Partnerships have been around a long time and are in the marketing arsenal of most large companies today. But are you getting the most out of them?
While partnerships can be very effective at generating leads among small and midsize businesses (SMBs), they can also fail miserably—generating few or no leads even after loads of time and money are spent on them.
Here are three of the most effective—and non-obvious—ways we have helped our clients get more out of their partnerships:
Create a partnership scoring system
It’s important to have a disciplined and systematic approach to pursuing partnerships. Otherwise, inherent biases can cloud your judgment and lead to partnerships that simply don’t produce results or require too much effort.
For example, your company may have an existing partnership with another company that seems, on the surface, to be an ideal partner. But for a host of reasons, that company may not actually be the optimal partner. Perhaps their products or services aren’t aligned very well with yours. Perhaps their price point is so different from yours that promoting your product simply won’t resonate with their audience.
We have helped clients create a partnership-scoring system based on criteria that will greatly improve the odds of success for their partnerships. A scoring methodology offers an objective way to evaluate whether that prospective partner is a good fit—before too much time and money is spent on it and without the natural biases that can seep in.
The best scoring systems are easy to deploy. One client we recently created a partnership scorecard built a spreadsheet where each potential partner is rated on eight criteria—using green, yellow or red score—to easily determine which partnerships should be pursued, as well as which shouldn’t. It’s also a way to identify factors highlighting where a partner might not be right for your company, but those factors can be discussed and enhanced with the partner .
Focus on the right selection factors
It’s important to focus on the right factors when scoring prospective partnerships. While the factors will vary depending on your company’s products or processes, here are a few examples of important criteria that apply to most:
- Audience alignment: How well does the prospective partner’s audience line up with yours? Are you targeting startups but the other company serves more established businesses? Are you focused on the same industries?
- Value proposition articulation: How well will the prospective partner articulate your company’s value proposition to their SMB audience? If they’re just plopping a link to your website in an online “marketplace” and not explaining the benefits of your product or service, you might want to rethink that partnership, especially if your product is complex and requires a more in-depth explanation.
- Lead qualification: How does the partner ensure that only qualified leads are generated? Leads need either to be qualified by the partner—which can happen in various ways—or the lead needs to opt-in to being contacted by your company.
Give partners the tools to communicate about your brand effectively.
While your partner knows their audience, you know your value prop better than anyone. You want to make sure they’re hitting on the right points—the same ones your website or sales reps use when talking with SMB prospects.
This means providing them with marketing assets that they can use whenever an SMB shows interest in hearing more about your company. And, if the partner will use it, you should also provide them with content that educates their SMB audience about your brand and generates demand. Also, keep in mind that partnerships are ongoing relationships, so you’ll need to nurture those partnerships and their SMB audience with content, promotions or other updates. For example, perhaps the partner will agree to send out a link to a blog post or article from your company every few months.
This partnership content should include marketing assets that are continually updated so that your partners have the latest and greatest information about your brand.
RSL Media can help your company forge stronger, more effective partnerships that generate more and better SMB leads. Let me know if you’d like to discuss further.
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