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The Allbound Podcast #25: Partner Up and Be a Chameleon. It’s Magic.
April 24, 2017

Partner Up and Be a Chameleon. It’s Magic.


Anjali Menon, Head of Growth Operations at Magic, joins me, Jen Spencer to discuss integrations with complementary technologies, listening to data, being honest with your community of partners and more on this episode of The Allbound Podcast.

When you think about the plans and go-to-market strategy for Magic, how important do you believe those strategic partnerships are going to be in your success? What kind of plans do you have in the works?

Partners can add so much value to our type of business. But it’s really a matter of finding the right fit because Magic has so many complexities. You can ask for anything as simple as lunch to something as complex as carrying out an entire sales cycle for a business using Magic. So because it runs the gamut of things that you can do, we really have to evaluate what partners make sense for us. But for Magic, like many other businesses, I think success for our customers comes in the form of efficiency gains, obviously, cost savings, and value-add. And partners can add all of these things.

Among others, right now we’re exploring verticalized partnerships. So, if we can sit on top of other services that already have domain expertise, it’s a win-win for us, i.e., if I already use a cleaning service that I know is good and I can just recommend that to my clients, then I’m saving them and us time by doing so.

Tweet: Just because they're a major brand doesn't mean they're a good partner for you. - @elegantunivers9 of @magic on the #AllboundPodcast  “Just because they’re a major brand doesn’t mean they’re a good partner for you.” – @elegantunivers9 of @magic on the #AllboundPodcast

Other partners that are interesting to us are ones that epitomize our values. We have two really interesting values at Magic, yagni and plow.

Yagni is a term that means “you aren’t going to need it.” In the startup community, people will say it all the time. It’s a term that signifies when we work with you, we want a partnership that understands that we’re working under constraints, and you understand that, and I understand that. And we don’t go build things that we don’t really need at the moment. We’ll build them when it’s absolutely necessary. So that’s something that we might look for as a value in terms of partnerships.

The other concept is plow, which you’ll hear almost every day in our office. Particularly for a personal assistant kind of concierge company, it’s the concept that you don’t give up. You keep plowing to make sure that whatever the client wants, you try to get. And so we would hope that our partners sort of share those values as well.

Tweet: I look at partner communities like a two-sided marketplace, because that's the background I come from. - @elegantunivers9 #AllboundPodcast  I look at partner communities like a two-sided marketplace, because that’s the background I come from. – @elegantunivers9 #AllboundPodcast

Partnerships are key for us, but they need to align strategically both in what we’re doing as well as what our clients need, as well as what the partners themselves need. When we went viral two years ago we had major, major brands coming to us, asking us to partner with them. And we turned most of them down. We had to be true to what our capabilities were, and you’ve got to be honest with what you can deliver and what the partner expects. And at that point, we hadn’t even really figured out who our right customer profile was and if these major brands made sense for what we were doing. Just because they’re a major brand doesn’t mean they’re a good partner for you.

How about integrations? Are you looking at other complementary technologies to play a role in your growth goals? I’m thinking about different apps I might be in on a regular basis like Postmates for delivering food or supplies or what have you. Are you thinking about technology, and in that respect, for partnership?

This is such a great question for two reasons. One because we just launched a Magic version for Slack. So this Magic-Slack integration allows teams and businesses to easily and more transparently use Magic as an office manager. Slack has been really useful for us as the first step to growing our business in a different category. Slack is a partner whose whole value prop is to increase productivity with teams, and we have a very similar value prop; we’re a Productivity Tool. So there’s synergy here. And if we can reach more of our target audience through a medium that allows teams to interact more collaboratively like Slack, that’s exactly the kind of thing that’s good for our business but even better for our clients.

Tweet: We actually spotted the problem of clients not getting what they wanted...through data - @elegantunivers9 #AllboundPodcast  “”We actually spotted the problem of clients not getting what they wanted…through data” – @elegantunivers9 #AllboundPodcast

You alluded to Postmates. And that’s a whole other category of partnerships that we’d also be thinking about; basically these niche services that we can sit on top of or that can sit on top of us, either way. We can use them as our clients come in and say, “Hey, I need a burrito.” The fastest way to do that is through DoorDash or Postmates or something like that. That’s definitely something that increases productivity and efficiency for us.

I know I can speak on behalf of the Allbound #AllStars, we try to make Slack do everything. We try to run our whole business through Slack. Things that are important and all of the shenanigans as well.

That’s awesome. What’s interesting with the Slack integration, is we’re finding different use cases for Magic just by virtue of being on a different platform other than text. Because when you’re on a platform that allows for different teams to interact with one Magic as if they were an office manager suddenly Magic becomes the office manager, and it’s booking appointments for people, it’s bringing vaccines on campus, it’s booking team outings, and suddenly the use cases are becoming very different, and the way that they interact with Magic is different too, just by virtue of the platform. It’s a key growth initiative for us to be thinking about these other kinds of platforms, because they increase the ways in which folks use Magic, increasing their own productivity. But it’s also, of course, then expanding the reach of who can use us as well, which is really good for both sides.

We talk to a lot of people building partner programs, whether they’re reseller programs, referral partners, affiliates. They’re not trying to build a program just to get leads or just for top of funnel. They’re really looking for, “How can I build a true community for my partner ecosystem?” Maybe it’s to get partners collaborating with each other, or to get partners and customers collaborating to a shared experience. From over the course of your career, whether you want to speak to something from being at Twitter or TaskRabbit or even at Magic now, do you have any advice for people who are setting out to attempt to create a community?

I look at building partner communities or whatever form of community you’re building, like a two-sided marketplace because that’s the background I come from. So the relationship needs to benefit not only your clients but the partners themselves. For a business like Magic that’s so dynamic where the scope of what we offer is pretty much the sky’s the limit, we in particular need partners who understand this and can be flexible enough to work within the constraints of that model. So I would really say for folks who are interested in building this kind of community, define and qualify the ideal folks in the community and how do they fit into what you’re building?

Tweet: Honesty is everything. Be honest with your community of partners. Because then, the expectations are set correctly. - @elegantunivers9 #AllboundPodcast  “Honesty is everything. Be honest with your community of partners. Because then, the expectations are set correctly.” – @elegantunivers9 #AllboundPodcast

Because if you can’t define that, then you’re not in a good position to set up the community and your partners for success. When we had major brands coming to us, we didn’t even know who a good partner for us was and who our right customers were. But now we can start thinking about that. Being able to understand who those right partners are for your community is key. The other thing I would say is honesty is everything. Be honest with your community of partners. Because then, the expectations are set correctly. Don’t over play your capabilities because you think that’s what your partners want to hear. You are a partner in the partnership, and for it to work, really being able to transparently lay out the scope of what you can do, why you’re doing it, and why it’s important as it relates to your values are all very key. That’s my best advice.

To learn more about integrations with complementary technologies, listening to data, being honest with your community of partners and more, tune in to episode 25 of The Allbound Podcast.

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Want to hear more? Subscribe on iTunes. Also available through Google Play. The Allbound Podcast explores the evolving fundamentals of partner-based selling in the SaaS and subscription economy. Featuring some of the industry’s brightest minds in channel sales and marketing, episodes of The Allbound Podcast delve into how and why indirect sales and marketing has long been, and continues to be, a proven medium for accelerating growth and success. And how traditional “channel” models are being transformed into efficient, connected ecosystems to supercharge sales and drive customer success while keeping costs low. Subscribe on iTunes