Don’t Go It Alone: The Importance of Partnerships in Building Today’s Businesses 

By Patrick Chancelier, Strategic Account Executive for EMEA at impact.com

As the saying goes, “everything old is new again”, and when it comes to partnerships in B2B, this rings true. While it’s boom time for business-to-business (B2B) marketing, it’s also getting more complex and competitive. Companies need to find new ways to cut through the noise, stand out, and grow their businesses – and that ‘new’ way is through brand partnership management which can help companies deliver on these three fronts. So what’s driving this resurgence of interest, and what’s needed to deliver success? 

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Advertising is undermining trust

While partnerships have always been important, programmatically-driven, algorithm-led advertising has become the dominant promotional channel today. But this rise in programmatic is leading to an erosion in trust. Privacy changes, a lack of creativity, rising prices and declining effectiveness are undermining trust and confidence in this increasingly saturated channel. Trust has always been critical for business – it builds rapport, relationships, and, most importantly, long-term sales success. While having strong brand recognition in B2B does count, it means little if the company is not seen as trustworthy. 

The renaissance of partnerships 

The result is that companies are reassessing their marketing approach. They’re realising that having a partner ecosystem is crucial to build in-market trust and traction and help differentiate their offering. While partnerships are nothing new, they address two key areas today by providing a viable option to a digital advertising environment in crisis and offering an approach that drives revenue growth. And why is this the case? Well, it’s because partnerships are based on authenticity and advocacy – the foundation of all relationships, whether business or personal.  

The nature of partnerships is also changing. Previously, thinking ‘business partnerships’ meant thinking ‘reseller’ or ‘affiliate’. But today, it no longer comes down to one or two traditional types. Now there are a wealth of emerging options that are ushering in a new era of partnerships, including 

    • Communities and industry groups – local chambers of commerce, for example 
    • Commerce content – editorialised content produced by a publisher to educate an audience, such as buyer guides, product comparisons and how-to guides
  • Ambassadors, opinion leaders, and subject matter experts – including industry thought leaders, influencers and respected consultants 
    • Educators partners that create educational content, including courses and tutorials, around product or service usage
    • Strategic brand-to-brand alliances non-competing partnerships with trusted brands that offer greater market reach opportunities into a specific sector or vertical
  • Native integrations – combining complementary offerings to develop holistic solutions that solve a broader range of customer challenges than a company can offer on its own. 

Increasingly we are seeing more companies adopt brand-to-brand partnerships and establish successful alliances. For example, Canva’s partnership with Hubspot allows users to create email templates and other creative assets directly in the CRM platform. Meanwhile, crowdfunding platform Indiegogo’s partnership with shipping platform Easyship means entrepreneurs launching new products can easily ship them to customers globally.

By expanding their approach and forging relationships that include these new partnership opportunities, companies can increase market penetration, expand business opportunities, and maintain a competitive advantage.

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Effective partnership management – the key to success

While all this looks attractive, engaging with more and more partners means more challenges. How do companies find and recruit these new types of partners to support their business objectives? And when they do, how do they onboard them, train them, incentivise them, track their performance, and support them all going forward? 

These complexities make traditional low-tech manual approaches to partnership engagements impossible. Today, successfully managing, building, and scaling a complex revenue-generating partnership programme in this new environment requires automation.

A modern partnership management platform must allow you quickly to launch a programme and streamline partnership workflows across all partnership types. Finding and recruiting partners globally, setting up and managing contracts and payments (while supporting multiple currencies), onboarding and turning them into productive, revenue-generating participants while maintaining communication to keep them engaged and active are critical success elements of an effective platform.

Technology is streamlining processes, automating day to day tasks, and removing the burden of managing partnerships. This is allowing businesses to tap into a more extensive, diverse range of partners – partner types they may never have previously considered – as well as expand into new markets and territories quickly and effectively. The global nature of a partnership management platform also means businesses themselves can become global operations.  

The World Trade Organization estimates that 75% of the world’s commerce is driven through partnerships in some form. For business, now is the time to think again and reappraise the role of modern partnerships. By leveraging the full potential of partnerships, they can rebuild trust, grow, and thrive. And by harnessing new technologies, companies – small, midsize, or large – can reap these benefits quickly and easily. 

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