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Question

How does your marketing team usually work with your partner team to promote partners to customers?

Answer
There are multiple teams and an org structure laid out here, so I’ll try to answer it best according to how our team is currently organized at Aircall. For reference, I sit under—and always have—the demand generation org which is essentially our entire marketing team concerning revenue. Customer marketing has been under operations or product marketing for us. I work with our North American-based tech partner managers on their individual partner plans. This includes, but isn’t limited to: partner business development (new contacts and strengthening GTM relationship with existing partnerships), integration GTM launches (major integration updates), and generating new business through referrals, partner marketplaces and comarketing campaigns. When customers come into play, it’s generally for integration GTM plays or comarketing campaigns. For example, a joint offer for your partner’s customers and their offer for Aircall customers is a great demand gen play for partners reaching new audiences. We promote these via customer marketing through emails or our monthly customer newsletter. If you’re on Crossbeam, even better. You can identify specific populations of your prospects that might be a customer of your partner, shared open opportunities for co-selling etc. If we’re launching new integration updates from a partner that may meet our customer’s needs, we’ll segment out those customers and promote the update to them via marketing or even our CSMs. For comarketing campaigns like webinars, both partners have to be upfront if they’re willing to promote to their customer bases and that the content is relevant. I’ve found with bigger partners, their customer marketing is often controlled by a different team, so it may not be as streamlined to promote to them as one thinks.
Question

Which co-marketing motions do you think are best suited for co-selling and why?

Answer
There could be different goals. Co-marketing and co-selling accomplish different things. If I'm understanding the question correctly, we're wondering what co-marketing activities are best for uncovering higher-intent leads for co-selling. Product-specific webinars that include some sort of interactive workshop that solves a specific problem your target audience could solve are a great start. For example, Aircall is a cloud-phone system. We partner with SMS/texting apps to solve that problem for businesses that need multi-channel touchpoints for sales or customer support. By co-hosting a live, interactive workshop with a texting partner which we require registrants to sign up for a free trial beforehand in order to follow along with the workflows, problems and solutions during the session uncover very high-intent leads. Another example is the mutual joint discount. What better way to follow up with a webinar like the one above with an exclusive discount for Aircall customers from the texting partner? This makes co-selling a natural part of the buyer journey and is expected. Aircall customers are getting this special discount, and once they show interested, will be able to speak with their Aircall CSM and/or the partner sales team to complete the sale.
Question

When you're focusing on growing partner marketing sourced pipeline, what are some issues you've seen that have resulted in failed campaigns/strategies?

Answer
I don't think there are failures when it comes to partner marketing. There's a lot of experimenting and learning due to the nature of partnerships--there are different types of partnerships, different partners per your industry and then every individual company has its own mix of complexities, resources, cultures etc. Honestly, I think one of the most ineffective "strategies" is trying to apply the same strategy or process to every single partner, and treat every relationship the same. This often comes out of positive intent like, "We want to be the best partner to everyone and treat all of our partners the same," but the reality is, that won't be effective--especially not in the long-term. When starting out with partner marketing campaigns and sourced revenue, and you don't have any historical data or ranking of your partnerships (Make sure you chat about this with your PAMs!), it's OK to be opportunistic and try many things with different partners...but keep track of these results and begin building a ranking and prioritization system for you partners. It will be key to your longer-term success. Also, as with any marketing, make sure you keep the end goal and results in mind from the beginning. A lot of times, we just default to a partner webinar, an ebook or some other type of marketing deliverable without actually thinking about what kind of results we want. Whether it's just brand alignment, exposure and top-of-funnel leads or higher intent more sales-ready leads for co-selling, the mutually agreed-upon result will dictate what kind of partner marketing activities need to happen.
Question

What are some common pitfalls to avoid for tech partnership programs?

Answer
Treating all partners as equals and not having a way to rank and prioritize your partnerships on both qualitative and quantitative metrics. These can change, grow and evolve as your program matures. You don't even have to publish them or tier your partners publicly to begin with--it can be on the backend--but make sure there's some system of making sense of partnerships. Even when you're starting out, map out what types of partners (integration/tech, community, affiliate, resellers etc) will be helpful in meeting X and Y business goals. You need to rank these partners and tie them to particular areas of the business in order to set up your metrics for success and prove value. Another common pitfall is expecting immediate results. Partnerships are generally a longer-term play. If your company doesn't already have existing relationships or have employees who have those relationships, it's going to take some time to build them. You have to give a lot in the beginning and learn how to provide value, show your own value and be the best partner before you start receiving from partners. Lastly, I'd say another pitfall is not realizing that partnership people are human and the job is inherently relationship-based. People want to work more with people they enjoy working with. Don't be robotic, rigid or vengeful. You won't get very far in your partner program.
Question

What can I ask from my tech partners to make it easier for us to get our customers to look at and use their software?

Answer
Why not ask your customers what they want? That's a great place to start and see what exactly your customers are looking for--from the way they want to digest and synthesize information, product updates or explore solutions from partners. When I worked at a VAR (value-added reseller) we worked with hundreds (literally) of ISVs (independent software vendors). We had to compile our solutions in an efficient and digestible way for our customer base. One way we did this was through a monthly webinar series that showcased our best partners in different aspects of business automation. By wrapping it up into a series with a boilerplate description, clear expectations and a short, captivating presentation format, we were able to easily cycle through partner solutions to our customer base. This also included polls during the webinar to lead score attendees for CAMs (customer account managers) to follow up with on higher-intent leads who wanted more info or a demo of the partner solution. Another component was incorporating a survey after each monthly webinar to poll our customers on which automation topic they wanted to hear from next--this would determine which partners we prioritized. Also, customer communications like customer email updates are a great way to cycle in partners. Have partners guest write blogs, workflow or how-to articles based on their solution expertise. Include excerpts, quotes, offers and discounts from your partners for additional exposure and value to your customers.
Question

What have you experienced to be successful tactics to generate leads for partners (for-partner marketing)?

