Allbound Logo - Partner Programs



S3E13: How Successful ISVs Co-Market

Show Synopsis

On this episode of the Partner Channel Podcast, host Tori Barlow is catching up with Amiee Keenan, Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at the ISV Society. Together, these two are taking on the hot topic of co-marketing and how ISVs can measure their success.
Tune in to learn more!


  • What ISV stands for
  • Why ISV folks should pay attention to co-marketing
  • How ISVs should set about measuring success

Subscribe to The Partner Channel Podcast Available on these Platforms

The Script

Welcome to the Partner Channel podcast, the podcast for partnerships. In our episodes, we discuss ways to power your programs and gain actionable insights for all company sizes and partner types. We sit down with industry thought leaders to get the best tips and tricks for you, the listeners, to achieve your channel goals.

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 Amy Keenan, Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at the ISV Society. Amy, it’s so nice to have you on our podcast because I was on your podcast, so returning the favor. Welcome.

Amiee Keenan: Thank you. I’m excited. It’s usually the other way around. A lot of the times I’m the one that’s the host, so it’s nice to be a guest. Yeah.

Tori Barlow: And yeah, you’ve been up to a lot in the past 20 years working with ISVs, and you are a recent winner of the Channel Marketer of the Year from Allbound, Woot, woot and your thankful to do what you love and you help ISVs collaborate and generate leads in an affordable way. So I feel like everyone can benefit from this podcast and from the ISV Society.

Amiee Keenan: Definitely.

Tori Barlow: Well, today we are diving into co-marketing and I feel like this is such a hot take right now. Like there’s so much buzz going on around what is co-marketing partner marketing, all of that jazz. And I think this is also a vehicle into potentially getting really great exec buy in for partnerships in general. But you have to do it right like you have to know how to market to with partners if you’re an ISV. So I guess just backing it up a bit, you’re the CMO of the ISV Society or the founder. What does ISV stand for for newer listeners to partner programs? And why should these folks specifically pay attention to co-marketing?

Amiee Keenan: Sure. So ISV stands for independent software vendor. And what basically what we do or what they do is they create solutions for the numerous ERPs out there, such as Microsoft, Acumatica, NetSuite, Sage SAP, and make those solutions even better. And so is Visa, I think, have a really integral part in the ERP process and why it’s great for partners and ISVs to do this co-marketing and work together because the ISVs can help enhance those systems that these partners are selling in selling and making them more attractive and better and helping meet the customer’s needs.

Tori Barlow: Are they typically white labeled?

Amiee Keenan: So it can be either or. A lot of it isn’t white labeled. It all depends on the solution, I would say. But many of the times it’s not white labeled.

Tori Barlow: Okay. Yeah, that makes sense, especially for the brand brand sake and I guess for the ISVs that are listening right now, or if you manage ISVs, you know, why should these folks specifically pay attention to co-marketing and why is it so important?

Amiee Keenan: And I feel like there’s a couple of different ways you could take co-marketing, right? So ISVs could co-market together to leverage each other’s solutions and how they enhance the ERP and provide co-marketing initiatives to partners such as webinars and blogs and such. And then partners can co market with these ISVs doing case studies showing how this product has helped this ERP. So this partner can then leverage that case study to attract new customers, especially if it’s an industry specific type of initiative or a niche or something like that, where partners are really trying to attract a specific persona, buyer, persona or customer. 

They can leverage the ISVs that really also concentrate on that buyer in that industry and that niche to leverage each other’s expertise in that area, as well as the solutions that enhance it.

Tori Barlow: I think that’s really important. And you’re right, dissecting what co-marketing even is like. I think it’s thrown around so much lately that it’s not just like slapping your logos together. Right? I know someone who said that recently to me, Jeremy Valis, that Philomont and, you know, I think it’s like so much more. You’re actually working with a human on the other end and and creating that, like, message that’s so solid between the two partners that you have to really come together. And so I’m curious, you’re in this space, you know, all the time and you see all these different examples. What are some do’s and don’ts to co-marketing? And I want to be honest, I want to hear about the cringeworthy don’ts.

