not a huge difference, to be sure, but remember as well that that master’s degree may situate you better for a promotion up the management ladder, with a corresponding pay bump.
The average channel marketing manager salary doesn’t tell the whole story. According to data from a LinkedIn salary report, professionals in this role can earn more than just a paycheck. When the site looked at how much channel marketing managers were making, they found that:
What this means is that if you become a channel marketing manager and you’re very good at your job, there’s no reason you can’t earn a lot more than the average channel marketing manager salary.
Channel marketing managers definitely earn more in some areas of the US than in others. The average channel marketing manager salary tends to be highest in the following cities, aaccording to ZipRecruiter:
Don’t start planning a big move just yet, though. Remember that cost of living is a factor in how far a paycheck can go. You’ll probably get paid more in this role if you work in one of the above metropolitan areas, but your housing and living expenses will also be a lot higher. You may be able to do more with less in a cheaper city where your dollar will be worth more.
As touched on above, this isn’t an easy job. The advancement path can be circuitous. Channel marketing managers typically spend a significant amount of their time on the road. And at the end of the day, these professionals are responsible for hitting consumer sales and revenue goals without necessarily having a direct line to customer insights. When a channel isn’t meeting projections, it is often the channel marketing manager’s responsibility to identify why and fix the problem with only as much data as partners are willing to share. They have to figure out whether the issue is the contract terms, a channel partner that’s underperforming, an issue with the market, a bad distribution model, or in the worst-case scenario, a problem with the product.
The bottom line is that these professionals carry a lot of responsibilities on their shoulders. It’s up to you to decide whether the average channel marketing manager salary is enough compensation given the potential stress.
Advancing in channel marketing typically means landing a director or vice president of channel development position, both of which pay more than the average channel marketing manager salary. As a director, you’ll earn over $250,000 annually before bonuses and other benefits, and you’ll earn more than $300,000 if you’re promoted to VP.
There are, however, only so many top executive positions to go around. Your other option when your goal is to earn more money in this role is to switch companies—especially if you’re working for a smaller firm. Larger companies that employ multiple channel marketing managers tend to pay more. You should also explore opportunities in different industries. The highest-paid channel marketing managers tend to work in software, IT, manufacturing, computer networking hardware, and consumer goods. That doesn’t mean you won’t find openings in other sectors that pay just as well or better.
As a channel marketing manager, you’ll have an advantage that many other professionals don’t have—namely, that the ins and outs of channel marketing don’t change much from industry to industry. You’ll have to learn the UVPs of different products and services when you transition from position to position, but moving into a higher-paying opportunity will rarely require you to relearn your job.
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