Why Settle? Drive Relentlessly Innovative Marketing with Strategic Alliances

Joseph George

VP, Global Alliances, Industry & Product Marketing, HPE

This blog is a part of a series highlighting the perspectives of partner marketing executives across the globe. You’ll hear our guest writers’ experiences facing challenges in the partner ecosystem and their insights from their years of experience.

Dramatic performances used to be nowhere but on a stage in front of a live audience. Then, advancement led to technology so audiences could experience entertainment through movies and movie theaters. Over time, movies were accessible in the comfort of your home, through home video. Video stores arrived and viewers could rent new and hard-to-find movies. Today, it’s available at our fingertips, delivered to the device of our choosing.

The user experience went from exclusively in-person performances to a myriad of options.

Many of us live this every day. The internet, online shopping, mobile technologies and public/private/hybrid cloud computing have changed the world. Artificial intelligence, blockchain and edge technologies appear to be the next foundations for innovation.

That’s innovation: taking a capability, not settling for what it is, but being purposeful about what it could be. It fuels progress. It pushes our boundaries and improves our experience. With all this innovation around us, why are we in strategic alliance marketing so quick to revert to standard marketing approaches for new and innovative alliances?

Business is changing, technology is changing, customers are changing – it’s time for strategic alliance marketing to adapt.

Why settle?

If you’re not innovating in how you market with your strategic alliances, you’re only seeing a fraction of the benefits and return your marketing efforts could yield. Settling for status quo in alliance marketing is, more-often-than-not, settling for mediocrity in business returns.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in this situation: A new strategic alliance has been negotiated. Engineers engage each other, sellers get connected in field – there’s excitement in the air! Marketing plans are created and executives are briefed … all capped off by an amazing launch!

And yet, results are flat, which is followed by email after email and meeting after meeting to discuss where the problem areas are and how to adjust.

Being fully aware that numerous factors drive the success of a new alliance, let’s turn our attention to the marketing part of the equation. If an idea is revolutionary to the market, doesn’t it stand to reason that markets will move with new approaches to marketing?

Develop your strategy, build your plan

When it comes to success in strategic alliances, there are some important basics – the first of which is to build to a structure, similar in some ways to roadmap or revenue plan.

  1. Before defining the win-win, understand the “win” for each company.
  2. Define the win-wins – there are often more than one.
  3. Get specific on metrics – pick only a few that can be measured and are most impactful.
  4. Develop an agreed-upon business, sales and marketing strategy.
  5. Document and socialize that plan – yes, this part is important.
  6. Draw up the associated tactical plan – then get executing!
  7. Expect to get some things wrong, so review metrics often – and don’t fear the pivot.

Collaboration between strategic alliances is key at this stage. Agreeing on metrics, abiding by a strategy and consenting to pivots are critical to achieving the results that you agreed upon.

Leverage the strengths each party brings

Now that you have a plan defined, documented and agreed upon, it’s important to understand a key tenet: Innovating in any partner marketing means partnering to innovate in marketing.

Tangible strategic alliance impact comes through: 1) the power of your combined strengths and 2) the additive power of your individual strengths.

Think of a pianist playing a piece on the piano. With one hand, they play a moving melody on the high notes and with the other, they play an inspiring rhythm on the low notes. Separately, what each hand is playing could stand on its own – but when played together the song is elevated to a masterpiece.

When executing your joint strategic alliance marketing plan, plan for co-marketing, but make room for each alliance partner to bring their strengths to the plan, as an active participant. Each alliance partner has a portion of the plan – leveraging their marketing superpowers, communicating to their market and speaking in their voice.

Thus, together you are reinforcing your value to both markets, while reaching new markets.

Focus: Execute, measure and adjust!

This is one of the most taxing, yet critical parts of enacting a strategic alliance marketing plan. It entails ongoing observation, data tracking, fine tuning and pivoting as needed. This means day-to-day practitioners are regularly communicating outcomes to the working teams. It means leaders are conferring on what results mean and quickly taking steps to drive results.

Fortunately, technology is our friend here. Web data, digital marketing information and win/loss stats can fuel your marketing plan evolution. Embracing data that tells you your hypothesis was off the mark is a tremendous outcome – you’ve heard from your market, so you adjust. Make data driven decisions and then take fast action.

So, what’s next?

Here’s what’s next: start now. Look at what’s in front of you and develop a structured plan, leverage strengths from both partners and plan to “execute, measure and adjust.” You may be surprised at the results.

To hear Joseph speak at the Partner Marketing Visionaries Summit on March 29-30, 2023, register now.

partner marketing, partner marketing ecosystems

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