Partnership marketing is like alchemy. Two or more firms collaborate to reach new heights that they couldn’t have scaled separately. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Partner marketing, done right, can boost market share, build brand awareness and better sales performance. 

Now more than ever, in a down economy when every interaction and touch point with a partner needs to be optimized and ROI needs to work even harder, the effectiveness of a smart to-partner marketing can’t be overstated. Your partners are continuously inundated with other brands, perhaps many other vendors that are trying to grab their attention. A strong to-partner marketing strategy will keep you front and center in your channel partners’ minds. The more value they perceive you are providing, the more likely they are to give you their attention. Partner engagement is a critical measure of effective to-partner marketing. To-partner marketing focuses on recruiting and retaining the right partners and is designed to: 

  • Win them over and show them how they benefit from your relationship 
  • Stay top of mind — and ahead of other competitors the partner is working with.  
  • Provide benefits like product or customer insights, value propositions, and training to help your channel partner reach your customer base and market your products and brand message. 

However, if a to-partner marketing program isn’t producing the needed results, look for these two common problems: 

  • The partnership marketing campaigns don’t make sense for the partners’ businesses.
  • Partners aren’t seeing, “what’s in it for me.” In other words, revenue. 

Channel partners, of course, want to turn a profit and do so with high margins. If your campaign isn’t generating leads or driving new business, they lose interest. This can happen quickly. Meanwhile, the partner marketing world evolves and grows more complex. As a vendor, you might have multiple channel marketing initiatives with multiple partners, ranging from mom-and-pop retailers to large resellers. It can get chaotic if you don’t stay on top of it. To achieve a cost-effective and successful partner marketing program, many vendors turn to third-party systems like StructuredWeb to help manage the many variables. 

Considering the importance of to-partner marketing, make sure that the third-party system you choose offers the tools and strategies you need to generate partner marketing success. 

7 ways to boost to-partner marketing  

Here are seven things a vendor needs to do to develop a to-partner marketing program. and you can start to see why working with a third-party partner-marketing agency might be a good solution. 

1. Find the right partners 

Past performance predicts future success. Your ideal partner profile should include places where you’ve had past success, but you also need flexibility to consider new partner types. You’ll have to understand where their strengths lie and how to evaluate them. 

That said, you’re unlikely to find many partners who tick all of the boxes. Rather, think in terms of building an ecosystem of partners that will meet your requirements. 

2. Nurture your partners

Treat your partners and potential partners as leads who need to be nurtured. Target channel partners with compelling content in newsletters, e-books, white papers, social media content, events and online advertisements to demonstrate the value of working with you

Remember: The work doesn’t stop once your partners are onboarded. It costs more to recruit new partners than to retain the ones you have. Getting the right marketing strategy and right messaging to the right partner at the right time shows that you understand their business and want to help them succeed. 

3. Don’t take partners for granted 

You’re going to need to sell them on every new campaign or product, including how they can make money from it. A channel partner wants to know that it will be worth their time and effort to build a relationship with you. When they ask, “What’s in it for me?” be ready to reply with the significant benefits of channel partner marketing. 

Depending on your business and the type of partner, those answers could lie in improved lead generation, distribution partnerships, affiliate programs, referral partnerships, co-branding, co-marketing and more. To be successful, your to-partner marketing strategies should result in genuine relationships with your partners. 

4.  Set goals for new marketing campaigns and products 

Your campaigns and programs should be tied to clear value, financial or otherwise. Each time you launch a new product, solution or campaign that you want your partners to support, make sure to explain why they should care and how they can benefit. 

Your goals should be measurable and — most importantly — communicated to the partner. It goes without saying that your system of collecting, tracking and measuring data should be reliable and accurate. 

5. Make it really easy for them to work with you 

Two words: Partner portal. A fully-customizable partner experience that streamlines all aspects of channel marketing and sales activities will increase the likelihood that your partners will engage with you.

Two bonus words: Integrated software. If your partners’ user experience is seamless — i.e. they don’t need to visit multiple websites and remember multiple logins and passwords to get what they need — you’ll make their lives easier. With the right third-party agency, you could become the easiest partner to work with and stand out from the competition.  

6. Track their progress  

Multi-level reports and custom dashboards will make it easier for you to keep partners engaged and to supply them with what they need from your partnership. You also want to track and measure partner activity from login to assets view, downloads and execution. 

7. Give them incentives and rewards for succeeding  

Incentive programs and rewards are more than an afterthought for channel partners. Partners often rely on the extra support and revenue generated by SPIFs, MDFs, co-op funds and deal registration incentives. 

Ready to learn more? 

Oddly enough, although to-partner marketing is an essential aspect of partnership marketing, it’s sometimes the one that gets the least attention. There are a lot of balls to juggle, so partner-marketing automation platforms like StructuredWeb that provide a comprehensive portfolio of services can help vendors and their channel partners achieve mutual success.