At GrowSumo, we define partner marketing as a mutually beneficial marketing relationship between a company and its partners. Partners can be brand ambassadors, advocates, affiliates, referrals or resellers. Since this definition is still fairly broad, it can include anything from clients or the company’s network promoting and selling their products for rewards. Rewards are typically a percentage of the sale or a flat fee per sale or number of sales. Today we’re going to look at exactly how to prepare for your first partner program! Drawing up a solid plan is the key, as with any kind of marketing initiative. Let’s dig in!
To truly benefit from strategic partner relationships, the best practice we always recommend is first sharing your partner program with your existing digital network. Beginning with the customers and employees you know is often more successful off the bat than reaching out to hundreds of thousands of people - many of whom won’t be a fit with your product. Then it’s easy to see what worked best, and iterate from there! If you’re brand new to the scene and want to really get your feet wet, check out this post: How to Build and Grow Your Partner Marketing Program.
Building partnerships makes it easier and quicker for companies to grow, which is always the main goal. When you think about it, the connection between partnerships and growth makes a lot of sense. Working with a strong group of your known brand advocates that have access to a segment of your audience you haven’t yet tapped into also extends your circle of reach. You can also gain more credibility by association when your partner has high credibility with their audience. These are all great ammunition to continue preparing your 1st partner marketing program.
To begin, think about who is your intended audience. It’s important to keep these specific recipients in mind while gearing up your marketing messaging. You can also consider having multiple audience segments, which allows for more customized, targeted messaging. What’s great about collaborating is that your partner will have unique insights into their audience, and more specifically, the kind of messaging and delivery channels that are most effective for them. So once you’ve figured out who your partners should be and developed the marketing materials, content and images they need - they can pick and choose what will work best for their network of contacts.
When you prepare your first partnership program, and any thereafter, the goals are going to look vastly different from your company's general marketing goals. Are you looking to generate a certain number or percentage of signups, leads, sales or deals? Do you want a specific number of people to join the program? Are you interested in getting product feedback, engaging or retaining your customers and digital community members?
Goal setting can be become even more differentiated as you expand your initial program from 1 type of program, for example an ambassador or referral program into a reseller program, or expand your partner marketing across multiple product lines. . We all know that each company is built differently, and has unique goals in mind, so set a clear definition of what success looks like for your program before you start.
With your audience set, its time to decide how you want to deliver your message. Every partnership is different and unique so there's no standard messaging, but keep in mind your brand and the audience you’re targeting. When you're starting to create stellar messages, don't forget to keep in mind how and where you will get the messaging out! It’s smart to incorporate unique channels that your partner uses successfully already, as well as your own existing channels.
Following your initial launch, once your program is starting to hit it's goals and generate leads and/or sales, you can also take advantage of GrowSumo’s marketplace. There you can recruit partners who are already selling similar but not competing products to communities that are like yours. But this is a step for further down the line so we’ll touch on it another day.
The fun part about setting up your 1st partner marketing program is deciding how to structure your partner rewards! Obviously you want to reward your partners for a job well done, and also encourage them to keep marketing on your behalf! We always recommend a tiered program. The great thing about a tiered program is that it gives you the flexibility to have different levels, and reward differently for each. You can find a great example here.
While building partner relationships and trust can take time, it’s well worth the effort. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to start growing you firm! Partner marketing is a growing sector of the marketing industry, and it isn’t slowing down any time soon. Taking the leap to prepare and launch a partner marketing program is really the first step to a flourishing new level of growth, so what are you waiting for?
Whether you’re looking for product feedback, new ideas, or word of mouth referrals - customers should be one of your most powerful assets.
We understand that starting and growing a partner marketing program can be a daunting task. Here are answer to some of the most common questions about partner marketing.
Build a custom partner portal for your program, set rewards, and invite your partners
Rely on automated campaigns, experiment with challenges, and automate the best parts
Generate deep insights on how to optimize, segment, and scale your program