I was talking to a friend of mine last week who had recently joined the partner marketing group in his company. He was excited about the move and he was telling me about some of the partners they were looking at.

I asked him some questions, as we consultants do, and was a little surprised at some of the answers.

The thing that struck me the most was that the partner marketing team was focused on what potential partners could do for them…not what they could do for the potential partners. Or more importantly, what they could do for each other.

Partner marketing can be very powerful if applied correctly. But before I launch into the ways it can best be applied, let’s just pause and define what it is.

It is when two or more companies join forces to develop marketing programs that can meet their respective business goals.

It’s not new by any means and one great example is the way that Coca-Cola and McDonalds’ have worked together to leverage their joint strengths on World Cup and Olympic events over the years.

The need for a Partnership Marketing program exists when one company feels they can accomplish their goals better by leveraging the complementary strengths of another business. Normally their target markets or consumer base should be the same.

Partner marketing has gained a lot more popularity over the last few years as businesses find the scope offered by digital resources has made collaboration a lot easier.

However, I would suggest there are particular key things we should understand before engaging with potential partners. What should be included in a good partner marketing strategy? Here are my suggested 5 fundamentals for successful partner marketing.

1. Know their Target Market

Make sure that the potential partners are indeed going after the same target market and consumer base. If they are not, then the honeymoon period will be over fairly soon.

2. Understand their Objectives

Ensure we understand what they are trying to achieve. Is it market share, revenue or unit sales or is it just awareness?

3. Have Measurable Goals

If we understand what their objectives are then what will success look like? How can we measure it and ensure we have a dashboard that ensures we agree what is success for both of us. Have a review period agreed too.

4. Treat them at first like a Client

When we approach them, we should have a business plan in mind that we both could sign off on. We should be looking at the value we can bring to the party. How can we help them

5. Manage Expectations

One of the things that troubled me with the conversation I had with my friend is that his colleagues appeared to be over promising and under delivering to the partners. This is the quickest way to disaster and divorce. That’s why the understanding of the objectives and goals and having agreed to them in writing is so important.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but without these five, partner marketing maybe a very limited activity. I would suggest that these are the fundamentals for a successful, beneficial and long lasting partner marketing partnership. 

About the Author:

I am the customer relationship mentor, who helps those responsible for their company’s most important customers, to build and maintain their customer relationships and keep them happy, so that they can protect & grow their business.