Amiee Keenan: So definitely don’t do it just for the sake of doing it. You know, I feel like there has to be really a nice cohesive plan in place. There has to be some kind of common goal and it has to make sense, right? It has to make sense for the partner. It has to make sense for the ISV from a marketing standpoint, from a content standpoint. And leveraging each other’s expertise in each area. So I feel like a lot of things when it comes down to co marketing, there is a lot of legwork, right? And so I think partners and ISVs kind of shun away from it because it is a time consuming thing to get a case study done from a customer. It is a time consuming thing too. You know, we all are busy, so it’s time consuming to come up with that book or that white paper or whatever initiative that they are going to work on together. So sometimes I feel like those things get put on the back burner. And don’t come to fruition because of that. So don’t let time be this the stopper from you getting this content done because it can be really powerful once it is done from a marketing standpoint. And it can help the partner get more customers in the end and also help educate their customers in the end. So don’t let that hinder you from starting something because time obviously is doing it right is so important. I don’t think we should be rushed or anything like that. Again, coming up with a plan and coming up with a common goal. It should be a mutual thing for both the partner and the ISV to work on together because obviously that partnership is important and creating content that you both can leverage is important and be able to utilize. You know, because we’re both in the end, partners and ISVs are all doing the same thing, right? They want to get in front of more customers and they want to get more customers. And so what better way to do that in the power of working together and doing these joint marketing initiatives?

Tori Barlow: I think you hit on a lot of good points. Everyone wears a ton of hats. And I think if you’re starting out and creating these campaigns, like you don’t have to bite off so much at one time, you can do a quarterly campaign and see how that goes and put a lot of love behind it and see if it works versus slapping something together like you’re saying. And I think it makes sense to, you know, just just start small and, and really create that relationship, cultivate that relationship with between the ISV and the partner. And I think it will go so much further than just doing one campaign and seeing how it goes. I also think this hits on the point of like buying from other departments. You know, if you’re managing these partners, you may also need help from your marketing department or whoever’s marketing department to help with this collateral. So be kind to those departments and give them good lead time. Involve them in the planning, see how they’ll be a part of it. But what’s your advice there on getting marketing buy in for stuff like this?

Amiee Keenan: Yeah, and I guess it all comes down to again, what the initial goal is and what they both want to get out of it. And a lot of the times what happens is a partner will nine times out of ten reach out to an ISV because they already have a customer in mind that needs their solution. So once you have that established and that goes really well and you build that relationship, then you can start asking for those other things, right? You don’t want to just reach out to a partner and say, Hey, let’s do this together when maybe you’ve done nothing with them in the past or, you know, you’re just they’re just starting out with you and you don’t want to bombard them with all of this information right up off the gate. So I feel like there has to be some initial partner relationship building first before you can start doing these types of asks. And when you have your marketing team and their marketing team working together, it makes it a little bit easier for both teams because you’re leveraging each other. So it’s not like one person is doing all the work. So that usually helps when you are splitting the tasks involved and splitting what needs to get done and making it more beneficial for everybody and more digestible chunks, so to speak.

 So everyone is all contributing versus one sided. So I think that certainly helps as well. And a lot of ISVs want to go out there and ask partners, Hey, let’s do a webinar. And while that’s all fine and dandy, I don’t think webinars are always so effective and people are getting webinars out. So it’s, it’s kind of like, Hey, what is your webinar strategy? First find out that and then see if it makes sense for you to do a webinar with them instead of right out the gate asking them, Hey, let’s do this, Let’s can we burn your email? Can we? I feel like a lot of ISPs ask for a lot at first when we just have to take a step back, see what the partner is doing, how we can leverage what they are existing doing in their marketing, because they probably already have a marketing plan together, a marketing calendar, an email cadence, a webinar cadence. 

So where can you fit in there versus just asking right off the bat how you guys can actually work together and create that relationship first. And then build it from there.

Tori Barlow: You mentioned that people are getting webinar’d out. I totally agree with this. I think it’s a lot to register and a lot of people don’t even attend these days. So what is a, I guess, a tangible campaign that an ISV and a partner could just get off the ground quickly?

