Having a channel partner program in place is becoming an important piece of the overall customer acquisition plan for B2B marketers today. And it comes as no surprise. B2B buyers are researching your brand before actually engaging with you. In fact, roughly 80% of the B2B buyer’s journey is complete before a buyer reaches out to sales. Which is why it’s crucial to build relationships with customers using the help of partners.
Now let’s assume we’re working off the same definition of partner marketing.
What is a channel partner program?
Partner marketing leverages the synchronicities of two companies - each with its own brand equity, core expertise, unique value proposition, and its own distribution strength - to create strategic alliances to gain market share both companies otherwise may have a long and arduous process of acquiring.
For example, a US-based software company is looking to expand into EMEA. Instead of relocating employees, hiring and providing extensive training on culture and processes and GTM strategy, as well as footing the bill for the expensive overhead that comes with more offices, the company decides to develop strategic partnerships in EMEA. These partners are experts in the region, have their own networks and existing customer bases of the target profile, and can be quickly brought up to speed on the product offerings. This will decrease the timeline and cost to acquire and service customers in EMEA. Additionally, this partnership provides greater marketing exposure which, ultimately, drives new customers.
In this instance, the company is able to dramatically decrease the speed to market while increasing the quantity and quality of feedback from their target market, via local, experienced partners.
So, where do marketers start when it comes to developing a partner marketing plan?
Increase the Number of Partners in Your Channel Partner Program
Similar to running a referral program, partner marketing is in part a numbers game. Instead of limiting your program to a small niche group, you’re likely to see better results with expanded outreach. When companies open up their programs to different types of partners, activity spikes and the top of the funnel begins to expand.
Here are 3 ways to cast a wider net when it comes to reaching more potential partners:
- Promote Your Program: Don’t rely on partners to come to you or hope that the right partners will find your program. Announce your program launch through dedicated emails to those already in your network, such as industry associations, to start seeing results quickly. And keep the momentum rolling by sharing a media statement on LinkedIn or distributing a press release for every new partnership developed. This exposure is good for both sides and shares a unified front to the public.
- Add a Program Overview Landing Page: Provide partners with a comprehensive overview of the program by having a dedicated page to educate them. This also makes it easy to share URLs and point back to this page whenever promoting your partner program.
- Utilize a Self-Serve Registration Page: Having a registration page allows potential partners to “opt-in” and for you to collect additional information, such as their company profile and other useful details. Once they submit an application via the registration form, you can choose to immediately deliver access to your program, or do additional manual screening. Either way, applications or registration pages substantially reduce the front-end administrative time with prospective partners that may not be a good fit. Don't forget, for relationships you’ve established with existing partners, include them into your program to make participation turnkey.
While quality usually trumps quantity, it’s important to choose the right partners that make sense for your business and to the end consumer. There should be a synergy and balance in the relationship between two different organizations with unique, but complimentary offerings.
Typically, when companies have the right messaging and relevant incentives for partners that are adding to the top of the funnel, passing along leads, and even helping to close deals - a ripple effect is created.