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Partner programs. Marketing co-branded content. They are named and titled any number of things and the direction for these can be very confusing. Let’s first break down what a partner program is.

A partner program is a program where you (e.g., manufacturer) produce and sell goods, anything enterprise software solutions to industrial chemicals, through an intermediary (partner), be it a distributor, wholesaler, reseller, and any number of other means.

What are the objectives of the partner program?

Of course, part of the objective for you as the manufacturer is to increase revenue by adding more accounts. In this context, a partner program provides benefits and incentives to select you and your product over others.

A successful partner program is most successful when:

  • Manufacturer clearly understand the needs of the distributor.
  • Distributor clearly understands the goals of the manufacturer.
  • Education of the distributor by the manufacturer through thoughtful and organized training.
  • It serves a specific business objective.

Marketing, specifically, co-branded marketing, is often a component of many partner programs. A manufacturer creates a library of social media assets for use by its partners that helps the partner promote its own business while helping promote the manufacturer. This results in a win-win for both parties as the partner now has social media content it didn’t need to create on its own and it can potentially repurpose and co-brand with its own logos, while promoting and disseminating the message of the manufacturer brand.

Understand that not every potential partner is a good partner, after all, they are going to be representing YOUR brand. Take your time, especially in the beginning, when rolling out a partner program, by having crystal clear parameters, objectives, and a fully thought-out partner program strategy. Co-branded marketing collateral will often not suffice as the only reason a partner wants to sign up; there needs to be compelling incentives, whether monetarily or through other similar mechanisms, that makes potential partners you identify excited to get started.

Discounts, credits? Tiered/scaled reward systems? Exclusive communication and education channels? Co-branded marketing assets? Conference or expo benefits and opportunities? The options are limitless.

Most importantly, again, think it through. Start with a pilot program. Test it, refine it, try again, and keep going. You may just be surprised at how effective it could be.