Flashback to December 1995 – Marketing Partners: Keys to the Universe
Successful partnership can make you a market leader. Every challenge is unique, but there is a pattern to finding good partners.
A Real Situation
Simware Marketing Vice President Chris Fedorko already knew his target market well, but wanted to get leverage through partners.
Even though Simware has an established direct sales team, his new product, the REXXWARE Migration Toolkit, was in a very focused market sector – Novell NetWare users migrating to the latest version of NetWare. The prospects would be found only among the NetWare community, among buyers planning a transition. Novell was very happy to help with joint marketing activities, because Simware’s product would help clients grow with Novell.
Simware’s business development team was also working with NetFRAME. Their hardware, often bought at the time of a consolidation of servers, was usually associated with an upgrade in NetWare software. Simware’s product would make the Superserver solution easier to buy.
According to Fedorko, “NetFRAME had already gone through the pain of building a VAR Channel. We knew our time-to-market would be much faster with them than on our own.” The NetFRAME VAR partners had the resources to provide consulting associated with a project, something that Simware knew would be needed by the typical upgrade client. Through NetFRAME, they also included Cheyenne Software tools in the marketing plan.
The partners organized a roadshow, with invitations and registration handled by Novell, using their client lists as well as contact lists of third parties operating in each local area.
Seminars were set up with clients at the morning session, and VARS and Integrators in the afternoon. It worked well. Knowing that third parties were so critical to completing a sale, speakers in the afternoon referred to local lead lists which had been built during the morning session. Each partner presenting at the seminar knew that there was a nice blend of their own strengths and those of the other partners.
The jointly designed promotion plan worked well; it was a solid win-win scenario.
The Lesson – Partners
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus! It is called a “Generic Marketing Strategy Method.”
For finding partners, these are the things you need to do:
1. Look for ideas among real end users
- companion or competitive products they use now
- third parties they deal with now (resellers, VARS, System Integrators, retailers)
- which third parties they respect
- what has been missing in previous solutions?
- how would users like to buy?
2. Forming partnerships – talk to potential partners
- what do they need, both in products and business arrangements?
- would they benefit by some of your key strengths? Your strengths for this discussion should be unique, and related to partner needs, not those of the end users; they could include product features, expertise, and/or your existing client base and market momentum
- show them the “buy vs. build” benefits of partnership
- keep looking for good partners
3. Avoid a copycat of someone else’s success formula for partnerships
4. Be ready to modify the product, you will have to align:
- “product” features, which may include technology, packaging, and/or support,
- sales channel
- pricing model
- how users want to buy
Start researching today! At the end, you will have closed the loop on your earlier research, forming partnerships which make your product easier to buy.
This article by Peter Fillmore, was originally published in MARKETECH in December 1995.