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The Partner Channel Podcast | Season 2, Episode 41

What Not to Do When Co-Marketing 

Show Synopsis

In our last episode of season 2, host Tori Barlow is joined by Jeremy Balius, Managing Director at Filament! If you’ve got your ears to the ground in the partnerships space, you’ve definitely heard the word ‘co-marketing’ a lot as of late. But how can you co-market efficiently and effectively? On this episode, we’re talking all about what NOT to do when co-marketing.


  • What some trends are that are working right now
  • How partners can lead partners with their marketing team
  • What the end-goal of co-marketing really is

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The Script

Tori Barlow: Welcome to the Partner Channel podcast, The Voice of the Channel. I’m Tori Barlow, VP of Marketing at Allbound. Excited to be here with Jeremy Bayliss, managing Director at Filament. Welcome, Jeremy. Super pumped to have you today.

Jeremy Balius: Thanks. It’s good to be here.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, you’ve been up to a lot. Jeremy and the team work in partner programs in Asia Pacific and North America, including Microsoft, VMware, Dell, NetApp, Cisco, Veeam and many others. And we’re recording this episode in November, but on November 29th. Filament won Best Content Marketing campaign in the 2022 Summer Search Awards Australia, and it’s the only agency finalist across all categories with two clients in the campaign, VMware and an Australian cloud provider. And it was with a partner co marketing campaign. So I’m pumped to be highlighting that. And I know you’re representing partner marketing in this way. It’s huge for the industry, so congrats on that.

Jeremy Balius: Thanks. We’re really excited.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, that’s awesome. And it also goes along with what we’re chatting about today, which is co marketing and maybe what not to do when trying to co market. You have a ton of experience here. Work with several clients across the sector and gamut and have a wealth of knowledge to share with our audience. So before we dive in you know you are helping brands co market all day every day. What are some things and some trends that are working right now?

Jeremy Balius: Yeah. Now, I think what’s really exciting is that the discussion is starting to progress beyond just lead generation as an outcome for partner marketing and to really start focusing on what demand generation looks like or even creating demand. It’s challenging and partner marketing, particularly when there’s market development funds involved because those need to be spent at quarterly cycles. So it’s really difficult to take an account based marketing approach and think about demand gen in this way. So there’s still outcomes required for these, which tends to be lead generation. And there’s eyes involved in terms of how many leads did a campaign produce. But it’s really exciting that the conversation is starting to slowly shift in partner marketing land. There’s also a really cool trend occurring that I think ties in with that which is moving away from marketing originated revenue. So what net new prospects and leads to this campaign produce? And understanding that in an ad campaign that we’re more influencing revenue and we’re pursuing buying committees and there’s a lot of stakeholders involved and it’s not as binary as we spend X amount of funds and we got this amount of leads which leads to X amount of revenue. It’s more around how is marketing influencing the buying cycle as a whole? So I think the more that partner marketing teams and organizations and channel programs adopt this process of. Better the outcome will be.

Tori Barlow: It’s always hard to to think about the KPIs for partner marketing and co marketing, but I think it’s crucial that both set the stage at the beginning with execs and really across different departments on what are the goals of partner marketing. And you’re right, it’s not, Hey, this one webinar will produce 100,000 in opportunity value. You can’t attribute that, but what you can do is affect the influenced pipe, whether that’s the webinar or an email campaign with a partner, whatever it is, you have to set that stage at the beginning and sometimes that can be challenging. Do you have any advice on the KPIs you mentioned, like where to start and how to kind of bubble that up to executives for partner marketing?

Jeremy Balius: Yeah, it’s tough, especially when there’s amounts of marketing investment being allocated to these campaigns. They need to see something for what’s being spent, and especially especially for organizations that are still early on in investing in these types of programs. It’s hard to put up those funds and not have a specific concrete outcome happen within 60 to 90 days of the campaign. So I think with sales teams together, it’s good to start taking a bigger picture. Views of these are the accounts that we are pursuing and together as partners as we’re pursuing them together, we need to start looking at how we talk about attribution in a meaningful way. That just doesn’t sound like marketing jargon to non marketing and it needs to to meet some kind of process so that in a longer term cycle they can see the outcome with the step along the way. So it just takes a lot of communication and buy-in.

