Partner Marketing 101: Setting the Foundation for Success
Partner marketing is critical for developing a partner ecosystem and delivering value to stakeholders and consumers. We’re covering all the basics.
There’s no doubt amongst leadership that partnership ecosystems are the future of business. Three-quarters of C-suite executives confirm that, in five years, current business models will likely be completely unrecognizable, and partnerships will be vital drivers of revenue and profit.
In short, if you’re not developing partnerships, you’re going to be left behind. Competing in an environment where value is generated through alignment with like-minded industry players is increasingly becoming a full-time role—if not an outright team sport—that requires constant curation, maintenance, and inspiration.
“There are just so many options, so many playbooks,” notes partnerships thought leader Justin Zimmerman, “and every company is just like every person. They're just slightly different.”
However, participation in broad trends is not sufficient to excel. Even the most objectively value-aligned partnerships don’t necessarily sell themselves to consumers. If you don’t have a solid partner marketing strategy in place, the exertion of nurturing and executing them may be in vain.
Fortunately, Firneo’s community of partnerships experts brings decades of experience to the table when it comes to partner marketing. We’ve been on the biggest stages with the biggest players in the partnerships game, and we’re here to give you the insider tips for partner marketing so you can be successful in your partnerships role.
An Introduction to Partner Marketing
Partner marketing involves analyzing the value of partnerships for stakeholders and consumers and then promoting it to the general public and potential partners in the ecosystem. When done well, partner marketing generates visibility and enriches a company’s image as a potential game-changer in the marketplace to potential partners.
“[Businesses] rely on partners for co-innovation,” explains partnerships expert Jay McBain. “They rely on partners for value creation, that last mile at the customer. They rely on partnerships for network effects, and finding deals they would never find through a normal sales or marketing model.”
Businesses are increasingly on the hunt for partners to elevate their marketplace stature, find new markets to tap, and share resources and expertise. In order to maximize the worth of your partnerships program, you’re going to have to become adept at communicating value and delivering actionable, on-brand messaging to the ecosystem.
And that’s the job of a Partner Marketing Manager (PMM).
The Art of Partner Marketing
Developing a partnership narrative is a creative process that requires a broad and diverse set of skills. PMMs need to be capable of analyzing data, identifying stakeholder value, have a basic understanding of partnership contract writing, and have a tremendous knack for communicating and listening.
In addition to these technical assets, partner marketing requires a natural storytelling ability. Remember: at the end of the day, partner marketing is not simply a question of optimizing methodologies and perfecting analytical processes.
It’s about communicating value.
Optimizing Partnership Value
Like any piece of successful marketing architecture, the process of developing and transmitting value narratives is specialized, and PMMs are first and foremost leaders in the space.
“One thing we've talked a lot about, even in the first leadership meeting,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, “was, what's the purpose of our leadership team? The framework we came up with is the notion that our purpose is to bring clarity, alignment and intensity.”
Clarity, alignment, and intensity.
In three words, that is what a PMM is all about. They identify stakeholder value, understand the goals they’re aligned behind, and once the ink is dry, they drive that message into the ecosystem with vibrant intensity. Value governs everything about partnerships, and if a PMM does their job well they will extract the maximum benefit from every aspect of their partnership portfolio.
That’s how value-driven, properly aligned partnerships go from being simply good business sense to an indispensable part of an overall business strategy. It’s the ultimate win-win-win for your career, for consumers, and for your company.
Tools of the Partner Marketing Trade
When introducing value narratives to the ecosystem, it’s important to explore a wide range of options to ensure that potential customers and partners receive them through channels in which they typically operate.
Common formats include webinars, white papers, podcasts, emails, videos, blogs, and even ebooks. Content matters, and as a partner marketing professional you’re responsible for communicating to leadership that simply co-branding generic market copy isn’t going to get the job done. Partner marketing is an investment, and the more you put into producing value narratives the greater your ROI will be.
Take Your Partner Marketing Career Post-Graduate
We know nobody told you any of this before you got your first job in partner marketing, because you know what?
Nobody told us, either.
At Firneo, our team of partnerships experts had to learn the hard way, and we’re making it our mission to save the next generation of partnerships leaders from the stress and anxiety that knowledge gap can cause.
You want to excel, and we want to help you make it happen.
Registration is now open for our Certified Partnerships Program’s February cohort, and it’s time to book your spot so you can get the insider knowledge and skills you need to become the partnerships pro you want to be.
Join Firneo and take your partnerships game to the next level.
For your company. For your career.
Join our community of Partnerships experts.
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Interview with an Expert: Barrett King
Partnerships expert Barrett King explains how to train for partnerships, and what skills you will need to excel.