Winning at Partner Marketing

The goal of marketing per the American Marketing Association (AMA) should be to deliver a cohesive combination of communication activities, techniques, and media designed to deliver a coordinated message to targeted buyers. In the SaaS space this works best when organizations join forces and form partnerships to create better solutions.

Early in my career I was taught by a mentor who helped me understand how to win at partner marketing. My mentor taught me that the best marketing comes from products or services which don’t need marketing at all. However, when companies come together is strong partnerships the triple W effect kicks in. Win, Win, Win…let me share an example.

First the customer (end user) must win. In SaaS this typically has meant that the software solution of the joint partners enables an optimum user experience. Design and user interface and important; however, the perception of that experience is only as good as the solution results itself. Let’s look at the credit card application process. While the customer only sees the bank’s website and material, the truth is there are several backend players that integrate technology to deliver the instant gratification that more and more consumers are seeking. Next, both the front and and back end partnering businesses must win via a mutual revenue agreement of some sort. Such agreements help hold the partnership accountable. However, sometimes companies think they can do the entire transaction end to end themselves. While at times they succeed, often the cost of customer retention and new customer acquisition is high.

In the example above when companies join in helping the customer (end user) reach a common goal, everyone wins. This is really where partner marketing steps in. Partners can leverage resources, strategy, and execution to help grow each other’s bottom line…revenue and profits. Winning at partner marketing in the SaaS world based on my personal experience requires dedicated resources, strategic direction, and companies who are ultimately helping enhance that end-user’s experience. Keeping marketing simple but relevant matters most when it comes to marketing and selling complex SaaS solutions. I’d love to hear about your experiences working with partners. What worked? What didn’t? Please comment so we can learn one with another.

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