As the potential for a recession increases, most B2B marketers are fighting for their budgets. Who wants to spend money on big, splashy campaigns when their company—and their customers—might be bracing for a down-turn?
If you’re looking for ways to navigate economic uncertainty, partner marketing is a worthwhile solution. Partnering up with a complementary brand is a low-cost way to expand your reach to new audiences, identify new prospects, and improve overall awareness of your brand.
Truly aligned partnerships also allow you to meet potential customers where they are, minimizing the risk of your future campaigns.
What is Partner Marketing?
In the B2B arena, partner marketing or co-marketing, requires establishing long-term relationships with like-minded brands that complement your business.
This means working together on mutually beneficial campaigns, events, or offerings to expand your reach and attract new prospects. Remember: you’re not hitching your wagon to a direct competitor. Instead, you’re working with a peer brand that is complementary to your product offering and has audience or customer overlap.
For example, Slack, a communication tool, regularly partners with a number of other services used in virtual and remote work. These services include Asana, which allows customers to assign and track tasks for their employees. Using an Asana integration in Slack helps customers of both services use each product more efficiently.
While the Slack-Asana integration is a sophisticated example, any two brands can partner up to market their services more effectively. But partner marketing requires brand alignment—and a lot of work. Ultimately, it’s a long-term solution that takes time and effort to maintain, not a quick tactic to rush into.
Why B2B Partner Marketing Is Crucial in 2023
According to Forrester’s B2B marketing predictions, 2023 is gearing up to be a customer-focused year.
Gone are the times for the impersonal approaches of channel marketing. In fact, as many as 40% of B2B brands are predicted to ditch channel marketing for marketing partnerships in 2023. Partner marketing helps B2B companies “align to buyer needs and preferences,” all while they focus on increasing their access to clients.
Strategic marketing partnerships will also become increasingly important as competition for digital space increases. According to Forbes, B2B spending on digital advertising is predicted to hit $15 billion next year.
Thanks to increased spending, B2B awareness campaigns will scrap for time, space, and attention on their digital channels. But partnering up with a like-minded brand means you’ll have a greater chance of breaking through the noise.
7 Strategies for B2B Partner Marketing
Ready to get started on your own partner marketing strategy? Here are 7 tactics you can take to your B2B partner.
1. Develop shared content
Whether you guest post on another’s blogs or develop gated content together, sharing thought leadership is a great way to build brand awareness with one another’s audiences.
Here’s how to come up with topics that both of your audiences will be interested in:
- What shared problems, pain points, or concerns do your customers have?
- Which industry best practices do your brands align on?
- Do you have any tips and tricks that could illuminate a niche problem area for your partner, or vice versa?
If your blog content performs well across both sites, this could be a sign to dig in. Consider investing in longer form content designed to generate leads, like:
- White papers
- Industry studies or research
- Product comparisons
Since these efforts require more time, energy, and money to produce, partnering with another brand can be a good way to share costs—and get the final product in front of a wider audience.
2. Collaborate on social media
Cross-promoting campaigns, give-aways, or other co-developed social content will boost engagement and awareness across both brands. Don’t forget to:
- Create graphics with co-branding
- Develop a shared campaign hashtag
- Interact with one another’s posts by liking, commenting, and sharing to your own channels
- Track and share both traffic and lead generation data with your partner
Starting out small on social media can also be a great way to determine whether a potential partner’s audience is a great fit for your brand. If it’s a hit on LinkedIn, it might be time for your B2B marketing partnership to take the next step.
3. Hold an event together
Want to boost engagement and awareness across both audiences? Hold a virtual event, like a webinar, together.
Webinars still drive a huge number of B2B leads. According to DemandGen, 53% of B2B marketers think that webinars generate the highest-quality leads. But webinars can be expensive and time-consuming to produce, which might be more challenging to justify in 2023.
Thankfully, webinar platforms like Welcome make it easy to co-produce high-quality, lead-generating events, so you and your partners collect all the data you need to close sales and drive pipeline.
4. Use affiliate links
Affiliate links, in which you and your partner agree to link to one another’s websites, products, or services, are a low-budget, low-commitment way to test drive your marketing partnership.
Because you can customize links using UTM tracking codes, this is also a great way to measure the success of a marketing partnership. How much traffic, including leads and sales, is your partner driving?
If your KPIs are strong, it could be a sign to deepen the partnership and move onto something more complex, like developing content or holding an event together.
5. Start a referral program
Establishing customer trust is arguably even more important in B2B marketing than in B2C models. B2B buyers are often making major purchasing decisions for an entire organization, and the risk-to-reward ratio is high.
Because trust with B2B customers is hard-won, a referral program can work wonders in a B2B marketing partnership. When you partner with another business to share referrals, you’re more likely to bring in high-quality leads at a lower cost.
6. Share leads
Lead sharing goes one step beyond a B2B referral program. Rather than simply referring current customers to one another’s businesses, both you and your partner work to qualify and share leads that come from your co-marketing activities.
For example, if you hold a webinar that you’ve co-marketed to both of your audiences, you’ll need a plan for sharing leads generated by the event. You’ll also need a detailed plan for your follow-up communications. In order not to overwhelm contacts with emails, work with your partner to sequentially manage outreach to your shared leads.
Remember: sharing leads requires a lot of trust, great communication between your sales and marketing teams, and a very closely aligned partner. Planned with intention, this tactic can be a great way to grow your B2B customer base.
7. Offer product discounts or bundles to shared customers
If your partner marketing efforts are going well and your businesses are aligned, you may find that both you and your B2B partner have an overlapping customer base. Better yet, you may have a large potential overlapping customer base.
Why not partner up to offer a product discount or bundle for your shared customers? If your businesses are complementary, this could be a great opportunity to win new B2B customers.
B2B marketers work hard to earn the trust of their customers. In an uncertain time, trust helps build better business relationships—with customers and B2B brands alike.
Partner up with a closely aligned B2B organization to share marketing costs, reduce risks, and generate more qualified leads with an engaged audience. Using Welcome, you can design and co-host engaging webinars with your B2B marketing partner, share leads and engagement data, and close sales that benefit you both.
Schedule a demo with Welcome today to learn more about our easy-to-use webinar platform for generating high-quality leads that will fuel your partnership strategy in 2023.