- Larry Gregory
Activate Managed Partners
Let’s continue with Managed Partners, discussing the Activate stage of the 4 Stages of Partner Development. At this point your partners have taken steps to learn about your product capabilities. Your goal is to encourage meaningful development activity for purposes of generating marketing evidence. If you invest in demand generation activities around your product launch and educate partners on those marketing opportunities, it will incent partners to align with your timing and generate greater market buzz.
If you’ve done a good job with joint business planning in the Advise stage and the enrollment & support system during the Acclimate stage, you’ll be in position to have representative partner solutions across your key markets (verticals or key customer segments). Tier your marketing support to match the impact (ROI) you will realize through different partners. Following are example marketing outcomes:
Customer Events are the shortest path to revenue growth and will have the greatest appeal to partners. For example, you can draw customer executives with a high-profile analyst firm and represent your best partners as examples. This is an expensive approach, but worthwhile if you execute the event to sales outcome rigorously (e.g., capture attendee interests via feedback forms and salesperson engagement, manage sales progression, measure the ROI, and adjust next time).
Industry Events provide indirect customer influence and help grow mindshare among partners and press. You should invest more heavily (joint development or marketing funds) in a subset of managed partners to serve as showcase references for high profile events.
Developer Events help influence the ecosystem and grow advocates/fans. Developers are receptive to lower budget media. Consider documenting the backstage development experience via blog or video to help developers understand how to implement key capabilities more quickly.
Partner Led Events are most important for scale. You can provide joint marketing templates (e.g., customizable product literature, campaign management tools, social media templates) to enable more partners to go to market, carrying your message.
I’ve seen organizations that excel at technical enablement and readiness, but inconsistently translate that to marketing evidence. I’ve also seen that an entirely separate partner system tends to take on its own life and be driven more by program enrollment measures than market impact. A balanced view and collaborative leadership is required to ensure a results-oriented, partner-friendly solution is delivered.
Next up, we’ll address the go to market (Accelerate) stage of partner development.