Answer
You have to define success first and what results you're looking for. This question is asking about specifically generating leads. So, for higher-funnel lead generation, I would recommend: - Virtual Industry panels or AMAs: Bring in an expert from your industry (or a few), or even an influencer if there are any in your field. You can have someone from your company and your partner company either moderate and/or be a part of the panel. This gets a lot of attention and leads if the topic is timely and relevant to your audience. Split the coordination and set-up of the webinar (landing page, emails, graphics etc) 50/50. - Comprehensive "State of" or Benchmark Reports: If you're able to partner with a company or two you can use your own customer data, conduct research or hire a 3rd party to compile data and create an overarching authoritative type of report. These are great for your industry or field for lead gen, will often be able to collect leads throughout the year and then be repeated again on a regular basis (quarterly, monthly, yearly etc). - Templates: Another content download. Partner with a company and create a template that can be used by your target audience and provide value to their everyday. Whether it's a sales plan, a sales cadence outreach, or an end-of-the-year checklist, it can live as an evergreen lead generation asset honested on one, or both of the partners' websites.
Question

How do you choose which technology partners are a good fit for your business?

Answer
What partners can provide value to what your customers need? What tech partners can fill gaps where your product is weaker or missing? It depends on your business and product strategy and that will determine where tech partners come into play. Tech partners are inherently different from affiliate or reseller partners (often referred to as channel). While co-selling and referrals will come from tech partnerships, think about the core need that's coming from your customers, your target audience, which audiences you want to reach 1-3-5 years from now etc that a tech partnership can solve. This is also thinking about your partnerships proactively and in an outbound mindset. If you have an open API and provide support to developers, you'll find that there's also the opportunity for inbound integrations being built and your own business being that central node in the ecosystem. Which ecosystems does it make sense based on your customer pain points and business opportunity to be a part of? What type of ecosystem could your business lead or be a central node in?
Question

What are the most effective examples of co-marketing you've done or have seen recently? (What channels, resource types, etc.?)

Answer
One of HubSpot's top downloaded assets was a project I launched with them while at Aircall! It's a sales planning template. During our campaign period, we generated over 12k leads, globally. They host the asset on their site and see hundreds of organic downloads monthly. Check it out here: https://offers.hubspot.com/sales-plan-template I actually would love to see some innovation and freshness when it comes to comarketing! I've done all of the typical stuff (webinars, ebooks, content, discounts, bundles etc) and would love to see more B2B brands come together in more B2C style collaborations. Think about how Nike or Spotify collaborates with other partners and brands.
Question

What characteristics or skills do you find most "good" partner marketers have?

Answer
Good partner marketers have to be people persons. If you're interacting directly with partner companies and their staff, you need to be friendly and enjoyable to work with. "Easy to work with" is a qualitative point of data I grade partners on. You have to be social, be a natural at making connections and connecting people, and be able to create relationships that are beyond transactional. Partner marketers who are flexible and can see the bigger picture will also go far. If you are very rigid or "by the books" you will miss out on a lot of opportunities. It does take critical thinking to determine which opportunities could be worth taking a shot on versus passing up, but the important lesson here is to have an open mind. There are a million and one things that can go wrong in a partnership or partner marketing campaign, especially when you're dealing with two or more companies with different goals, resources, budgets, timelines etc. but the person who is able to "plan" for inevitable change, thrive in some ambiguity will thrive in partnerships. Good project managers also make great partner marketers. With many people, someone needs to keep track of the team, the goal and the project. Someone who is organized and able to keep track of, and drive, many moving pieces will excel.
Question

What are the most valuable marketing benefits you provide to 1/ consulting partners and 2/ technology partners?

Answer
At Aircall, check out our Aircall Partner Program: https://aircall.io/partners/ but in a nutshell: Channel Partners: - Rev share - Comarketing opportunities - Dedicated CAM Tech Partners: - Integration dev support and open API - Campaigns-in-a-box and partner marketing resources - Custom comarketing opportunities (top performing and strategic partners)
Question

For co-marketing partnerships focused on digital promotion to each company’s user base (via emails, blog posts, etc.), how have you found success in crafting the user journey online? Is this something you e dealt with?

Answer
Yes--this just goes back to good ol' regular marketing. Think about your prospect's buyer journey and what types of marketing campaigns or tactics make the most sense for the top-of-funnel, middle-of-funnel and bottom-of-funnel stages of the buyer journey. What does the buyer journey look like specifically for your business? Now, when considering partners, you may have a lot of different options for looping in a partner for a ToFu webinar on industry best practices. But, if you're lower in the funnel in the consideration/sale phase of your buyer's journey, they may be looking for bundled offers, discounts or other solutions for their needs. The way you present a partner here would be much different from the top of the funnel.
Question

How do you know if your partner co-marketing strategy is successful?

Answer
Did it generate the results that were initially discussed and agreed upon between the partners involved? If it didn't, is everyone satisfied with the results that are transpiring? Is there progress toward bigger rocks or milestones in the partnership? You need to have these key metrics outlined and partner growth plans established before you can say a campaign, program or strategy is successful or not. It may also be successful for one side of the partnership, but not for the other. It's important to conduct post-mortem sessions and have open, honest and transparent feedback with your partners in order to mutually achieve goals.