Cooperation is king
There's no doubt that the partnership ecosystem is changing the way companies go-to-market. In fact, it's really no longer a question of whether or not your company should partner with others, but rather how you do so effectively.
If you've been hesitant or have put off partnering with other companies because of concerns about time, cost efficiency, or quality control—or if you just don't think it will work for your business—then this article is for you!
Embrace the ecosystem
The first way to go-to-market is to build it all.
This approach involves doing the work yourself and controlling the end-to-end customer experience, from product development through distribution and support.
Some businesses prefer one approach over another because of their size, resources, or market position (among other factors). For example:
- A small business might not want or be able to invest in building a sales force across multiple channels at scale. In this case, it makes sense for them to sell their product through an online marketplace that provides access to millions of customers worldwide while they handle fulfillment themselves.
- A large enterprise may choose not to build out its own IT department because it already has one established—and perhaps even one that's too big already! In these cases, partnering with software companies like Microsoft can help organizations keep costs down by leveraging existing resources rather than duplicating them internally.
Align your strategy
When you're looking at partnerships, make sure you have a clear understanding of what your company needs and wants.
- Do you need help with customer acquisition?
- How much help do you need?
- Do you want to be seen as an expert in your industry, or do you want to get validation for new products or services from customers or influencers in other fields?
- What are the specific outcomes that will generate value for both parties involved (i.e., sales leads), as well as general marketing goals (i.e., brand awareness)?
Then, once these goals are defined, communicate them clearly with potential partners, so they know what's expected from working together. The clearer this expectation is communicated early on, the more likely it is that everyone will be happy when all is said and done.
We recommend defining these expectations before making any moves toward forming a partnership—particularly if it’s your first time doing so!
When you create a culture that values collaboration over competition, it's easier for partners to do business with you because they know there will be no surprises or hidden agendas. This makes it easier for companies to work together on projects in a way that benefits all parties involved, which ultimately leads to better results for customers.
It forces us to take a step back from all that we know, break down those walls and understand why they exist in the first place.
Partnering requires us to be open-minded and flexible; it means being willing to try something different or take advice from someone outside your industry or organization—someone who might even have previously been an adversary! Partnering means being honest with yourself about what you can do better as well as who else can help you get there (or at least point you in the right direction).
Learn to grow
Partner with people who are better than you. It's okay, really. You're going to learn and grow together, so don't stress about it. By partnering with someone who is more experienced or has more resources at their disposal, you'll have better options for customers and a higher level of quality control.
Give them choices
Your customers want to be able to choose their own path. They expect you to offer them choices, partners provide that.
Your customers want multiple service providers and technology options from which they can choose. Partners help deliver those options in a cost-effective way for you and your business.
A partner ecosystem is critical because it increases the value of your offering while making it easier for customers to access the services they need without having to switch vendors or take on more than they can handle on their own (or worse, get nothing at all).
Nurture your ecosystem
In a world of constant change, it's important to have a strong partner ecosystem. Partners can help you reach new customers, new markets, and new geographies. They can also help you reach verticals that might not be relevant to your own business.
Think about your own life: most people have a network of friends who are more likely than not to be in the same industry as them but not necessarily directly competing with each other. For example, my friend runs an accounting firm while I run a marketing agency, so we're both business owners but don't compete with each other directly (and are actually quite complementary).
When you look at this from the customer's perspective, they may see themselves as part of larger networks rather than individual brands or companies—and these networks will look very different depending on their interests and motivations.
By partnering, you will be able to offer your customers a greater range of products and services, and they will have the added benefit of being able to purchase from multiple channels. You can also provide them with more flexible payment options and make it easier for them to buy directly from you, rather than having to go through a third party.
The customer wants to be served in the way that they're used to being served. They're used to getting everything from one source, but there are other ways of doing it. The key is to stay relevant and keep up with the pace of change.