Just as a SaaS business can’t be built overnight, founders can’t always do everything completely on their own. Sooner or later, you will need a partner in making your brilliant ideas a reality and of course, in achieving stable sales and revenue growth.
Some types of strategic partnerships have been widely used over the past decade, such as co-marketing and affiliate marketing. But today we’ll focus on the former and how this type of partnership is powerful enough to take brands to great heights.
Choosing the Right Co-Marketing Partners
More often than not, you will need help in boosting brand awareness, widening your consumer base, and developing your product so that it perfectly suits your market’s needs. Co-marketing enables businesses to attain these objectives and more; additional value is shared between partners as they pursue common goals.
Executing a marketing campaign is already challenging in itself, more so if your chosen partner’s objectives aren’t aligned with yours. Here’s what to keep in mind when choosing the right co-marketing partner:
1. Partner with companies that have a similar target audience as yours.
Remember, the right partner will lead you to the right customers. Your audiences must strongly align with your chosen partner’s — from their industries, interests, pain points, and ways of solving problems. Focus more on your smaller market segments, and find a partner who targets that same demographic within their market.
2. Eliminate possible conflict of interest.
Having an identical target audience doesn’t necessarily mean that you and your chosen partner must be in the same industry. Things are bound to get complicated when for example, you’re both offering the exact same SaaS product — at the end of the day, customers are only buying either yours or your partner company’s. That’s only good news for one of you.
You can combine efforts without competing. Your partner can have a different business or product model and still be able to complement yours.
3. Manage expectations and make room for feedback.
A collaboration simply won’t work if there is a lack of understanding of roles and responsibilities on both sides. Resources should be equally distributed to both organizations across all projects, and map out a realistic timeline all teams can follow.
Efforts must benefit both parties in a similar way. Getting a high conversion rate while your partner merely gets 50 leads from the same initiative might mean that both companies should revisit your arrangements.
That said, your co-marketing campaign should regularly be assessed, reviewed, and adjusted depending on the KPIs you’ve set. Periodically bring together key stakeholders to discuss where the campaign is currently at and the results yielded so far. Open the floor for suggestions and give everyone an equal opportunity to voice their concerns.
Co-Marketing Content Types
As with any other campaign, relevant and quality content is crucial for getting your brand messaging across. Creating content is also an opportunity for partner companies to evenly divide the work, share expertise, and further understand the dynamics required to communicate their brand identity. Here are a few co-marketing content types:
- Blog Posts — Guest posts for each company’s blog/website
- Ebook — A good example is this ebook that HubSpot published in partnership with LinkedIn Sales Solutions
- Email — For reaching large groups of people at once; for communicating your recent brand tie-up or upcoming projects with your partner
- Webinars — Co-hosting webinars on various areas of expertise; Take for instance Ascent Conference’s collaboration with Avalara for a SaaS tax compliance webinar last July
- Social Media Campaigns — Tactics like a social media takeover where a brand will post on its partner’s social media accounts for a set amount of time
- Events — Whether online or offline, monthly events are proven effective in engaging with prospects and existing clients whilst putting partnering brands in the spotlight
How Partnerships Grow with Your Company
Whether it’s co-marketing or some other arrangement, strategic partnerships will affect your company differently depending on the growth stage it’s in. This is due to inevitable changes in equity and revisions of agreements with your partner.
- Startup — As a new player in the space, your chances of closing a reselling/co-selling deal are still quite low. Co-marketing is actually most beneficial to startups, as it can help founders team up with other companies while raising brand awareness. An example of this is Spotify and Uber’s partnership in 2014, where the highly personalized experience they gave riders resulted in sky-high engagement for both platforms.
- Scaleup — Now that you’ve made it past the very early stages, your business is bound to take on more opportunities for growth. It may now be the best time to engage in partner programs to help you scale faster, like in the case of HubSpot. They reached out to larger companies with solutions that complement theirs and a similar customer base, eventually emerging as a multi-million-dollar company at present.
- Enterprise — Even if you’ve already become an established company and are offered reselling/co-selling deals, don’t let go of your co-marketing efforts just yet. Partnerships must continuously be built over time if you want your brand to sustain its growth.
Forging strong partnerships is essential regardless of the size and stage your company is in. However, this doesn’t mean that you should remain with only one partner for as long as your business exists — look for the right partners that will help you execute the right campaigns, for the right audiences, for the best possible value.
Photo by Muhammad Faiz Zulkeflee on Unsplash