Partnering with tech can be an amazing growth and stability factor for digital agencies. Here are some strategies we've learned from top agencies and SaaS you can deploy to grow revenue.
First, before you begin to engage in GTM strategy with tech partners, your agency must first say "Yes" to these q's:
- Your operations - are they streamlined?
- Can your team sell services well?
- Do you have repeat sales on retainers?
- Do you have thought leadership and/or subject matter expertise in your vertical?
What do we mean by "Partnerships"?
- Built on alignment, reciprocity, and support.
- Does not (and often should not) have transactional requirements like paying for certification or your first account.
- You would grab a beer with them if you were in the same city.
Here are the main ways your agency can add and grow revenue streams using tech partnerships:
1. Optimizing and productize around the supportive partners' tech.
- Consider which services can be packaged and priced..
- Create landing pages and articles on your site, then guest posts on your partners' sites to gain organic and referral traffic.
- Show the higher retention of your clients over their average user to receive lead-flow from their sales team.
Example: A very large (100+ employees) ABM agency we work with was very much software-agnostic for much of their growth, but learned they should not plan to grow by hiring more staff with each new enterprise client, and instead are now formalize their services around key partnerships so they can rely on those partners for marketing, co-selling and the support their clients need in order to maintain profits.
2. Deepen with full-funnel services.
- That same agency can add services on either side of those campaigns to increase the average retainer value.
- Learning to offer services on social, on the site, or afterwards in the dataset.
- Adding more to the setup and support of those retainers would be difficult without partnerships.
Example: Consider the typical PPC agency - they do not have their clients ears for design, but it's in their purview and clients' best interest to increase conversions.
So why not offer to set up a comprehensive voice and chat system, even manage it, to ensure no traffic is wasted? You can do this using products like Smith.ai who will even allow your agency to white label their tech.
3. Widening services to capture more of each clients' spend.
- Offer more services relevant to the client at that moment in their business lifecycle or moment of change.
- Referrals for certain software, but implementation or management support of other software.
- Widening your offering to clients does not mean you 'need' to become the expert.
Example: A perfect example of this is in web/app development - why stop at developing the site when your client is going to need that site to have:
On-page and sitemap SEO, ADA / GDPR compliance, Chat, Forms automation, CRM integration, IP analysis...
4. partnering simply to gain leads and referrals.
- Leads can be the reason you stick with a dated technology or onboard into tech you otherwise wouldn't have.
- You can work harder to increase lead flow by making sure you are keeping their team up to date with your case studies and service expertise.
- Discussing the lead-flow opportunities with partners during your vetting process is recommended.
Example: We're working with 3 agencies now to create marketing courses for their clients, prospects, and even other agencies. We strategically work with 3-5 tech vendors on half of the curriculum so we know they will send their users. The agency charges for this course, and sell services to the students, so it's a lead and revenue-generator.
**If Partnerships with tech, co-marketing, co-selling… as a strategy has not been something your team has had time for, or maybe it’s not something you’ve been able to gain value from. Please book a call with us to discuss our managed service where we:
- Vet tech for product alignment, viability and partnership value.
- Bring only relevant attractive partner offers to monthly meetings.
- Project manage the selected partnerships.
- Be the PM to ensure the partnership doesn’t flatline.
- Load the partner tracks into a kanban we create and co-manage.
- Lobby partners to bring consistent co-marketing opportunities.
- Ideate the opportunities, get sign-off, and pitch them to partners.
- Set up and help facilitate co-selling with select partners.
- Being the buffer for cold outreach from new partners.
- Build the value in the role so much that you can make the case to hire full time.
Learn more about our managed service for agencies >>>
5 strategies to get more from tech partnerships
One - Begin all your partnerships discussions with a Memorandum
Partnerships can fail to generate anything for either party simply because expectations weren’t set and a plan was never created.
- List out why you align - persona’s, markets, geo.
- Where are you going to promote one another? When?
- What’s the end goal of the partnership? And what is that going to take?
Here’s the template >
Two - Start with a co-marketing campaign to build synergy and create an audience
Too many partnerships are started with the ask of “What can you do for me?” When a true partnership should start with the question of “What can we do for each other?”
- Guest posts
- Expert interviews
Three - Prior to any larger co-marketing campaigns, map accounts
Account mapping is the first step to co-selling. It’s where you both load your customers and prospects (or sync CRM) to a secure third party software like Sharework to see if there is overlap, and view the size of the audiences on both sides (potential exposure).
Both parties have the view of the overlap and watch that as you run your co-marketing of the content to each others’ audiences. Success can be determined by the value of the new leads that came from the partner, and tracked using this software/process.
Four - Set alerts in Sales Navigator when your tech partner hires a new CS or salesperson
CS are often those who refer to agency partners the most, followed by Salespeople. They can only support the user/prospect so much. The rest comes from service providers they know do great work with their solution.
1. Save the accounts (partner company names)
2. Set an alert for new hires under the title of CS / sales / BD and/or Partnerships.
3. Send that person a link to your agency profile document (links, services, client persona, goals…)
Here’s an article on setting these alerts >>
Five - Create a course that includes multiple tech partners
Courses can be great lead-gen for agencies. Further, they can be enormous for technology who simply can’t teach their users what to do after the tool is setup up (that’s your job). Aligning with a few tech partners on a curriculum that would increase retention for their solution, as well as bring you both new prospects, is a great way to partner.
- Write up the general outline.
- Pick out a few classes that can mention and even show how to use a certain solution.
- Reach out to the partner teams at those tools as ask what they can do to support your agency in the creation of the course + marketing it (sponsorship, designing assets, linking to it…)
- When you have aligned, launch the course.
Now, before you go the partnership route over the pure user route:
- Align on overlapping target audience, and how the solution will be incorporated into services you sell.
- Then, List out Tasks for both parties.
- Finally, document everyone's commitments to this "partnership" prior to executing on those tasks.
- Check out some vetted partnerships: https://partnerprograms.io/top-software-partnerships-for-agencies/
- Consider working with us: https://www.partnerprograms.io/partner-management-for-agencies
- Join the Agency-Partners Collective: https://community.partnerprograms.io/feed
- Email me with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Setting up a joint venture-style partnership >>
Account mapping - a co-selling routine review >>