You may be wondering whether your venture is ready for expansion and acquiring partners. Or maybe you already have few of these and you want to know how to strengthen your business relationships. Or perhaps you are just at the very beginning of your solopreneur journey and are on the lookout for marketing methods that we are ways to ensure you’re off to a great start. You may be also leading a company that is already using our affiliate program and you want to take a leap into the Solution Partner path we offer.
No matter what your business objective is, we have put together a list of the advantages as well as disadvantages of partner marketing which will hopefully help you decide whether it is something you should get involved in.
What is partner marketing
Partner marketing is a promotion strategy where you look for other companies and brands that will help you grow your own business. If you are just starting out as a freelancer, it can lead to piggybacking on your new partner’s exposure and gaining new customers. If you are an experienced entrepreneur, it can increase the number sales for your venture and encourage you to see it from an eye-opening perspective. Regardless of your business experience, building strong partnerships is a great way to speed up your company’s growth and learn few things along the way.
According to the study conducted by Hinge Marketing, partnership marketing is correlated with high business growth. Companies which are experiencing the latter, are also 33% more likely to use partnerships for expanding their scope.
This marketing technique has proven to be effective for one of our current partners, Holiday Media. Holiday Media is an advertising agency that creates tourism business-specific marketing campaigns. They started off by reselling LiveChat licenses to the businesses they collaborated with, only to later venture into training area. Besides advertising services, they now offer workshops on how to employ modern technology (including our product) for marketing and customer experience needs. You can read more about their experience with LiveChat and their advertising practice on our blog.
What you should know before looking for a partnership
Great partnership opportunities are not that easy to spot at times. Depending on the type of partnership you are looking for, start with researching companies that you may work with. Have they been in partnerships before? Do they run their own partnerships programs? What you may want to avoid is searching for potential partners only in your immediate area or industry. This can cause you to hold off on the partnerships that may open up your business to new opportunities and audiences.
The benefits of partner marketing
Sharing customer bases and expanded exposure
Some of the benefits of leaping into the world of partnerships seem pretty obvious. One of these is the fact that once you will decide on partnering with another business, you are likely to bounce off of their recognizability and enjoy all perks of their exposure. That’s why at LiveChat we offer you a solution that is easily identifiable by your potential customers and have been used by over 23,000 companies worldwide.
New perspective on the directions of your business growth
New partnerships can help you reinvent your business and discover areas you have never considered working on. You can also try out new promotion strategies in a safe environment. You can also use your partner’s recognizability to penetrate markets and audiences you haven’t targeted before.
Gained reliability and trust
This one is quite simple: when you partner with a reliable brand you present your venture as a company that can be trusted. That may come as an extra advantage if you are looking to reach out more customers or expand your scope in the foreseeable future. When looking for a business partnership, look for testimonials. You may also consider reaching out to current partners of a company you’d like to target and ask about their experience.
Are you looking for ways to down-size the amount you spend on advertising and sales processes? Establishing business partnerships can work in your advantage here as solution partnership programs often offer marketing support to their partners. If you partner with an established brand, you don’t need to struggle with the lack of brand awareness when approaching potential customers. Both are the case with LiveChat’s Solution Partner Program. It is undoubtedly a recognizable venture and you’ll find all promotion assets that you may need at hand.
A spike in the number of sales
All of the above-mentioned factors combined can lead to one thing: an increase in the numbers of transactions you make and of clients you bring in. While it sounds great at first, more sales can quickly turn into a disadvantage, too (especially if you are not that business-savvy and just starting out), but I will touch upon that below. Take extra care when preparing for it.
One great advantage of joining a partner network is the fact that you are no longer on your own. Not sure how to run your advertising campaigns or where to check whom exactly are your reaching with these? Most solution partner program have documentation or help centers accessible at any time, so you make use of these for your most urgent questions. At LiveChat Solution Partner Program we also publish success stories from our partners on the blog in case if you need any guidance on how to put tools we offer at work.
Processes and assets that can be used at a later point
Even when your partnerships won’t be as effective as expected (which - in my opinion - is not very likely to happen), you always end up with processes and marketing assets that can be leveraged in your future campaigns. This can mean having a press pack ready or a specific marketing channel tried and tested.
This one is a no-brainer, too, especially if you are a one-person company looking for its first customers. In this case, joining a solution partner program can mean one thing: having a stable flow of income that can support your other business activities.
The disadvantages of partner marketing
Profit sharing can be discouraging when it comes to preparing for partnerships. Will you have to lose some of your earnings or which seems even worse, give all of these to the company you’ve partnered with?
With LiveChat’s Solution Partner Program, we make sure that both partners (meaning us and you) can benefit from the relationship. We give you a discount on our product, but hide the price when you offer it to your end clients. This way deciding on what to charge your end clients is up to you. We only provide a solution that you can market and all assets that you may need when launching a new campaign and/or building your marketing bundle.
A potential for disagreements
It can happen that you will decide that the direction you have taken with your business is not the right one for you. Or your business partner will get involved in initiatives you are not likely to support. Is that the sign that you should part your ways and end the relation here? Not exactly, especially when your approach all partnerships as ever-evolving processes that you need to reassess and negotiate over and over again. Keeping your perspective as lean as possible can help you prepare for potential discords ahead.
Too soon, too fast
One downside of partner marketing that can look very promising at first is the the opportunity to increase the number of leads. Marketing processes tend to be more flexible than transactional ones and this can result in the former going ahead of the latter. The consequences can be quite disastrous and can force you to drop off some of the leads in the pursuit of closing others. Sometimes it can also spiral into losing all of your potential customers, especially if you can’t keep up with the increased demand for your services and you are not able to respond on time.
What you can do to avoid this kind of situations? Make sure that both your marketing and sales teams are ready for the spike to come. Double-check if they have all (including emotional support and marketing assets) that they may need when dealing with new prospects.
You need to have sales skills in place
Pursuing partnerships can mean you have to feel comfortable when selling someone else’s product. You will need to learn how to market different solutions, employ sales techniques and strengthen your ability to efficiently present business strategies. On the other hand, would that be a useful skill set to have and something that you could put to work in other areas of your business even when your partnership ends?
Another risk when it comes to venturing into business partnerships is related to the fact that - in some cases - they may not be of great advantage if your primary focus is establishing your own brand. Partnering with an external company can lead to side-track on what you’d like to achieve. The most solid assets if you’d like to avoid this is a clear marketing strategy and a cutting-edge vision that can be used as effective tools when growing your own business.
Over to you
As you may be able to grasp by now, joining a solution partner program is something that will require much consideration and may encourage you to assess the progress of your own business along the way. It also has advantages that depending on the character of your venture, may be too alluring to hold down. I may be biased here, but I highly recommend our very own Solution Partner Program where you may just find all that you are looking for in a partnership.
What are the techniques that you use when building new partnerships? What obstacles and surprising gains have you encountered? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter - I’d love to discuss these in more detail!