Tori Barlow: I think so. And I also think it takes a lot of orchestration. Like you can’t say using the webinar example again, like you can’t do a webinar with a partner and then just call it quits. I think from both sides you have to have involvement from different teams, whether that’s the sales team, the team, if you’re working through retention with partners, whatever it is like, there has to be that next step after the marketing initiative to create that like finish line, I guess. But that’s hard to do. I think it’s hard to orchestrate that and get buy-in. But you’re right, it comes from the beginning. And I’m curious, what are, I guess, like obvious mistakes that you’ve seen people make for partner marketing that listeners should absolutely avoid?

Jeremy Balius: Yeah. There’s quite a few and I just want to concentrate on a couple that we experience all the time. And working with, with partners or partner programs is that partner marketing needs to go deeper than just putting a couple of logos onto a webinar deck or some other marketing asset. It’s a combined story. You’re presenting a combined brand narrative, and that’s really hard to do because nobody’s responsible for that. And how do we come together as multiple brands, either if it’s partners in an ecosystem or if it’s a partner who’s in a channel program, And that partner might be a value added reseller or a system integrator or a distributor or or maybe multiple partners in a vendor program. How are we telling a story that is addressing the client or the end user? Pain points in a way that makes sense, in a way that’s valuable, that can’t be told by each brand on their own? And so I think one of the core mistakes is these assets get produced by a global marketing team to be used by partner marketers. But at the end of the day, it just has multiple logos on it with messaging that just flips from, okay, here’s the one partner’s messaging now, here’s the next partner’s messaging, and it just doesn’t go far enough and it doesn’t lead to the right result that they’d be looking for.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, I think you’re I’m kind of giggling to myself because I think what we see, too, is a lot of customers think, Oh yeah, you can just co-brand get something out or do one email. And it really involves that human element for a true co-marketing partner marketing relationship where you have to have those touch spaces on, on what is that value you’re trying to communicate to the audience, the shared audience, and like, how do you actually come together? Like it is more than just doing a webinar together. It’s actually, do you even tell a good story with this partner? And like, maybe that’s even the first step. When you’re trying to partner with someone, it’s like, what is our value that we’re trying to sell? Because I think if partner managers or leaders think so much about the end goal, which is revenue, sometimes it gets so fuzzy and blurry in the middle of like, Wait, is this even a good partner for our messaging, you know?

Jeremy Balius: It’s that and it’s an understanding that we’ve partnered for a reason. But does that combined messaging attract an audience that can only be. Attracted when we are marketing together because otherwise it’s too much effort and there’s so much buildup required to execute these campaigns. Unless there’s something intrinsically valuable for that combined messaging, it’s probably better to go for it yourself and look for other partners where your combined messaging is. More powerful.

Tori Barlow: Yeah. Now, I’ve heard this one before. I’ve seen it come across my plate with partner leaders. Partner managers are not necessarily marketers. At the end of the day, they need to partner with the marketing departments. We need resources for marketing teams, content. You know, how do you go about with partnering with your own in-house marketing team? And also, what should they ask in terms of content creation? How do you go about that?

Jeremy Balius: It’s a really good question, I think. I think it needs to start with an implicit understanding that everybody’s already busy. You know, it’s. Everyone already has too much on their plate. So partner marketers need to understand how they are creating a scenario for marketing to support them or care in the first place? Right. And it’s new. It’s not part of a marketer’s KPIs necessarily. It may be one day if it grows and becomes successful. But by and large, we don’t see that responsibility in marketing and have direct, direct KPIs within their day to day to support the and marketers. So I think if a partner marketing starts with an understanding of how do I work with someone who’s already too busy? To create a scenario for myself and my partners that I’m managing to help marketing. That’s probably the best way to start. And I think from there, you know, one of the most important assets or elements that we see in all of this is building that trust. So if you’re just starting out to engage with marketing and you want custom assets for your partners in a specific region, how do you start somewhere to build trust with a marketing team to either invest their time and effort into you or over time create a scenario where you can sort yourself out because you’ve built the trust with your marketing team and they just become a sign off on content because you’ve been able to start developing. Specific or partner specific content without necessarily needing marketing involved at every step.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, I think it’s the old adage to giving before getting. So if you’re new at a company, on the partner team and you have to make a friend on the in-house marketing team, you know, what could you give before you get something from them. I think that’s a and that goes for every department if you need something from sales vice versa. I think it’s a great old adage to live by. And you know what? You’ve seen it all at this point with partner marketing. What would be the number one thing people should remember about co marketing?

