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Long Tail 101 (part 1)

Channel revenue. It's the lifeblood of your business, the run rate that is so critical to keep your program afloat.  But let's be honest, sometimes that run rate business is rough to get and even rougher to run effectively. Enter the right Long Tail strategy – a quirky term for a phenomenon that might just change your perspective on channel revenue.

So, what exactly is the Long Tail?

The long tail is a multitude of partners, each contributing a smaller, but vitally important, amount of revenue to your business.  Managing that long-tail run rate business poses several challenges (most notably coverage, which has been moved from the vendors to distribution). This is why partner programs at times discount the needs of this channel when building their program.

That's a big mistake. And here at JSG, we prefer to think of them as “smaller partners” vs. the long tail, because it more specifically states what they are in the channel ecosystem. 

Why should you care about the smaller partners in your program?

Here's the thing about the Long Tail: it's often seen as the also-rans, the afterthought – that is totally wrong! These smaller partners can be a goldmine for channel revenue, and here's why:

  • Hidden Gems: Sure, the biggest partners in your program bring in the big bucks, but the Long Tail is teeming with potential. There could be niche partners perfectly suited to reach specific markets, or hidden gems with the potential to become future stars. Additionally, they often possess the ability to service SMB which is a sweet spot for many vendors as they create a platform strategy and thus want SMB distribution.

  • Collective Power: Don't underestimate the little guys! While each Long Tail partner contributes a smaller amount, their combined sales can be substantial. It's the power of many, making a big difference not just to your revenue but also your channel brand. In fact, many start up vendors gain traction FIRST here and then larger partners adopt their solutions when they see their smaller competitors succeeding with a new market entrant.   

  • Profitability Sweet Spot: Managing a few superstar partners takes a lot of time and resources. These smaller partners often require less hand-holding, making them potentially more profitable in the long run. Additionally, because they often offer more localized services to SMBs the price sensitivity can be lower than in enterprise as an example – this can lead to more profit for the partner and your business!

  • End User Customer Brand Awareness Boost: A vast network of partners puts your brand out there in a big way. These smaller partners can help you capture share of attention and awareness in new and creative ways in their local markets. 


The smaller partner strategy can be a game-changer for your program. By understanding its potential and implementing the right strategies, you can unlock new markets, discover hidden gems, and boost your overall sales. Janet Schijns was recently on Channext’s Partnership Unraveled podcast discussing why it makes good sense to invest in long-tail partners.


Stay tuned for Part 2, where we'll unveil cunning strategies to harness the power of the smaller partners and transform your channel revenue and ramp up your results.  


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