Partner marketing does a lot more than help build stronger acquisition channels, it also helps you retain users over time. Choosing the right partners — and making sure they fit with your existing target base and problem set — is essential for creating a program that not only works, but scales.
The Hockey Example You’re in high school. You’re new to school and just found out you have an extra ticket to see a hockey game but haven’t decided who to take. You’ve narrowed it down to three options, but need to make a decision soon.
Friend 1 — Tom Tom is a hockey fan. He was one of the first people you met after you started school, and was quick to take you around and introduce you to a few people. He’s very popular and well-liked amongst your peers.
Friend 2 — Jessica Jessica is a hockey fan as well. She’s incredibly outgoing and has been friendly toward you since you’ve started school. She says hi to you every day, often takes a few minutes to chat with you between classes. In fact, she even let you borrow her copy of Die Hard, because you said it was one of your favourite movies.
Friend 3 — Jerry Jerry is a huge sports fan, in particular, basketball. You and Jerry have gotten close since you’ve started at school, and you even walk home together every day. Not to mention you guys have the same lunch period, so you guys meet up and hang out during pretty frequently.
All three of them go to school with you and could potentially go to the game. However, you can only choose one.
Jerry isn’t a hockey fan, so naturally, he isn’t the best option to take. This doesn’t mean Jerry isn’t a great friend or a good person, but simply that there is a misalignment for that particular event.
Both Tom and Jessica are huge hockey fans, but since you can only take one — you need to look a little deeper.
Tom spent a lot of time with you on your first day: taking you around, introducing you to people, and making sure you fit in. However, he’s been super busy and since then hasn’t seen you too much other than for typically scheduled classes.
Jessica on the other hand, met you a few times but has since made sure to say hi to you every day in the halls. Although she wasn’t the one that took you around on your first day, she’s been helpful and attentive since meeting you. She even knew your tastes and lent you something personal that matched your interests.
Tom, who's been extraordinarily kind and forthcoming on your first day or Jessica, who's taken the time to get to know you over the past couple weeks? If this was a matter of you (the customer) choosing which friend (product/company) to choose, odds are you would take Jessica.
Jessica represents a company/product that took the time to nurture and get to know you, the customer. She took the time to build a relationship with you, and although Tom (another product) has similar qualities to Jessica — her communication was less marketing (initial touch-point) heavy and more gradual and organic.
Building retention into your product is a lot like building relationships with people around you. There are things that you can control, ie, how you treat someone, what kind of messaging you use, or what type of partners you want to work with; but sometimes you’re just not a good fit — like Jerry.
Partner marketing doesn’t help you become a better product but it does help to build more organic touch points that build relationships over time. Moreover, it helps put your product ahead of your competitors when customers are still deciding between products.
In short, partner marketing (or channel marketing) helps strengthen your company’s brand and shorten your sales cycle — but its still up to you, the company, to make sure you’re there to close the leads your channel partners bring in.
In this case, Tom represents a company that did an excellent job at initial onboarding and showing you around. However, Tom didn’t spend enough time customizing his outreach; getting to know you, or re-engaging you. Therefore, your relationship wasn’t as strong as with Jessica.
Jessica helped you build a habit. Instead of focusing wholly on onboarding and initial marketing — she focused on developing rapport over time. Although she didn’t have a standout first impression, she was consistent and personal.
Jerry, on the other hand, did everything right but lacked product-market fit.
It leads to sustainable metrics, compelling insights, and a more natural acquisition both overall and for your advocates. If you have a healthy product that fits with your market, advocates will have a much stronger product to promote and support. Moreover, it is more likely for you to find partners that are heavily passionate and engaged by your product.
Lastly, channel marketing is not a stand-alone strategy. It requires your product to be ready and your campaigns to be strong. Partners help add personal touches and can very quickly expand your reach and multiply the leads you have coming in; it’s up to you, however, to set your partners up for success and keep them coming back.
Have a strong product or community? Interested in seeing how a partner marketing program can amplify your brand? Don't be shy - talk with our team of experts about how channel marketing can help your company grow!
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