Times They are A-Changing, Faster Than Ever: Insights From Tech Partner Marketing Experts

Fiona O'Connor
Fiona O'Connor

Content Writer

Increasingly, tech companies see the benefits of partnering in their go-to-market strategies. Partnerships allow them to better pursue revenue opportunities and to deliver solutions more effectively for their clients. At the heart of many of these relationships sit partner and alliance marketing teams working hard to develop specialized programs that ensure success for all partners.

Naturally, TechTarget has been strengthening its capabilities to support our customers’ efforts in this area. As part of these efforts, Michael Latchford, VP of Strategic Alliances and Partner Marketing Services, recently sat down with three partner marketing executives – Kristin Heisner (Commvault), Liz Fuller (Citrix) and Robin Wolf (NVIDIA) – to get their insights on how they’re building successful alliance strategies amid a constantly changing landscape. Here are some key themes from their discussion.

There’s power in supporting partners’ digital marketing needs

For all three panelists, one of their teams’ first priorities early in 2020 – when all-digital interaction suddenly became a “thing” – was to determine how they could continue to scale their programs. To support their partners effectively this grew to include everything from setting up new resources to providing additional education and developing new go-to-market tools.

“One of the things we heard loud and clear from our partners was: ‘We have one digital person. One. What can we do? How can you help us?’” says Kristin Heisner of Commvault. “So, for us that meant really training them on our best practices in a virtual environment.”

Their reinvigorated support, whatever its form, expands the core concept of partner marketing while staying laser-focused on the mission: to develop strong alliances in which all parties benefit. While these new support resources will certainly evolve moving forward, the panel members all feel that this focus on support will remain strong.

Partner marketing’s organizational importance expands

All the panelists report strong program growth in the past year and confidence that this trend isn’t likely to slow as expansion of alliance partnerships within the tech industry is driven largely by customer demand. Partnering as a whole, and the partner marketing teams that support it, are recognized as vital to many tech organizations’ go-to-market strategy – they’ve become essential to growth. As a result, we see many teams investing more to help partnerships succeed.

Partner marketing programs are also expanding to support relationships with new categories of partners. “I think that our worlds are coming together,” says Liz Fuller from Citrix. “Customers are demanding it. I cannot imagine being a customer and saying, ‘I understand everything that I need to be able to address every single pain point.’ It’s our job to do that, and that’s where partners really come in.”

Virtual events must evolve

Shutdowns in 2020 shifted a lot of marketing activity to digital channels, in events perhaps more than any other tactic. But ramping up virtual events capabilities carried its own set of challenges for the partner marketing community. Fortunately, there were some silver linings. Early on, customers were flooded with a range of virtual events to choose from, and much of the exhibitor messaging sounded the same. Recognizing this as a problem, savvy partner marketing teams saw an opportunity to collaborate with their alliance partners to develop truly differentiated and unified value propositions to better serve the needs of their constituencies.

Although we’re beginning to see a revival of in-person events for 2021, panelists anticipate a hybrid model will develop with a mix of digital and in-person activities, thus offering audiences more flexibility to learn and engage as they prefer.

“Going forward, even if we have an in-person event, we want to reach all of those customers and partners all around the world. So, this hybrid engagement will be a critical piece of our strategy,” notes NVIDIA’s Robin Wolf.

The fundamentals of successful partnerships remain a constant

Despite the many adjustments made across partner marketing practices in the past year, key elements of strong, successful partnerships remain essential to success, including:

  • You and your partners know what your goals are individually, but you must explicitly identify where you complement each other. Be clear about what you want to achieve together, how you will do it and how you will resolve any differences.
  • Trust. Your partner must know that they can rely on you. Build a comprehensive strategy and plan, set expectations and meet or exceed those goals.
  • You and your partners must work well together. This starts by jointly identifying and developing strategies that will help you reach your goals together. Share data and use it collectively to inform the partnership and make educated decisions as a team.

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 marketing, partner marketing

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