Amiee Keenan: Sure. And you know, I wouldn’t say I know people are webinars out right. But if you are bringing compelling content that people want, then yes, webinars can be very successful. I like to say you’re creating an experience versus demoing people to death or just pushing product product product on them all the time or or features make it more of an educational informational session versus pouring out a demo and such. Also think if there’s a way, which I’m looking into this now for the ISV societies offering CPE credit, that seems that that is a huge thing right now, too, that I think a lot of people can leverage. There is a lot of work that goes behind it, which again I’m looking into, but I’m hoping to offer that next year for all the ISV Society members. So that gives an incentive, right, for people to join your webinar and you want to make it an experience versus again, demoing people to death. So there is a place for webinars, it’s just how you tackle them and how you engage and how you make it beneficial to the customer or your audience. And then I think another huge thing is video.

Amiee Keenan:  and I think it’s going to be a big deal in 2023 and beyond making short form videos and getting creative and fun with it. I think it’s good to think outside the box and work with partners in different ways instead of doing the same old things all the time. And there are so many free tools out there that you can use to create great videos. And heck, people use their phone nowadays to create video. So if you can come up with creative ways to work with partners and creating some nice educational, even fun informational videos, I think that goes a long way for the audience as well. And of course, case studies are huge too. Obviously, those are very powerful when customers can hear from another customer on how the ERP and the ISV has helped them, what their pain points were, how they would save time and money. And it’s just very powerful to be able to do that. But it can be time consuming. But. A but I think the time is worth the investment because of the what you get out of it and how you can leverage it and how you can use it for all different areas In the marketing, you can use blogs, social, you can use it. In all types of marketing. So I think it’s very, very that can be very powerful doing a case study together as well.

Tori Barlow: I love the idea of on demand videos because then folks can pause, go back, do whatever on their own time, and you can still track the success of that. There’s tons of ways to track and measure that. And I guess finally, speaking of measuring, you know, we brought this up in the beginning of our talk that it’s a lot of effort sometimes to do co-marketing initiatives. And I can imagine if I’m, you know, in the executive level, hearing that someone on my team wants to do this co-marketing initiative, my first question will be, well, what will the ROI be? What will the success be? So how do ISVs and partners really go about thinking about KPIs or even measuring a campaign like this?

Amiee Keenan: And that can be, you know, and it can depending on the campaign, it can be really easy. Obviously, a webinar is the registrants and attendees for emails. You can see open rates and click through rates and things like that. If you create some kind of landing page or call to action, obviously you can drive attendance to that. So I think if you’re doing a case study or something, video or something powerful like that, have it gated so that way you can if that is your main goal to to get these leads. Then you have to have some way of tracking it. And the only way you can track that, obviously, is if you gate it. So I think there’s a way to gate content and there’s times that you should gate content. So when you are working with the ISV, say for an example, you did this case study, joint case study this ISV and this partner did. So maybe what you do is you create some quick social posts with snippets of that case study and then drive it to the landing page to get the whole case study to download. Maybe they’re sending out an email with some information about that case study. Again, driving it to. The case study. Maybe it’s turning into a blog. And then and then you’re also putting that link to that landing page in the case study.  

There’s numerous ways you can market that and then collect the leads, but you do have to have it gated if that’s their main goal, to track and do those analytics and get that ROI, then they’ll have to do some kind of gated initiative around it as well.

Tori Barlow: This is so fun to talk to you. There’s so much to unpack with ISVs. If you are an ISV provider, you have to check out Amy’s ISV Society. Amy If people need to or want to check it out, where can they go?

Amiee Keenan: Sure. So basically you can go to my website, the I’m also on LinkedIn. You can go out there. I have a place where you can download the ISV guide to grow your audience. I also have a podcast. You can hear Tori and I, Tori and I did an episode a couple episodes back, and I also have some other initiatives that I help ISVs with. So yeah, check out my page on LinkedIn, visit my website and certainly reach out to me. Connect with me there.

Tori Barlow: Thank you to our guest, Amy, founder and chief marketing officer at the ISV Society. 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.

That’s all for this episode. We’d like to thank you for taking the time to listen in. If you like what you heard, we’d love the chance to take the talk to LinkedIn and continue the conversation. If you want to stay up to date with all of our new episodes, subscribe to our series wherever you like to listen to podcasts.


Show More

More From The Partner Channel Podcast