1+1=3 – How Partner Marketing Defies the Laws of Math

If you enjoy requesting cars on your smartphone, you were probably excited to learn that Uber has partnered with Google Maps, offering ride estimates along with driving directions, and allowing you to launch the Uber app in one tap. Personally, I was excited about the partnership for another reason – it’s a great example of partner marketing.

In the technology landscape, partnerships rarely make headlines, but they’re everywhere. As the tech industry has learned, partnering with another product or solution can take both parties beyond the sum of their parts – it’s one of the rare cases in which 1+1 equals 3.

 Why Partner Marketing Works

At Marketo, I manage and develop communications with our LaunchPoint partners, grow our ecosystem, and help these organizations make the most of our partnership. Here are the three primary benefits of partner marketing, from my observations:

1) You double your audience. Partner marketing increases your audience size, giving you a platform to communicate with a whole new audience. That’s why, as you explore partnerships, it’s important to gain an understanding of each potential partner’s reach. Find out how many users and/or customers they have, how many names their databases contain, and how many people attend their events. These are indicators of how much pipeline you could generate by investing in the partnership.

2) You gain credibility. Partner marketing allows you to leverage the credibility of your partner’s brand, which is especially important if you are just starting out. Partnering with a credible brand in your space sends a strong signal to industry thought leaders and customers about the strength of your product and the potential of your company.

3) You save money. Partner marketing often means you can share the costs of marketing programs. For example, if you are throwing a party at a conference you can share the costs of the space, food, beverages, and giveaways.

Getting Started with Partner Marketing

To get your partner marketing program off the ground, start by identifying a target list of companies that provide a complementary solution or product to yours.  If you’re in technology, look for a company whose product integrates with yours, or provides a feature yours doesn’t (but isn’t a direct competitor). In other industries, your potential partner list might not be so obvious – so take a cue from Uber and GoogleMaps, and think outside of the box. Any company who isn’t a competitor, but could potentially be relevant to your audience, is worth consideration.

Another way to brainstorm potential partners is to talk to your sales team. Which companies come up most often in sales deals? This is a good indicator that you have joint customers with these companies, which is the acid test for identifying whether your solutions are complementary. Again, the key is that you’re marketing to the same audiences – or that you should be.

Next, set up exploratory calls with your target list of partners to discuss the joint value proposition. Describe the pain point you’re solving and list the benefits of using the two solutions together. In short, how do you create that “1+1 equals 3”?

If you can identify joint customers, you’ll be opening the door to co-marketing opportunities – event sponsorships, speaking opportunities, joint webinars, guest blogging, case studies, content assets…the sky’s the limit. Any co-marketing done with joint customers will strengthen both of your messages.

Questions about getting started with partner marketing? I’d love to answer them — just leave me a note in the comments below.