Although many benefits come with co-marketing with technology partners, it’s essential to establish a framework to guide your partner selection.
To ensure a solid return on investment, this framework should be based on the overarching goals of your business and overall partnerships program goals.
For example, by determining which part of the SaaS customer lifecycle your organization is focused on, you can determine where to focus your technology partnership and co-marketing efforts to better demonstrate your value to the organization.
Having a clear framework helps to decide which partner to co-market with and what co-marketing activities you’ll engage in based on the goals and logistics of your partnership.
Before investing time and resources in a co-marketing campaign, it’s important to understand your strategic objectives and where your organization is most in need of marketing support.
For example, if you need to establish credibility and social proof, your ideal co-marketing partner will look different than if you need more prospect data or social reach.
Once you have a clear strategic objective in mind, you can create your Ideal Partner Profile for co-marketing.
While you can adjust this profile as your goals evolve and you observe outcomes from different partner types, it's advisable to begin with a basic framework.
As your technology partner program matures, you can establish a formal and programmatic program with different partner tiers, but before you can reach that scale, there should still be an internal framework that guides your overall co-marketing investments and motions.
Note that you may have more than one Ideal Partner Profile for co-marketing. One ideal partner may be for actively running marketing campaigns together, while others may be for entering their in-app marketplace or data sharing.
We'll discuss the key criteria for selecting an ideal partner to co-market a technology partnership with.
The first thing you want to look for when identifying ideal co-marketing partners is that they have a similar Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) to yours. This means that their ideal customers should match yours in terms of industry, annual revenue, size, interests, and buyer personas.
Your software should address a problem that your technology partner's product doesn't. Making it more likely for both parties to introduce each other to their valuable customers and potential clients.
Account mapping with your partners helps identify shared customers, leads, and prospects. It also pinpoints the specific areas of overlap, which can guide your choice of marketing strategies for the best results.
A technology partner with substantial customer overlap points to Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) alignment and potential for product integration. Overlaps of 70% or more can be viewed as highly favorable, while less than 10% may suggest that going forward with the partnership might not be resource-efficient.
It may also be highly valuable if a partner has many customers who are your prospects or leads. In this case, putting on webinars, creating customer-facing materials, and being featured in your partner’s in-app marketplace will get you in front of prospects with an implicit endorsement from your partner.
Some SaaS organizations engage in account mapping by sharing CSV files of their account information. This may work if you are a smaller company with an ecosystem that is just starting to grow.
However, this method of account mapping becomes a challenge when you have more partners and when you need more accurate data.
Sharing data via spreadsheets requires manual updating and cross-referencing. It can also pose security issues. As your technology partner program grows, using account mapping software will better enable you to securely share overlapping data without having to manually update the information.
With these types of tools shared audiences, prospects, or customers can easily be uncovered in one place without much manual effort.
Whether customers, leads or prospects will value the integration between you and your partner’s products can determine if a partnership should occur and dictate the joint marketing activities you undertake.
If the integration offers substantial value, it signals a strong synergy between your products, making it suitable for product-focused marketing efforts. This can include joint webinars or featuring each other on your respective marketplaces.
To understand which integration use cases and technologies are going to drive the most value to your customers, have tools and processes in place with client-facing teams to capture feature requests and feedback from prospects and users. Periodic surveys and interviews with customers can also help uncover technology partnerships that are in high demand.
By uncovering mutual customer and prospect overlap and identifying if a joint solution will be of high value to users, one can estimate the Total Addressable Market (TAM) for an integration.
Overall, ensure that the use cases and the value proposition you co-create will be considered valuable to B2B SaaS consumers.
Ensure that your brand's story and values are in sync with those of your potential technology co-marketing partner. When you engage in joint marketing activities, your audience will link the two brands together.
Be aware of the story that your partner's brand communicates and ensure that it aligns with your own narrative or enhances the message you want your brand to convey.
Additionally, weigh your partner's brand equity – the value consumers place on their brand. Collaborating can elevate your brand equity through extended reach and association with your partner.
Early-stage startups can gain credibility by partnering with established companies, while more mature companies can showcase innovation by collaborating with newer startups.
For instance, American Express teamed up with Foursquare to enhance its modern appeal, while Foursquare benefited from American Express's established reputation.
In the end, evaluate how well your brand aligns with your potential co-marketing partner and weigh the mutual benefits of leveraging each other's brand reputation.
In the end of the day, a successful co-marketing campaign hinges on a responsive and active relationship. That boils down to having a partnership where both parties invest and engage, creating a mutually beneficial dynamic.
While it may be a challenge to fully determine the beginning of the relationship, there are signs to look out for.
Determine how much time and budget a partner is going to invest in the relationship. Ask questions about what resources they will contribute, suss out how responsive they are, and try to gauge their excitement about co-marketing with you.
If a potential partner is excited and responsive, they may be more likely to overdeliver rather than underdeliver on what is planned.
Coordinating across different companies and departments can be challenging. Knowing your partner is invested and and will actively support the relationship ensures that activities will launch on time and plans will be successfully executed.
In addition to understanding the resources a potential co-marketing partner brings to the table, use initial discussions to gauge how their team collaborates both internally and externally.
Consider kick-starting the relationship with a mini-collaboration or product information sharing before diving into a formal co-marketing agreement or bigger projects.
Ask questions about how they currently work with partners and vendors. Keep in mind that a potential partner might be invested, but not gel with your team's work style.
A team that wants to communicate via cell phone on the weekend and late at night may not be a good fit for a team that works 9 to 5 and prefers email, for example.
Likewise, if they tend to skirt around privacy regulations and frequently change their output, they might clash with a team that's meticulous in planning and avoids potential legal pitfalls.
While you want to make sure that you are entering a co-marketing partnership with a company that will add value to yours, you should also examine what value you can offer to a potential partner.
Sustainable, long-term relationships are not one way and you should ensure there is something valuable in the relationship for the partner. Value might come in different forms, such as a large audience on social media, an integration marketplace, a popular brand or integration, certain expertise, or even just the willingness to produce high-quality marketing content and resources.
Why prioritize genuine value for your partners? While many organizations view competitors as those offering similar solutions, it’s crucial to take a broader view. In today's expansive partner ecosystems, you should consider not only direct competitors who offer a similar solution, but also other software competing for attention within the same partner network.
To stand out in your technology partner program, you need to be the preferred choice that partners want to invest in and recommend during their customer discussions.
One approach is to simplify processes for your partners and ensure they feel they're receiving added value beyond just revenue share when collaborating with you.
This can be achieved by offering a dedicated point of contact, such as a partner marketing manager or partner alliance manager.
You can also work to give them the tools and technology to succeed without having to pick up the phone every time they call you if they need certain information.
Overall, identify strategies to reduce entry barriers and streamline the collaboration process for partners working with you.
One way you can use this framework is by going through the 6 questions above and ranking your potential co-marketing partner on a scale of 1-5, totaling a total score of 30 points.
For example, when looking at whether prospects and customers will care about an integration partnership between you and a partner, if little to no customers have expressed interest in an integration between your two solutions and there’s little overlap between your ICP then that section would get a score of 1.
However, if 70% of your prospects are using your potential partner’s solution, and many requests have been reported from client-facing teams, that would earn a score of 5.
Looking at the score for your potential co-marketing partners can assist in determining which relationships to prioritize and invest more resources in. Note that this is just one example of how you can make the prioritization and selection of co-marketing partners more quantitative.
You can also use our template below to score your potential co-marketing partners.