This article was contributed by Robert Gosselin, marketing strategist at Cornerstone Business Advisors
In 1960s, E. Jerome McCarthy proposed a marketing concept called the “four Ps,” which he defined as the elements essential for an effective marketing plan. McCarthy’s idea caught on rapidly and is still used by companies around the world to create marketing plans around product, price, place and promotion.
I’d like to add a P to that list.
Companies can use partner marketing to expand their brands, message deliverables, lead generation and revenue. In a partner marketing program, companies that offer complementary services join together to equally share the costs of reaching new customers. No matter the size of the company, the goal is to treat each partner the same when actively pursuing business opportunities. An example would be a marketing program with partners that offer cyber security solutions, data center optimization and general IT solutions.
I prefer not to include competitive companies in the same marketing mix. If you do represent competitors, then design different programs for each company, and if possible pursue different opportunities.
All for One, One for All
The key to success for any partner marketing program is for each company to share the goal of winning business by associating with others in the partnership. By combining resources, the marketing plan for the group can become more expansive. For example, if 10 or 20 companies can share in the overall cost of a campaign, then they can expand their marketing efforts to drive leads and brand awareness at a much lower cost to each individual company. Depending on the target market, these marketing efforts could include public relations, SEO, webinars, HTML emails, a dedicated web site specific to the campaign, trade show participation – either real or virtual – and marketing collateral for key decision makers.
By sharing in the joint cost of marketing, companies of different sizes gain value by association. The smaller companies gain from greater brand association with much larger companies, and the larger companies gain insight into future acquisitions, technology not invented within their company, and small business classifications that can help them win more government business.
Once the marketing program is prepared, signed off on and supported by all participants, and budgets are agreed on, then the work of administering the partner marketing campaign begins. Communication with all participating companies is critical to the success of any partner marketing program. Collecting leads, assigning them to the proper sales team, and reporting to all participants is important for unity and conversion success. Just as successful companies hold quarterly business reviews, so should participants in a partner marketing campaign. The program administrator needs to fully report on what programs were developed, the results achieved, who was assigned the leads, the conversion percentages, and the resulting revenue. Adjustments to the marketing plan can be made to accommodate all partners to ensure fairness of reach to prospective customers.
Partner Marketing Contributes to a Niche Strategic Solution
Bringing together the right partners to create a niche strategic solution creates a much stronger sales message. The expertise offered by the combined partnerships overcomes challenges from incumbents and provides a more differentiated approach to solving customers’ problems. Research can uncover trends in a partner company’s verticals that should be addressed, and can prompt a company to invent a new business model. It also can open new channels of distribution that some partners have but others don’t. Conducting webinars, seminars and training programs also can open up doors of opportunity to new business.
The Power of Partner Marketing
Partner marketing can help a company reach much larger target audiences than its own budget would ever allow, and working with recognized brands will elevate its value by association. By sharing equally in the cost of a fully integrated partner marketing plan, a company can stretch its marketing dollars and invest money for other activities.
Partner marketing should be considered the cornerstone of any marketing initiatives. Reaching sales goals requires a multitude of marketing tools and a large investment of money and time. The next time a partner marketing program is offered to your company, consider the high returns it can offer, or take the initiative and create your own programs.
The Cornerstone team includes former C-Level executives, successful entrepreneurs and advisors who offer unmatched experience in delivering advanced, custom-tailored, results-oriented solutions for business leaders. Cornerstone has worked with hundreds of companies that range from fast-growth start-ups to Fortune 500 corporations. It developed the Performance Culture System™ to help clients implement best practices and drive high performance throughout their organization. For more information, visit www.launchgrowexit.com, call 910-681-1420, or email [email protected].
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