- April 21, 2023
- Partner Marketing
The Art & Science of Building Messaging
This blog is a part of a series highlighting the perspectives of partner marketing executives across the globe. You’ll hear our guest writers’ experiences facing challenges in the partner ecosystem and their insights from their years of experience.
The typical preamble of a partnership agreement reads something like this: The parties agree to work together, develop joint solutions, enable joint sales and marketing and help each other gain entry into markets that provide incremental and new opportunities for business growth and customer success.
To fuel alliances and partnerships, it’s fundamentally important for two or more companies to develop joint messaging and content that empowers marketing departments to deliver awareness and demand generation activities. Joint messaging enables sellers to present a pitch to customers and prospects that resonates as a solution that comes from one company.
In my career I’ve seen many examples of partnerships with powerful joint messaging. For example, in the 2009-2010 timeframe VMware, Cisco and EMC created one of the first versions of a private cloud solution. The messaging creators developed a potent triumvirate that launched an entire industry around hyperconverged infrastructure. In 2016, AWS and VMware developed a powerful message for VMware customers to operate in the world’s most prominent cloud. In 2022, a very powerful relationship was ignited as NVIDIA and Deloitte collaborated to help enterprises easily build and operate AI and Metaverse services.
One approach to create joint messaging for a partner solution compares the compelling value proposition of a solution with priorities, trends and spending data from analyst and CIO surveys, like Oracle Cloud and VMware did for their combined solution. As a result, control, security and predictability were top of the list in 2021 analyst reports and videos.
I’m proud to be part of the Partner Marketing Visionaries community. On March 29, 2023, I had the opportunity to discuss my favorite topic – partner messaging with my industry colleagues Annie Martin (Microsoft), Lena Wiegering (Dataminr) and Tyillere Hansen (Slack). In the panel discussion, Messaging: The Art & Science of Building, they shared their expert opinions, perspectives and guidelines for developing joint messaging with alliances and partners. Here are some key takeaways from our conversation.
What do you think about when formulating the “together is better” message with a strategic alliance?
Annie Martin: “The first step should include definition from people involved in the partnership to define what ‘better’ means in ‘better together.’ Joint branding and messaging is more than just putting two logos together. We need to ask, what would compel a customer to work with us together? We need to articulate a joint-value message at the beginning of the partnership. Slowing down to define what better is sets us up for success.”
What is the typical process and approach for developing joint messaging?
Lena Wiegering: “The first discussion should involve product marketing teams from both partners and ask, ‘What type of partnership is this?’ In some scenarios, the partnership is an integrated solution. In other cases, it’s a partnership where a customer would buy two products together to create a solution. Gaining executive sponsorship and involving sales leadership is fundamentally important to developing strong partner messaging. Other elements include building deliverables and establishing a feedback loop for sales and marketing campaigns is part of the process. It’s not a one and done routine. Messaging needs to be adjusted and optimized over time.”
How is messaging documented and ultimately enforced with sales and marketing?
Tyillere Hansen: “Documenting a list of assets and how they will be used is a first step. Typically, a list of go-to-market assets includes creating modular slides that allows integration into pitch decks for sales and solution architects/engineers. Other assets include sales battlecards, customer solution briefs and website pages. Setting expectations up front with Sales and Marketing helps to enforce how messaging is used. The teams should understand how documents will reviewed. Defining expectations for a partner program needs to clarify how the joint-brand will be represented, considering how competitors will perceive the joint-brand, specifying when review cycles will occur, gaining support for legal and other teams to review the joint-messaging. If people understand all of these elements, then enforcement will not be a surprise.”
Annie, Lena and Tyillere also shared some best practices when creating joint-value messaging.
- Lena Wiegering: “Keeping messaging fresh and current is difficult. Define where the document repository resides and who will manage the messaging. Declare a feedback loop process to refine and update the messaging.”
- Annie Martin: “Implement a methodology to respond to market changes. Updating messaging is critically important. During the pandemic, I directed my team to adjust our partner messaging so that it was current.”
- Tyillere Hansen: “Customer feedback from events is valuable. At events, we can see, in real-time, how customers react on message and if it lands.”
At the end of the session, an interesting question from the audience was asked: “How does ChatGPT and Bard influence messaging development?” Annie said, “I’m so excited about it. This is going to save time, I can ask the deep questions, it can be a collation service so I can then add and my apply my thinking and personality.”
Tyillere has used ChatGPT to help create a script for a podcast, which provided topics ideas and saved hours of time. Of course, the process wasn’t perfect, and Tyillere clarified the ChatGPT output and refined it with points that the AI did not include. Lena said, “This technology helps to eliminate some of the initial work that is a slog. This capability allows people to focus energy on other things such as, measurement and optimization. I see a lot of benefit here.”
For more insights and best practices around creating effective joint messaging, watch Messaging: The Art & Science of Building. And once you’ve built out your partner messaging, watch Creating a Successful Marketing Plan with Partners to explore critical elements of a successful partner marketing plan.
partner marketing, partner marketing ecosystems