After a ton of research and years of working in marketing with a number of SaaS companies, I finally realized the power that comes from partnerships in developing a stronger brand presence and faster growth in the equity of the brand. In this article I will share 8 components of a partnership and what impact they have on building a marketing eco-system that drives massive brand valuation when done right.
When businesses which have complimentary products come together to benefit one another’s bottom line, exponential growth is encountered. I have found this to be true with SaaS models within the financial services industry. When B2B clients are trying to reduce costs, simplify workflows with automation, and improve the consumer’s experience, they benefit from tightly integrated systems and a single platform to drive results. There must be a business need for any kind of channel partner program to work.
Trust is probably the most abused five letter word in the English language. According to Merriam-Webster, trust is “a charge or duty imposed in faith or confidence or as a condition of some relationship”. In the partner marketing eco-system trust is the center of success. A strong relationship between partners and absolute trust that each partner is looking out for one another’s best interests drives maximum impact in building an eco-system that brings value to each organization. Such a relationship requires open, honest, and fearless communication between partners.
My experience with channel partner marketing is that when each partner wins, the customer wins as well. I have found that building programs which align strategic goals, marketing development funds (MDF), and revenue outcomes create an environment where every party wins, even the end consumer. The ticket to winning is being able to plan and execute plans in which each partner has the other’s best interest. Read my last article on Winning at Partner Marketing here.
It might be obvious to some that planning is part of partner marketing yet, most companies fail. I don’t believe that the failure I have seen in partner marketing wasn’t the result of poor execution but rather the lack of a documented plan. Failed partner marketing efforts tend to fail in reviewing KPIs in the marketing process. I think the saying goes, if you can’t measure it…it doesn’t exist. I might suggest that if you don’t plan it, there is nothing to measure.
I’ve worked to simplify the partner marketing process by building a roadmap of what that process looks like. I call it the ABCD Partner Marketing Process which I have shared on SlideShare here. This process ensures partnerships are aligned and effective in empowering sales and creating revenue for both partners.
Teamwork is found in nearly every organization today as the result of the growing impact of technology that allows real-time collaboration. However, when I’m faced with challenges in partner marketing I trust I can look to my marketing team for ideas and help. I also find strong teamwork between partner marketing and channel partner sales drives even better results. I have worked in both scenarios where marketing and sales were aligned and where they were not. The organizations which had strong alignment realized revenue growth faster. It takes a team to accelerate partner sales.
While certainly the collaboration within the in-house teams are important, collaboration with partners are even more important. Using software tools to provide partners with an opportunity to collaborate on their needs is only part of the equation, however. The other part is getting in front of partners who can make the biggest impact on your bottom line – revenue growth. By working side by side and taking care of your counterparts within partner organizations, the relationship deepens and the needle of sales starts moving.
At the end of the day things must be measured. It’s difficult to get funds to continue the partnership without a clear track record of performance. Formal quarterly performance reviews of each partnership against the plan helps identify what worked and what didn’t. Then each partner can be open, honest, and fearless in suggesting ways to improve the plan moving forward and then got out and execute even better results.
If your partner marketing program doesn’t generate revenue or growth in brand equity, it probably should go through a comprehensive review. Success in partner marketing programs is measured by helping your organization become a significant part of the partner’s revenue stream or by impacting your partner’s brand equity through the activities you do collectively.
Building a partner channel eco-system is powerful when these 8 key components are considered. Not only can it rapidly grow revenue, such a program can impact brand value and equity in both directions. It is important for companies to evaluate which relationships they value and those they don’t so the best opportunities get the red carpet treatment.
Ben brings more than 20 years of experience in business development and marketing in the SaaS and financial services space. Over the last several years he has built strong partner marketing eco-systems that drive revenue growth and brand equity. Ben is also adjunct faculty where he teaches business and marketing classes on occasion. He resides in Idaho where he enjoys golf and world class fly-fishing.