Align the demo updates with the larger product launches, so that you're highlighting some of the major product updates in the canned demo. I've found what works best in delivering canned demos is to create a script and get feedback on it from other GTM stakeholders prior to the launch, and then to work with sales enablement to deliver training on the demo and any updated messaging after.
The frameworks that I use for positioning and messaging have changed over time, as I've advanced in my marketing career in enterprise tech. Earlier in my career (when I was in product marketing), we would approach positioning and messaging for a major product launch. There were a few frameworks that worked well for me here:
- Elevator Pitch - tell me what your product does in (25 words, 50 words, 100 words)
- 9-box messaging framework - call out three benefits that your customers experience from your product/solution and provide proofpoints for how your product supports those benefits. I've found that this internal document is best socialized for buy-in across larger marketing and product teams.
- Draft press release - forces you to take a more outside-in approach when you're coming up with new positioning and messaging.
While each of these items/assets will help you build stronger positioning and messaging; what's most important is to align and set expectations with your cross-functional stakeholders and broader marketing team.
As I've advanced in my career in marketing, I've had the privilege to partner with third party agencies and brand teams to refine the core positioning assets above. You'll be amazed at how much perspective these teams will provide you in overall positioning and messaging. I'd highly recommend early-in-career product marketers who are handling a major launch to proactively take this approach.
The other major component of positioning and messaging is around internal comms. It's up to you to show your work to cross-functional stakeholders, and inform people that good marketing doesn't just come out of thin air. Once you're done with all of your net deliverables I'd make sure to inform a broad cross-functional team of what you've brought to the table. You will get more visiblity and feedback from this; which will ultimately make you a better marketer.
I've worked in enterprise tech for most of my career (SAP, Oracle, ServiceNow). To be honest, I think the biggest competitor that I've always come across is the status quo (doing nothing) since there are so many influencers and decision-makers in an enterprise tech sales cycle.
Here are the main sources I use to keep informed on what's going on in the market.
- Stratechery - great podcast on all things tech
- WSJ + Bloomberg - I pay for both of these to stay informed on what's going on in the world
- LinkedIn - I follow relevant/interesting people to stay informed of what's top of mind for them
- The Information - great resource and newsletters to stay informed on what's going on in tech
- Earnings calls - listen to your competitors' earnings calls. I consider these marketing events where the CEO and CFO are positioning their company to institutional investors.
- Community - most companies have both internal and external communities/teams - have found this to be the best way to get a quick answer about a specific feature/function
I don't work as closely on competitive intelligence since I moved into partner marketing a couple of years ago. Even if you aren't comfortable doing the work, there are likely other people in your company with product strategy/bizops titles who likely have some additional info on win/loss analysis, that can help inform positioning and messaging.
There are also many third-party firms that also do a great job of sharing competitive intelligence through customer interviews as well.
One of the most exciting opportunities in partner marketing is to scale messaging across different channels. Some of these channels may be new to your company and your core marketing team, and you'll learn a ton by collaborating with other marketers across these channels. But it's also critical to make sure you select the right channels that are aligned with your brand.
To start, you've got to get the basics right and ensure your core positioning and messaging is landing in-market through your core campaigns, brand, demand gen, and content marketing teams. You'll actually see a pull effect where partners and other marketing teams will proactively reach out to you and ask to place your content and positioning through their channels.
But don't just take what's offered to you, be proactive and identify the channels that you want to launch through as well. As people, we read and learn from a variety of sources, your customers are learning about your product/solution the same way - so this is always something you should be thining about.
- Outside of impressions and click through rates, how does launching messaging through a new channel impact our business KPIs (revenue, pipeline, opportunities?) Launching through a new channel takes time - there's likely a lot of education that needs to happen on what your product/solution/offering is about; and then you have to work with other marketers to tailor and create content for that specific channel. Make sure you're aligned with your internal GTM teams on what the expected results are, before you go down this path.
- One of the main factors that drives my decision to say "yes" to messaging through a new channel is when it expands the awareness of our brand and solution/offering to a new geography or persona, where we already have GTM resources. It's not about growth and awareness at all costs, there needs to be a clear call to action for your local GTM teams. What I've found most helpful here is collaborating with in-country and regional marketing teams, and leveraging their expertise to maximize the impact of your campaign.
- As you work your positioning and messaging through additional channels (ads, whitepapers, podcasts, blogs, thought leadership articles) you'll start seeing some patterns around which channels actually deliver better value across the sales cycle. Some channels will be better for awareness, and some will be better for lead gen. If you're doing things right, you'll usually end up 'pushing the envelope' around what's possible, meaning that you'll pushing your stakeholders within your own marketing team to uplevel what they're doing, and define what's possible.
Focusing on the right partners and building an integrated co-marketing plan are critical. Sponsoring events is part of the game in partner marketing, but I'm not sure how much of your time should be spent sending out cold emails and cold calls to prospects.
It sounds like you're working with biz dev and alliance teams to identify the right partners to work with. I'd recommend starting with a handful of select partners, learn about how to leverage the resources within their ecosystem, and build relationships across their org - before going wide and cold emailing partners to join your ecosystem.
Honestly, having worked in both product and partner marketing, I don't think product marketing teams focus enough on partnerships. Product strategy to me is simple, it involves three components: "build, partner, buy". Based on my own experience, product marketing teams are great at executing the "build" aspect of the strategy - new product launches and adoption of new features. However, as companies and products mature, features in new releases become more incremental, so it's important to tell a broader story around your ecosystem. Most product marketing orgs will dedicate a specific role for an individual contributor to build content on product integrations, but the content is usually really dense and heavy - and doesn't do a good job telling the story of a partner ecosystem. I'd rather have someone in product management create those technical documents and presentations. I would really encourage product marketing teams to think more about how they can generate more awareness of their products and solutions through a partners' channels.
