The Allbound Podcast: How to Build an Agency Partner Program; Add Some Video

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Dee Dee de Kenessey, Agency Partner Program Manager at Wistia, joins me on The Allbound Podcast to discuss the why behind creating a partner agency program, owning the customer relationship, and divvying up valuable time between partners.

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How long has the Partner Program at Wistia been in place?

It started when I arrived. Wistia brought me on to develop and run this. I came to Wistia just a year ago, January 2016, and we launched the program three weeks after I started.

It was pretty unbelievable. It was one of those things where I said, "I think the best way to do it is just to dive right in and build it as I go." What that allowed me to do was to really listen to our first round of agencies that signed up. So instead of building anything in a vacuum and crossing my fingers hoping that it worked, I was able to listen to that first cohort, ask them questions, and build what they needed. So it was a hectic beginning, but I'm glad we dove right in.

 

Why did it make sense for Wistia to begin an agency-based program? What was your executive team hoping to achieve by developing this kind of program and hiring you to come build this?

Most businesses, when they set out to make a video, hire someone to do that video for them. It's not unusual that you'll find businesses that have internal video teams, but most of the time it's an external hire to actually contract out or to get an agency or production shop to do that. So, agencies are a natural fit for Wistia. In fact, many of Wistia's customers are, and have historically been, agencies. It made sense for Wistia to dig deep into that cohort of its customers and to figure out if we could find a way to partner with them and help them be more successful.

What I've found coming in is that there were two huge opportunities within video for both the production shops and the broader marketing agencies. So, regardless of what type of an agency you are, agencies that are doing video have an opportunity to upsell their clients or just increase the size of the deals they're closing by adding video services to their existing portfolio. So maybe the agency offers services and now has an opportunity to increase that by adding video on top of the SEO or the social work or the e-mail marketing they might be doing. Or, for those that already offer video, they have the opportunity of adding additional video services.

The real success comes when agencies go from just video production to running full video marketing campaigns. The agency can own the strategy, and the planning. They can do the marketing around that video, and if they're using a platform like Wistia, they can measure and prove the success of that video. What we've found - what our partner agencies have found - is that their clients are willing to pay more for those services because they ensure the success of the video.

So part of our goal with starting this agency partner program is to educate the agencies that were already using Wistia about how to run these types of campaigns, how to use Wistia to prove out the success of their videos, and then how to upsell, or sell larger deals.

The other opportunity lies in moving from one off video projects, to having a retainer model of work. Most people say, "Hey, we want one video for our homepage, and that's it." That's the equivalent of asking an agency to just write one blog post, and hope that it goes viral, or one tweet and hope it goes viral. Video can do so much more than just sit on YouTube, or a homepage. Video boosts results across the board for both marketing and sales initiatives, lead nurturing, closing deals, or whatever the end goal is.

Videos are also getting less and less expensive to make. Wistia has a ton of great resources for our agencies about how to record on an iPhone, or make a lighting kit for under a hundred bucks. We wanted to help agencies create more and better video, and then help them make the case to move to that retainer model, a more sustainable source of income for them.

So really, our goal in creating a partner program is to help agencies do those things. And of course it's a win-win, right? If video becomes an agency's core strength, if they're closing larger deals, if they're getting onto a retainer model and doing more and more video, then the more clients they'll introduce to Wistia and the longer those clients will stick around. Being able to help agencies be successful in two ways was really the main driver.

 

From a very nitty-gritty partner program detail perspective, who owns the customer relationship? Are the agencies reselling Wistia, or are the agencies referring the business to Wistia?

The agencies are reselling Wistia. We decided to go the route of having an agency partner reseller program, as opposed to sort of having an affiliate program where people get credit for links into Wistia or for referring leads because we wanted to own the end relationship with the client.

I actually came from HubSpot before Wistia and a lot of our inspiration for a successful model of a great agency program comes from Hubspot's agency program. I think they do great things with their agencies. One thing that is core of their model, which we've taken up and has been really valuable, is owning that end relationship with the client. Because at the end of the day, agencies and their clients, it's a temporary relationship. They might work together for a couple years, or a couple months, but at the end of the day, they usually part ways. You want to make sure that your company owns that end relationship so that when an agency disappears, they don't also take all their clients with them.

 

How do you handle agency partnerships from a document perspective so you stay in connection with that customer but the agency also still plays a supportive role in that customer relationship?

We ask our agencies to separate out the cost of Wistia from the general charge, or to at least make it very clear within the contract that they're signing with their clients, that Wistia is a separate account, a separate charge. We ask that every agency signs their clients up with unique Wistia accounts, and that the end client owns that account, and the billing. It's as simple as that. Every agency is made a manager on any client account. They have full access to the account, they can do all the work in the account, they have access to basically everything but billing. That's also our way of tracking which agency is associated with which accounts; whether or not they are a manager on an account. As long as the agency is a manager in an account, then all that credit for that account, for the sign up, the resale, and the future work goes to the agency.


To learn more about running a successful agency partner program, tune in to episode 14 of The Allbound Podcast.

 

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