As a software vendor, developing valuable partnerships is an important way to grow. It helps establish credibility for the ISV’s offer, and can provide necessary improvements to solution features. As a marketing tool, partnerships can also increase visibility for the ISV since co-marketing or co-selling initiatives can be an integral part of such collaborations — this can help the ISV branch out into new markets abroad, and increase its customer base.
What is a partner ecosystem?
According to Julie Ritchie, blog writer at Marketo, a partner ecosystem is “a system of record that displays all of the partnerships a company has created.” Of course, this can vary greatly from one company to another since each has a customer base with different requirements. Some ISVs have a partner ecosystem that consists of reviews or an app store, while others may have service partners, local resellers or a developer community. But while the partner ecosystem of each ISV is inherently different from one to the next, what is similar throughout is the competitive edge that such a partner network brings.
How can you develop a partner ecosystem to improve your offer as an ISV?
Building a partner ecosystem starts by knowing your market, who your buyer personas are, and what they want, as well as understanding who is serving them and how (ie your direct and indirect competition). Conducting a competitive analysis as part of a marketing audit will help you identify ways in which you can enhance your solution with complimentary offers. OEM partnerships, value-added reseller networks and APIs can be explored as ways to do that. By reaching out to the companies you think would make a good fit, you can start to establish relationships with them. In the beginning, this relationship can be as simple as being listed on their website as a partner, including your company’s logo or a short description; even better is a link to a dedicated landing page that you have created for such a purpose. Once the partnership is in play, you can co-promote both brands through content collaboration.
How can I leverage my partner ecosystem to better market my solution?
By joining another company’s partner ecosystem and building one of your own, you can gain visibility for your solution that is twofold. On both listings, you will need to show your customers how the partnership complements your technology, making it of greater value for the buyer. Compatibility with other solutions is a big selling point nowadays, and a partner ecosystem helps this point to stand out. Showing the potential user how your solution is different from your competition (and better because of the partnerships you have created) will help them make the best choice when they are ready to purchase.
Marketing tips for your partner ecosystem
Here are five tips to make your partner listing work for you:
- Make sure your listing is always up-to-date. As with a website, the partner listing (both yours and you partners) needs to be kept current, and should be updated regularly. Any time there is a change to your offer or your marketing messages, the listing should reflect that.
- Make the partnership official. Issuing press releases to announce the partnership is a great way to show industry followers (influencers and analysts), current customers (for up-sell or cross-sell purposes) and prospects the benefits of the partnership. Submitting articles to industry-related publications can also help increase your PR outreach and can help reach a wider audience.
- Build a joint case study. By identifying a joint customer willing to help, you can create a case study to highlight the success story and show precisely how using the solutions together brought true value to the end-customer. This type of storytelling in content marketing is a great way to bring the partnership benefits to life.
- Create a “how-to guide.” If integration is the cornerstone of your solution, it is important to document the steps required for implementation. This type of guide should help the techies to understand the benefits of the integration before they actually go through with the investment.
- Be a good partner. Being a good partner means that you take an active role in promoting the partnership. Participating in your partner-sponsored events (both physical and online) is one way to do that, and it will also help you to start networking with potential clients. Carrying out a telemarketing campaign to generate leads is another way to engage discussions with prospects to promote the benefits of the partnership. Because at the end of the day, the purpose of any partnership is to help both parties sell more product!
Partnering with the right companies can be a big boost to business if the match fits. It is important, however, to actively promote the partnership in order for it to grow. But the partnership itself cannot solely be used as a marketing tool; there must be inherent benefits to the relationship, or it will fall flat.