This is a great question. The partner marketing approach for sales enablement is very different from the traditional product marketing approach of creating a BOM and enabling your own internal sales and GTM teams.
The best way I've found to teach partners about our joint offerings is to ask them to participate in the joint value proposition definition. Getting your internal marketing teams at both companies to participate in this exercise gives them skin in the game, and usually results in a much better result than when this entire process is completely outsourced to a third-party. You also get introduced to additional stakeholders beyond your alliance and partner marketing team who can become advocates for you within your partner org. Working with these other stakeholders for me has resulted in content to be featured in earnings calls, exec keynotes, analyst briefings, etc. It's a great way to scale your influence.
Most of the time the content you work on and provide to your partner will just sit in an internal partner hub for enablement. These internal partner hubs are often maintained by a shared services team in marketing, the L&D department, or a consultant. There's a lot of room for human error - content may not get updated, it might not be easily searchable, someone might leave the company - etc. Basically you're dealing with all of the challenges of managing your own sales enablement hub, with no control at all.
If you have a good relationship with your marketing lead at your partner company, ask them to share how your content is performing, and what type of content performs well for other partners.
In addition, here are two assets that have resonated well with partner sales teams based on my experience.
- Internal win wires. These are written a little bit differently from case studies and can be delivered in PDF, single slide, or video format. Win wires are focused on how the account teams at both companies came together to strategize around a particular account, which resulted in NNACV and/or product adoption. We include additional talking points on what the partner brought to the table - whether it was intelligence around budget, or an introduction to a key relationship in the account. These win wires can also feed your pipeline of external customer stories which take longer to develop.
- Partner first call decks. You should only build these for your most strategic partners. This deck should highlight why you're working with a partner at the highest level, and enable anyone in your company to tell the story of why you are partnering with company XYZ. While we typically include some information how our products and solutions complement one another - we don't get too into the weeds. I don't like setting a sales rep, to have a conversation on a technical integration on their very first call with a customer. We also work with product management and customer success to make sure that they can support GTM teams who need to conduct a deeper dive on specific product integrations.
Everything. Just kidding!
It’s really important to communicate the impact you’re making with your partners across your internal teams. It's not always easy to find time to plan, execute, and then have to report out on all of the campaigns and activities you're driving. But if you don't advocate and promote what you're doing, no one else in the company is going to do it for you - and most likely they'll ask "what does partner marketing do?"
From the outside looking in, partner marketing looks a lot easier than it is. "It's just a demo in a partner exec keynote", "it's just us getting featured in the partner's blog", "it's just another press release". I believe that partner marketing is the one team within your company that can drive integrated marketing, because they're exposed to all of the internal GTM processes, while being always take an 'outside-in' approach to all of great co-marketing driven with partners. My remit ranges from anywhere from strategizing on how to boost brand equity through partnerships all the way through product adoption, and identifying what activities drove customers to turn on an integration.
In addition to all of the 'influencing without authority' that marketers do within their own orgs, partner marketers have to influence stakeholders in their respective partner orgs. You have to earn the right to be included in your partner's broader marketing initiatives. I've found that hosting a weekly meeting with your partner team is extremely helpful to connect on short-term deliverables and while also planning for broader campaigns. The best partner marketers don't complain or surface the complexity of their partner orgs within their own companies, they bring various stakeholders together across different functions and generate results.
I've taken two professional development courses on messaging (Pragmatic Marketing, Magnetic Speaking Messaging Course), and several marketing courses online and through school.
My major takeaway from all of these courses is that marketing is about influence, and as a marketer you need to be the strongest advocate of your own work because everyone thinks they can do marketing.
The best way to differentiate yourself as a marketer is to have a point of view of your industry and to create messaging that is authentic to you. Then find creative ways to show your wins to both internal and external audiences. That will take you a long way.
Not all partners are created or treated equal. Even if a partner has a really compelling and complementary offering on-paper, if there’s no executive alignment- your success in driving GTM with that partner will be very limited. So pick the partners you choose to work with wisely!
Given the number of internal and external stakeholders you have to work with across each partnership –alliances, marketing, product, corp strategy, sales, customer success – it's really important to dedicate most of your time to the top strategic partner(s). Go deep and learn about their ecosystems, get certified on their products. As you build relationships across your partner's org - this will help you understand how things work even more with your partner's ecosystem.
Building an integrated co-marketing plan across demand generation, new customer stories, product launches, events, and mapping out how much you'll spend each quarter with your partner, is a critical foundation to your success. It's the best tool/asset to get internal stakeholders on-board to support your co-marketing activities. There will always be changes and new initiatives that are introduced, and anchoring on your plan is the best way to keep you on-track.
I've also found it helpful really helpful to share success metrics and KPIs with partners. Partner marketing and alliance teams are increasingly being asked to show ROI for their activities and campaigns. Sharing your success and KPIs not only builds trust, but enables your partners to adjust their strategy to support you - whether it's providing more budget for co-marketing lead generation program, a critical event sponsorship, or identifying the right resources within their company to move an initiative forward.
Success in your partner's ecosystem breeds more success - meaning if you're doing the right things your partners will dedicate more resources, and expectations will also skyrocket :).