24th May, 2022
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- New avenues and models of B2B marketing are rapidly gaining a foothold in the industry to counter the increased uncertainty and volatility
- Partnership marketing can aid B2B growth and expansion while reducing investment
- This blog discusses seven practical tips to get the most out of a B2B partnership
Partner marketing has emerged to become a viable and sustainable pillar of growth for B2B businesses in the past few years. By collaborating with companies with a similar product mix and portfolio, B2B businesses can enhance their marketing impact while reducing costs. When two businesses combine their forces to engage the same set of audiences, they share the knowledge, expertise, resources, costs, and responsibility.
Typically, businesses enter this type of association when they might not have adequate time, resources, experts, or strategic focus to solve their communication challenges. When two companies utilize each others’ knowledge, distribution channels, reputation, or simply the resources, a partner can help B2B businesses tremendously and create a mutually beneficial relationship.
But in order to maximally leverage partnership programs, it’s essential to have the right plan of action from the get-go. This article will dive into seven best practices that B2B companies can use to leverage partnership marketing to the fullest.
#1 Set clear expectations about the partnership program
It’s crucial to set the right expectations about the shared goals and deliverables with a partnership marketing program. Ensuring a clear alignment between business objectives and having a detailed plan of action with clearly defined responsibilities is key to successful partner marketing campaigns. Since partner marketing will be a collaboration and almost certainly involve a give-and-take between partners, it is essential to have a roadmap that outlines mutual goals, investments, activities, efforts, and KPIs that will be tracked through the course of the partnership.
This is key to staying on track and achieving mutually beneficial goals as the partnership evolves over time. For instance, common performance metrics to measure can financial costs involved in facilitating the collaboration, the number of new leads that have come through the program, increased digital activity or traffic, impact on the growth of sales, and more.
#2 Communicate value offering to partners clearly
Finding the right business partner is one of the most critical first steps that can influence the success and scope of the collaboration. In order to attract the right partners, it’s essential to clearly communicate what the value offering of a partnership can bring for potential candidates. Instead of finding a partner and then defining these values and vision, a better approach can be to devise a value offering for potential partners and then look for businesses that fit the bill.
Define in detail how the association can be beneficial for both companies from different business standpoints—sales, financial return, business synergy, joint offering differentiation, and more. It might also be helpful to ask organizations interested in a partnership about what specific KPIs they would like to improve. These could be related to online lead generation, sales growth, customer acquisition, and so on. Similarly, convey the scope of resource and knowledge sharing and accountability.
#3 Start small and stay focused
It’s easy for B2B marketers to lose focus on quality and mistake the number of partnerships as a measure of success. Since partner audiences can be crucial to acquiring new customers for the businesses, it can seem as though more partners will guarantee more leads and customers. That is probably why many companies aggressively onboard new partners in a short span of time, particularly when they are starting out.
However, delivering a value proposition to buyers consistently across all partnerships can be extremely difficult. Furthermore, businesses that are new to partnership marketing might find it challenging to ensure consistency in processes, vision, goals, and measurement with different partners as they are also in the process of defining these aspects for themselves. Instead, it is better to pay more attention to a limited number of partners, maybe even one to begin with, and optimize different aspects of the same before bringing in more partners at scale.
#4 Leverage partnerships with complementary products and service offerings
At its core, partner marketing is an avenue to leverage a partner’s marketing reach to reach new customers and increase business growth. To leverage this benefit, there has to be an overlap in the target audience to some extent. Finding partners that have access to a similar customer audience or businesses that target identical customer profiles is an integral part of the process. A good starting point can be to approach businesses that offer complementary products and services and are trying to solve similar customer challenges. For example, a company that offers customized CRM solutions can partner with an email marketing automation provider as their ideal customer profile is likely to have some degree of similarity.
#5 Utilize cross-promotion opportunities effectively
If the business synergy and fit are strong, B2B companies in a partnership marketing program can utilize different marketing channels to boost campaign ROIs by leveraging each others’ USP. One way to do this is to identify any cross-promotion opportunities and make them the centerpiece of the marketing campaign. With active collaboration from both sides, partnership programs can yield many ways to promote each other’s products and services.
This can happen through a joint-offering of services or through other marketing avenues such as producing combined thought leadership content, case studies, podcasts, and more. Similarly, businesses can offer specialized discounts and exclusive offers to customers when they avail of partner products or services.
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#6 Provide partnership marketing content in different formats
The adage that “content is king” is a claim that is largely uncontested in the world of B2B marketing. This is especially true for inbound marketing—since buyers are usually engaged at the top of the marketing funnel mainly through content in different forms. The same also applies to joint offerings that are borne out of a partnership marketing program. However, as many B2B marketers can attest, getting the messaging and content right so that it resonates with the audience is challenging enough for one product or service. Doing this simultaneously for two and successfully explaining the benefits of the unique collaboration can be even more tricky and complex.
To help prospects and leads understand the benefits of the combined offerings, creating the right content in the right format and from the right perspective is crucial. In order to nurture prospects in an optimized manner, B2B marketers must find ways to communicate complex information in shorter, bite-sized portions that do not cause any fatigue. Sticking to the preferred content types of the buyer that are easily viewable and understandable is key. These may include infographics, videos of shorter lengths, whitepapers, and social media posts that outline the salient features of the joint offering, alongside the potential benefit of choosing the products or services together.
#7 Keep messaging focused on customer needs and pain-points
One way to make the content and messaging more effective is to tether the entire campaign to one or two fundamental values, benefits, or ideas. A solution-oriented or product-first approach can cause customers to be overwhelmed and may even complicate the buying process. This is particularly true if one of the partners is a new entrant or isn’t as well-recognized.
So B2B firms must recognize that the responsibility to communicate the advantages of the joint offering lies with them and not the customer. Since it’s easy for customers to get bogged down by the details of the value proposition of the partnership, it’s better to lead with an approach that is focused on customer needs and pain-points. Showing that the partnership truly understands what customers want and the issues they face is essential. Thus, positioning the joint offering as an effective solution to tackle common customer problems is one way to showcase the benefits of the partnership and offer a two-in-one solution.
Partnership marketing in B2B: The last word
Partnership marketing is an efficient strategy that can catapult B2B businesses to new levels of growth and expansion. In order to leverage this marketing channel most effectively in the B2B space, companies have to do their due diligence with regard to the partners they choose, how they carry the partnership forward, and how they present their joint offering to potential buyers. If done right, partner marketing can help businesses acquire new customers, increase revenue, and increase their market with minimal investment and resources.
Contact us to know more about our B2B Partner Marketing Services.