A Complete Guide to Partner Marketing
According to Hinge Research Institute’s 2020 High Growth Study, partnership marketing is ranked as the 7th most impactful marketing technique for professional services firms. This beats several more commonly used marketing techniques such as event sponsorships, blogging, and even email marketing campaigns. It can be an extremely beneficial opportunity for brands like yours.
When it comes to the world of partner marketing, there are a few different levels of relationships that you can create with your partners. Depending on your product or service, industry, audience, or related brands available, you may be ready to start one of the following:
- Affiliate marketing: An affiliate company primarily sends customers to your website.
- Distribution partnership: In this type of relationship, you work with a business that integrates your product into their distribution channels.
- Dealership partnership: In this type of partnership, companies can become licensed dealers of your products, meaning they are certified to sell them.
- Co-marketing: In this type of agreement, two companies partner to market each other’s products, many times as a package deal or combined product.
The Benefits of Partner Marketing
When you become partners with another brand, you’re significantly expanding your reach. You now have access to a larger audience of potential customers and an avenue to communicate with them that you never had before. Your partner’s audience trusts their brand, and by them choosing to work with your company, you achieve a level of trust from a potentially previously unfamiliar audience. Essentially, your partner can become your own, very qualified “brand ambassador.”
Additionally, this can become an effective way to scale your sales process and outcomes. You can prepare your partner with all the resources they need to market your brand to their customers and prospects, but they’ll take care of actually communicating these to this audience, without you having to be in the weeds of every conversion-in-progress.
How to Prepare Your Partner Program for Success
Hinge’s report found that high-growth firms were 3X more likely to use partner marketing as a part of their overall strategy than no-growth firms. Here’s how to implement the strategy to increase your firm’s growth.
1. Choosing the Right Partners
Make sure you’re choosing a partner company who has a similar audience to yours, but isn’t a direct competitor with your brand. You want to be offering a supplemental product or service to what they already offer, so that both audiences would be interested and benefitting from each side of the partnership.
Consider the value your partner brand would potentially bring. Will this company:
- Help you grow your customer base?
- Increase your brand awareness?
- Grow your social media following?
- Expose your brand to an audience that hasn’t heard of you before?
And, it’s just as important to ask these questions of yourself in partnering with their business. What unique benefits will you bring to the table for their business initiatives? When positioning your brand as a potential partner in your industry, make sure you’re in the “spirit of giving” just as much, and the benefits reach in both directions. Partner marketing is ideal for creating long-term relationships, and this is the first place to start.
2. Set Measurable Goals and Report on Them
To accurately gauge the success of your marketing partnership, it’s important to strive for goals that are measurable. This provides a reliable way of tracking how your partnership is performing. For example, work to achieve a 5% lead conversion rate in two months, versus working for a goal of “increasing leads.”
Regular reporting on your progress working towards these goals is just as important as setting them. Make sure to allow opportunities to adjust your strategy with your partners as you reflect on progress, timelines, and success rates throughout the process.
3. Keep Your Partners Motivated
An effective way to keep your partners motivated while working with you is to offer rewards throughout the duration of the relationship. Your partners deserve to be rewarded for their efforts of promoting both brands, and it’s often a way to provide them continued value. The way you incentivize your partners will differ depending on the specific partner program you run, but it could be anything ranging from leads generated to financial reimbursement, and anything in between.
4. Establish How You’ll Support Your Partners
You and your partners will be going back and forth with conversations and marketing materials very frequently. To make it easier on your team and theirs to stay organized and on top of tasks that need to be done throughout the process, here are some pointers:
- Create a “Partner Portal.” With any partner marketing relationship, you’ll have co-branded materials that your partners can use in promotional efforts. To keep all of these in one easy-to-access place for both parties, a landing page with an organized list of all files is ideal—AKA, a “Partner Portal.” You can password-protect the page, but this allows your team to just use a single URL to provide all needed marketing resources to your partners.
- Choose what marketing efforts fit best. Taking a look at you and your partner’s industries, audiences, and size, decide what strategies will work best for the partnership. This includes deciding on high-level initiatives such as advertising, content marketing, and more, as well as what platforms and amount of materials will be needed for each. A helpful tip: Create various partner marketing “plans,” with an outline of what is included in each partnership plan. For example, this could look like:
- Per month, our company supplies:
- 1 blog discussing both partners
- 12 organic social media posts
- 2 emails
- 1 advertising campaign
- Per month, our company supplies:
- Set up recurring meetings. Regardless of the size of the overall marketing plan you decide to begin with each partner, you can never over-communicate on project management. Setting up a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meeting with each team’s project leads ensures that everyone is on the same page for all moving parts.
- Dedicated partner coordinators. To make project management as straightforward and streamlined as possible, it’s ideal to assign a dedicated partner coordinator on your team for each partner. This allows for one point of contact that the partner can rely on, and nobody on your team is swamped with managing all partners, or worse, there is miscommunication somewhere in the mix, whether just within your team on the partner initiatives or with the partner company themselves.
- Branded sales materials/collateral. Just as we mentioned earlier, it will be very helpful for your partners to be provided branded materials and collateral from your team that they can use for their side of promotional efforts. This gives them a pool of options that they can choose from without having to constantly message your team for more, or for approval on certain creative usage.
- Branding rules and guidelines. When it comes time for your partner to develop any original creative that does involve your brand, make sure they’re equipped with how to properly use your brand standards. If they have this from the beginning, they won’t have to come to you about this and delay any marketing efforts in requesting these.
Partner marketing, a major strategy for success in today’s business environment, involves recruiting trusted people to promote your business to new audiences and accomplishing mutual goals you wouldn’t be able to achieve on your own. If you’re looking for guidance on how to get this started, we can help. Give us a call today!