Like many B2B marketing agencies, even though we’re a professional services business and don’t sell or re-sell technology, our firm gets marketed to regularly by companies looking to recruit us as a channel partner.
Most of these pitches inevitably revolve around the functionality of the product or solution in question and the benefits to be gained by our clients. Precious few speak to our own, selfish motivations: adding value to the agency-client relationship, expanding our service portfolio, and yes, driving revenue for the agency.
This experience underlines one of the common failings of partner recruitment campaigns: they market the solution and not the partner program. They extoll the potential benefits to the end client on the assumption that what’s good for the end user is good for the partner.
As an agency owner, I want our clients to be successful and drive better marketing results. If our clients succeed, we succeed. But as a prospective partner, my priority is our business.
The second common mistake made in many partner recruitment campaigns is a blindness to the recruitment sales cycle, a path that mirrors in many respects the buyer journey for end users. Many recruitment campaigns ask the prospective partner to do one of two things as a first step:
1. Engage with a sales rep, or
2. Apply for the program immediately.
And yet, in most cases, becoming a partner is as much a considered decision as buying technology, and includes the same steps:
* awareness: awareness of a brand, a solution, a problem worth solving, or an opportunity worth taking
* consideration: why partnering with your company is a good business decision, and finally
* selection: why your company, and why now
Asking a partner to apply immediately as a very first step in response to an email or a digital ad is a huge leap that ignores the buyer journey inherent in any decision to enter into a business partnership.
One significant driver for why so many partner recruitment campaigns default to a “sign up now” approach is a lack of partner-related content. Companies tend to be awash in content designed for end users, but are woefully short on content that speaks to partners’ needs, pain points, and priorities, or that focuses on the partner program and not the end product.
In a recent campaign for an ecommerce client, we created a short “how to get started” ebook that addressed the most common questions a prospective reseller might have, reinforced the value of becoming a partner, and made it easier for interested parties to raise their hand. Those who did were then entered into an email sequence that further reinforced the benefits of the program and encouraged the individual to sign up. Over the course of the campaign, this two-step approach generated more than 800 new resellers for the client.
In sum, a successful partner recruitment campaign adheres to two basic principles:
* recognizes the buyer journey by not requiring prospective partners to sign up or “speak to a rep” immediately, but instead first generates awareness (as needed), and offers a simple, low-commitment way to express interest or request information, followed by carefully orchestrated sales and marketing touches designed to encourage a next step.
* leverages content that is not just painted-over product collateral, but instead is information specifically crafted to speak to a prospective partner’s needs, pain points, and motivators. Consider a “partner information guide,” short videos featuring existing partners, or a Webinar that walks through the program and how to apply.