How Much Will You Make as a Channel Marketing Manager?
March 10, 2021
Channel marketers across the board earn good money. There are steps you can take to increase your earning potential in this role. Getting a master's degree isn't necessarily one of them.
Some manufacturers sell directly to consumers, but most don't. Instead, they sell their wares through what are known as 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 also a high-stakes position in which both success and failure are highly visible. A good quarter may net a channel marketing manager in 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 close to $100,000, and, according to data collected by LinkedIn, the highest-paid channel marketing managers can earn $135,000 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:
- What is a channel marketing manager, and what do they do?
- How do you become a channel marketing manager?
- What is the average channel marketing manager salary?
- Do channel marketing managers with master's degrees earn more?
- Do channel marketing managers earn bonuses?
- Is the typical channel marketing manager salary higher in some locations?
- Are channel marketing managers paid enough for what they do?
- How can I earn more money if I become a channel marketing manager?
What is a channel marketing manager, and what do they do?
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:
- Acting as a communications bridge between a firm's marketing department and distribution and sales affiliates
- Attending trade shows and other promotional events to promote partner programs and find new channel partners
- Creating B2B marketing strategies that target potential channel partners
- Creating consumer-facing marketing materials and promotions for channel partners
- Creating reports for stakeholders to forecast future performance for each channel
- Developing intermediary marketing materials, including case studies and revenue reports
- Developing product training materials to support channel partners
- Finding and courting new channel partners
- Identifying marketing opportunities that will be useful to regional channel partners
- Identifying which offerings perform best in specific channels or markets
- Monitoring each channel's performance and assessing each against quarterly goals
- Negotiating contracts with new channel partners and renegotiating contracts with established partners
- Researching market trends, industry standards, and competitor distribution strategies
- Responding to competitive threats
- Watching for signs of channel conflict to ensure that partners don't undermine one another
- Working with logistics to ensure enough product is available for all channel partners
Success is measured in dollar signs when you're a channel marketing manager. Salary increases may be directly tied to revenue growth.
How do you become a channel marketing manager?
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 average channel marketing manager salary looks pretty good, then look for opportunities to work in:
- Account management
- Channel management
- Channel sales
- Marketing management
- Product distribution
- Product management
- Product marketing
- Regional sales
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.
What is the average channel marketing manager salary?
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 falls somewhere between $80,000 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.
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.
Do channel marketing managers with master's degrees earn more?
If you look at the LinkedIn data referenced above, it might seem like the answer to this question is an unequivocal yes. Their user surveys show that channel marketing managers with bachelor's degrees earn a base salary of about $83,000, while those with master's degrees earn $95,000, and MBA holders in this role earn $100,000.
Before you rush out and enroll in a master's degree program, however, consider that while a master's degree is almost always an asset when you're looking for work, it's not clear from LinkedIn's data how much experience those surveyed have. It may be that channel marketing managers with master's degree in marketing or MBAs also happen to have more experience. A bachelor's degree in business plus relevant experience in channel sales is usually enough to help you land a channel marketing manager job. Without relevant experience, a graduate degree may not earn you that much more.
Do channel marketing managers earn bonuses?
The average channel marketing manager salary doesn't tell the whole story. Referring back to LinkedIn, it's clear that 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:
- 55 percent of respondents received bonuses of about $9,450 annually (up to $22,000 for top earners)
- 8 percent of respondents received stock worth around $12,500 annually (up to a whopping $65,000 for top earners)
- 11 percent of respondents received stock options worth $4,500 on average (up to $20,000)
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.
Is the typical channel marketing manager salary higher in some locations?
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:
- Minneapolis-St. Paul
- New York City
- San Francisco
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.
Are channel marketing managers paid enough for what they do?
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.
How can I earn more money if I become a channel marketing manager?
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 close to $130,000 annually before bonuses and other benefits, and you'll earn about $170,000 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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