Jeremy Balius: So I think the number one goes back to this trust issue, and I think it’s the most critical element when you have multiple organizations coming together to partner beyond just the contractual, partnering and being in an ecosystem, but going deeper to actively work together. I think it’s really important to have a core focus on how we elicit and build trust and how do we accelerate that and how do we sustain that trust. It’s. It’s really important to think about how other organizations appear, and perceive how you are supporting a combined effort. And so that trust needs to be developed in a way that shows that you have either aligned or co-aligned. Marketing investment that you are actively contributing to this campaign in a way that makes sense for both your sharing responsibilities and your meeting your accountabilities. You’ve got the right communication frameworks to ensure that everybody is involved every step of the way. When those are in balance and trust erodes, the first thing that happens is the campaign feels over. And the risk attached to that is that there was so much visibility on that campaign that it either erodes a wider organizational relationship or even worse, it erodes trust in partner marketing as a whole within an organization. And so it’s so important for partner marketers to have that utmost focus on how they build trust and sustain it.

Tori Barlow: You’re right. It’s not just a contract. We’re partners now, whether reseller referral, whatever it is, it’s an actual relationship. So how do you build that relationship that’s fruitful for both sides? And something we didn’t get into is, obviously if you have 100 plus partners, you can’t dedicate all of your resources to all 100. So thinking about how do you tier or I guess give attention to the ones that you really do want to put effort into marketing with, Is that something that partner managers should think about from a revenue perspective, or really, how should they think about that?

Jeremy Balius: I think this is such an excellent point, because when you’re in these programs where you have dozens or hundreds of partners, you can by nature only focus on those who are going to return the most or with whom you can partner to. Achieve larger outcomes. I mean, that’s just doing good business. But the way that they can start focusing on providing support and to wider groups or networks has traditionally been just creating templated content and providing it via their partner relationship management tool or their or their partner tool or even just on their website. That tends to be just the slap a logo on the document type stuff. It tends to be generated by a global marketing team based in HQ, which tends to be the lowest common denominator. Essentially from a messaging perspective, it might be too product focused because it’s just being generated by a team and, and then provided across a wider network. So I think partner marketers can start shifting that to look to understand how we can start providing content and campaign assets that are meaningful and valuable to wider network networks that are based globally or who are more disparate and spread out? How can we go deeper on content that supports specific verticals or a specific end customer pain points and provide it in a way that still elicits trust from your core global marketing team so that it still takes the boxes of meeting brand guidelines. And so it’s those messages, but it’s positioned in a way that actively supports the partner in their marketing as well.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, so there’s a couple of ways to look at this. If you have a couple hundred or like you said, north of a dozen partners, you know, building content for scale. So that could be through an automation program, but that’s another way to collaborate with your marketing teams is ensuring that everything’s up to par with the brand, but also that all partners have some piece of your attention. And that could be through the templates you’re talking about. And then that second tier is parsing out those partners that are really your revenue generators, lead generators, whatever it is, and really building that relationship to take it to the next level is a couple of ways to look at that. And then I guess what in your mind is like the end goal of co marketing, like you’ve hit the jackpot, you’ve succeeded in co marketing. What is.

Jeremy Balius: That? I think the fundamental goal is that we need to be totally cognizant of it. And in any of our endeavors when it comes to co marketing is being better together. And if we can be better together as partners to reach specific audiences because our combined brand messaging, our combined value proposition as partners is able to cut through the noise of other competitors and reach end user audiences or influence existing accounts that are in their pipe, that that that the co marketing and the going to market together is more powerful than if you were to do it on your own.

Tori Barlow: I feel some sort of emotion elicited from this conversation. I think that’s what it is about co marketing. You’re building trust and building a relationship. Thank you to our guests, Jeremy, managing director at Filament. And thank you to you, the listeners, for joining us here at the Partner Channel podcast. If you like what you heard, subscribe to our podcast episodes wherever you like to listen to podcasts.