Expert Insights: How to Thrive in a Crowded Partner Marketing Ecosystem

Fiona O'Connor
Fiona O'Connor

Senior Content Marketing Manager

partner marketing ecosystemMore and more, B2B tech organizations recognize the role partnerships can play in the growth of their business. As a result, the partner ecosystem is becoming increasingly competitive – so partner marketing teams must continuously adapt.

For insight into how partner marketing organizations are evolving within this competitive context, Michael Latchford, VP of Strategic Alliances and Partner Marketing Services, recently spoke with three senior Partner Marketing execs – Francine Anthony (New Relic), Stacey Cole (Five9) and Liz Anthony (ViON). Here are a few takeaways from their conversation.

Foster real alignment within your organization and with partners alike

Partner alignment is the bread and butter of any successful partnership program. Shared team goals and documented strategies immediately come to mind. But even on the partnering side, these panelists note that true alignment must extend to each of the individuals involved, from the players on the ground to the key stakeholders. Only by clearly addressing individual motivations, values and measures of success early in your partnership will you build the kind of stable foundation necessary for a scalable, mutually beneficial relationship.

All three panelists agree that partner marketing pros must be careful to focus on establishing and nurturing alignment throughout their own organizations – from their direct team, to executives, to the salespeople essential to closing revenue. Critical to nurturing this internal alignment is “marketing” within their own organizations to build partner program momentum. By providing more visibility into their partnerships – from strategy through challenges and successes – partner marketing teams will strengthen their colleagues’ understanding and grow their support. The panelists describe a range of strategies to keep partner marketing top of mind internally, from weekly newsletters to “We love our partners” swag.

“Having that strategic alignment at the top, where we can really talk about what is our vision for the partnership, what is our mission, what are we trying to accomplish together…is so important to get right at the beginning because it cascades down into the organization,” says Liz Anthony of ViON,

Strong business cases accelerate growth

Leading B2B tech organizations recognize that partnerships fuel their comprehensive growth strategies and power their business outcomes. Yet, even as organizations shift emphasis towards better leveraging indirect channels, proper resourcing for partner marketing teams can lag. To address this head-on, teams must do the work to build and reinforce their business case – using metrics like partner successes, trackable goals and ROI models – and then communicate it effectively.

Our panelists recognize that tracking partner marketing successes and outcomes is not easy but getting there can make all the difference. Building a tracking and reporting methodology that works for the whole organization requires creativity and collaboration across a range of teams inside and outside of core partner marketing.

“How many times have you been in a business [objectives] conversation and partners were missing from the conversation? And as a result, to a degree, missing [as well] from the funding conversations?” says New Relic’s Francine Anthony. “So, what this means for me, is that as marketeers part of our job is elevating the awareness of partner contributions to the overall business. Because without this, the funding will not follow.”

Partner amplification and expansion starts with collaboration

As organizations put more emphasis on partner marketing, partner marketing teams must work with partners to both build a sustainable working foundation and grow revenue. That said, the experiences of the panelists show a diversity of successful approaches. Here are a few examples they give of how to amplify and expand partner programs:

  • Internal engagement. Use internal engagement tactics to increase program awareness and fuel adequate resourcing. Partnerships cannot grow without funding support that goes beyond staffing a partner marketing team.
  • Out-of-the-box partnerships. Moving beyond basic one-to-one partner coordination, multi-partner collaboration can accelerate in-market traction, especially given that complex tech solutions often require it. Look to leverage your entire partner ecosystem to bridge gaps and deliver better solutions for clients.
  • Differentiation. In competitive markets, it’s essential that all partners benefit from and value their partnership with you. Start every relationship with strong fundamentals – including onboarding and activation tools – to ensure it’s as easy as possible for partners to succeed. That will create momentum you can build on.

“Amplification comes from a clear and deliberate approach to onboarding and activating,” says Five9’s Stacey Cole. “From there you leverage things like a partner portal to drive interest, awareness and engagement.”

For more insights from partner marketing experts, watch TechTarget’s Partner Marketing Visionaries webinar series. To learn more about products and services to support your partner marketing efforts, contact Michael Latchford.

alliance marketing, Channel and Alliance Partnerships, channel enablement, channel marketing, partner marketing, partner marketing ecosystems

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