Don't Pick Just Any B2B Partner Marketing Agency (Here's How to Choose the Right One)

This post was originally published on August 19, 2020, and was updated on September 18, 2023.
How to Choose a B2B Partner Marketing Agency

We all know partner marketing can help B2B organizations drive growth, boost revenue, and maintain a competitive edge. Teaming with channel partners, resellers, or organizations whose offerings complement your own can take you from good to great — reaching untapped audiences, building your credibility, and increasing the return on your marketing investments.

But online marketing partnerships are not a “set it and forget it” deal. Sure, automation has made it easier than ever to launch email, social, or even content marketing campaigns. But partner marketing requires a little more attention, some specialized skills, and a hefty dose of diplomacy.

In short, even though the common consensus is that partner marketing is valuable, positive results aren’t always a given.

of marketers agree partner marketing provides value
of the average marketing budget goes to partner marketing
say their partner marketing efforts have produced results in the last year

Common Partner Marketing Challenges

Nearly all — 88% — of marketers say partner marketing is valuable. But only a little over half say it’s produced results. What the heck is happening there?

Current data highlights a few key roadblocks that frequently hold partner marketing initiatives back:

But specialized partner marketing agencies — ready to tackle all the challenges this strategy brings — have sprung up to meet the needs of companies not ready to take it on themselves. A partner marketing agency can offer services ranging from developing and building sophisticated partner enablement programs to tracking ROI across multiple organizations to designing and executing partner marketing campaigns.

But how do you find the partner marketing agency that’s right for you?

What to Look for in a Partner Marketing Agency

What to Look for in a Partner Marketing Agency

Choosing the right digital agency isn’t easy. In fact, you may consider attempting to launch a partner marketing initiative yourself once you start looking for a partner marketing agency. There are a lot of options out there — and how can you be sure any of them will do better than you could do?

Take a deep breath. Selecting a partner marketing agency is no different from choosing any other third-party service provider or consultant your company will work with. And once you understand the challenges you’re most likely to face, it’s easier than you think to find an agency that can help you overcome them.

1. Do You (or Your Partners) Need More Resources?

Partner companies can be a major revenue driver for B2B organizations, but many partner marketers report their companies invest less in channel programs than in customer-facing campaigns, meaning they lack the resources needed to provide the support partners need.

Smaller partners often lack the staff and expertise to contribute to partner marketing campaigns and lean heavily on their vendors to develop and launch a strategy. Hiring a third-party partner marketing agency makes a ton of sense if you (or your partners) don’t have the resources to plan, develop, and launch a campaign. But not all agencies have the same skill sets — make sure the team you’re looking for can fill the gaps in your existing assets.

Do you have a brilliant idea for a campaign and not enough internal marketing resources to execute it? Or are you starting from square one with no idea what your partner marketing assets should look like? Be sure to check with your partners about what they can offer this initiative, and what they expect from it.

Once you’ve determined what you’re looking for in a partner marketing agency, check out portfolios and case studies to see if the firm you’re considering can meet your needs. Will they make your vision a reality? Can they build a campaign from the ground up?

2. Are You Able to Measure Your Success?

One of the biggest frustrations voiced by channel players is partnerships by handshake only, with no formal strategy for measuring success.

Tracking the ROI of a partner marketing campaign for a single partner isn’t that different from measuring the value of a single campaign for your own company. But tracking results across multiple partners — with distinct and often siloed CRMs — is a whole different ball game. It can be challenging to track pipeline attribution and sales back to the activities of a specific partner — but challenging and impossible are not the same thing.

You can measure the impact of your B2B partner marketing program against the goals of your strategy, including:

Progress toward many targets of a partner marketing campaign can be measured using the same tools you’d use on any other initiative — but tracking metrics across multiple partners and their specific systems can be challenging. A partner marketing agency with experience measuring the ROI of partner campaigns can help you track (and understand) your metrics — and adapt your efforts as needed.

Convey Your Combined Value

3. Do You Know How to Convey Your Combined Value?

Creating an effective co-branded or channel campaign isn’t just about finding partners whose audience you want to access. You need to select the right format, collaborate with partners on campaign strategies and goals — which will often conflict, and understand how your offering complements the products and services your partner provides — and vice versa.

Simply put: while the benefits of marketing can be multiplied with a partner campaign, so can the challenges. An experienced partner marketing agency can dig deep into the value proposition and market position of each partner involved in your campaign, get to know how it all meshes together, and craft a message that conveys that synergy.

4. How Strong Are Your Diplomatic Skills?

A lack of focus or alignment between partners generally means communication isn’t at its best. Maybe partner organizations have wildly differing goals or expectations — or perhaps there is overlap in their offerings (and they are collaborating while competing). The right agency will have experience managing complex relationships and understand the nuance involved and discretion required in a marketing partnership.

An external partner marketing agency can be the diplomatic power in your partnership, helping to find a way forward when communications have broken down. A team with experience in this type of campaign will have the chutzpah to make tough decisions with an unbiased perspective — because their sole focus is delivering high-quality content for a compelling campaign.

TPM: Your Partner Marketing Agency

TPM is a full-service marketing agency with years of experience helping tech businesses of all sizes design, build, and execute partner marketing campaigns. We’re here to support your partner enablement, channel partner, and co-branding efforts with everything from strategy to design, from implementation to analytics.

Want to know more about our approach to partner marketing? Reach out directly with your questions. We’d love to hear from you!

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