Partner marketing is a powerful tool for business growth. To do it successfully, you’ll need good communication and collaboration between all parties.
Partner marketing—also known as alliance marketing—may be newer to the marketing scene, but it’s quickly gaining traction among successful marketers. According to Hinge’s 2022 High Growth Study, partner marketing is ranked as one of the top ten most impactful marketing techniques for professional services firms—ranking above common marketing techniques, like social media networking and educational webinar presentations.
But what exactly is partner marketing? Partner marketing occurs when two or more organizations come together to jointly promote and sell a product, service or even a concept—with a goal of benefiting all stakeholders involved. Essentially, it involves combining resources—like knowledge, expertise, brand recognition and funding—to reduce inefficiencies and reach new markets.
Creating and Optimizing Partner Ecosystems
Technology companies often form partnerships when they collaborate on new technologies. This may look like two or more companies integrating their products to enrich data, create new workflows or develop joint go-to-market strategies. These partnerships may be called business ecosystems or partner ecosystems.
Partner ecosystems are becoming an increasingly critical business strategy to drive innovation, generate efficiencies and create more customer value collectively. In fact, companies that don’t embrace business ecosystems risk falling behind the competition.
But it’s not enough to simply participate in your ecosystem. To drive business growth, you must also optimize your partner ecosystem by analyzing your partner relationships and determining the true value generated. This helps ensure you’re engaging with the right partners and allocating the correct resources to each partner in your ecosystem. Significant market opportunities can be leveraged by partnering with others if you have determined how they fit in your business growth strategy and go-to-market strategy.
Setting Up Your Partner Marketing Team
The partner marketing team—made up of marketing professionals from participating companies—jointly promote and sell the new technology. Some companies have dedicated partner marketing managers to execute their partner marketing campaigns, while others rely on existing marketing teams. Tech companies that come together on a united marketing front make their business stronger and accelerate growth for both organizations.
There are many benefits to partner marketing campaigns. But, like any relationship, the give-and-take of the co-development process can present its own set of unique challenges. Co-innovation requires an immense amount of coordination, and how well you collaborate ultimately determines whether your partnership will be successful.
Here are four keys to successful partner marketing campaigns:
1. Getting alignment on a marketing plan
When two organizations come together to create a marketing plan, it can be challenging for everyone to align on what’s most important. For example, each partner likely has different goals or KPIs they’re held accountable for within their organizations. They may also have different opinions of successful tactics based on their unique past experiences. Co-creating a joint go-to-market strategy that equally satisfies both parties’ needs can be difficult.
It’s important to make sure partners are aligned on a basic marketing plan from the onset to ensure the partnership is mutually beneficial and there’s a clear understanding of how you will go to market. You can start by reviewing each of your goals for the partnership and looking for common threads. This will help you determine what to prioritize in your plan and how to reach your target audience—together.
2. Telling a story that fits both businesses
Developing your message may seem like a simple task—after all, who knows your story better than you? But trying to craft the perfect joint message that plays up your strengths without overshadowing your partner (or selling yourself short) can be tough. Some marketers may be tempted to skip this step—or attempt to stitch together their individual value props during content creation. But without an agreed-upon message, sales and marketing teams from all sides are likely to tell different stories when speaking with customers. This may come off as confusing or unprofessional—neither of which is good for business.
Successful partner marketing professionals understand the importance of finding an agreeable message that works for both businesses. By gathering input from subject matter experts on all sides, you have a complete understanding of how the product or service works. This ensures your joint message is not only engaging, but also factually accurate. You should also reference your individual messaging and look for any overlap in your stories. This will help you identify common strengths, so you know what to emphasize in your joint message. Having an approved joint message is essential in launching a successful campaign.
3. Collaborating to create the campaign
When working with partners, some marketers may be hesitant to take charge—or they simply may not have the time. But to run a joint campaign successfully, teams should establish a sustained way of coming together to ensure everyone’s on the same page about their goals, as well as their individual roles and responsibilities.
Often, hiring an outside expert to facilitate discussions and lead an unbiased approach can serve both partners well. And scheduling a regular cadence of meetings provides opportunities for alignment on campaign messages, media, production, timing and budget.
4. Executing the campaign successfully
Once the teams have worked through messaging and are aligned, it’s time to execute the campaign. While launching the campaign is exciting (check!), the work doesn’t stop there. Like any campaign, it’s important to evaluate performance to determine whether the campaign is successful.
ROI is a key metric—calculating how much time and budget you contributed against your goals and projected outcomes for the campaign (think website traffic, content downloads, leads generated, or closed deals). This data can help you understand the true value of your partnership and determine how you want to allocate resources going forward.
Relationships are at the heart of partner marketing. And when two (or more) teams come together with a common goal to drive value for their customers, they can have tremendous impact and generate more growth for all parties.
To learn more about how to optimize your marketing efforts and implement a successful partner marketing campaign, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.