Our client, Elke Behrend, Partner Marketing Lead for Europe at Finastra, gives us her experience, insight, and best practice tips to get the most out of your partner ecosystem.
Tell us about your role?
I’m the Partner Marketing Lead for Europe at Finastra. I look after partners in the region that are based in different business units, for example in Treasury, Capital Markets, Payments, and Universal Banking. I work closely with them on joint marketing activities and onboard them when they first become partners. I also work with them to create joint value propositions and marketing plans and help them to execute their first two campaigns with us.
Finastra is one of the world’s largest FinTechs, working with over 9,000 customers including 90 of the top 100 banks globally.
How do you typically work with partner marketing teams?
Our partners go through certain stages before they even come to marketing, I will typically be informed by our partner manager that there’s a new partner to onboard. At the same time, I will also learn which business unit they are in and what solution they will sell and in which capacity (reseller, MSP etc). With that, I also receive a list of target accounts that we need to reach.
With all this in hand, we embark on a journey to identify the partners lead generation team, such as the business lead, the marketing lead and digital sales lead. We then start regular calls with the relevant people to work through the value proposition, the marketing plan, and our expectations for the partner and how we will work together, with the help and support of Coterie.
What’s the typical process for devising and executing partner marketing campaigns/programmes?
During onboarding, we dedicate time to train new partners on our solutions and what these can do for them. We also give them access to our partner portal, which has a wealth of resources and toolkits which they can use to create and run their own marketing campaigns. The joint messaging comes directly from the value proposition.
The duration and intensity of this onboarding process differs from partner to partner but should be concluded within 3 months. Many of our partners work really autonomously, so we just have a checkpoint once a month. Others need a lot more support. In these cases, we provide as much support as is required via bi-monthly calls, as well as contributing and helping where we can.
You have a lot of partners – what are the main challenges you face in your role?
In marketing, you can never have enough budget – we know that! But restricted partner budgets in particular are a real challenge, especially where it’s not quite clear to the partner at the very beginning of the lead generation process how much budget they really need. Budget approvals are often dependent on manager approval at any given time and it’s a struggle to get an entire plan funded.
When we start with the onboarding process, we keep the operating rhythm between the teams firmly in check. We make sure there’s always a follow-on call, which is carefully structured so that everybody is clear of activities. One of our challenges is when we pivot after onboarding and ask the partner to lead the campaigns. There’s always a bit of a risk that momentum will be lost due to a lack of focus, so the more we can do to communicate roles and responsibilities beforehand the better the chance that focus is maintained.
Another challenge is a general lack of lead generation capability. Many partners are engaged in social media and create whitepapers and blogs and so on. But lead generation is a different beast. These activities require the right mentality as well as the right persona and knowledge on the partner side to execute. This is often much harder to find.
Moreover, digital sales as a follow on from marketing often don’t exist on the partner side – these roles need to be hired and that takes time. So up until a partner can really create proper lead generation campaigns, Finastra takes the lead, and runs the first two campaigns. This gives the partner time to get organised, see and experience how we work and be able to mirror this in subsequent campaigns.
How do you ensure that partner marketing funds are utilised in the most effective and efficient way?
We make sure that when we ask for a more expensive asset that it can be reused in at least seven different ways. For example, if it’s a research paper with good findings, we may look to create a press release on it, an infographic and reference it in other marketing assets. If it’s a whitepaper, we look to create a video of some of the contributors, an infographic, or a blog or two – there’s lots of different options to milk the asset.
Do you share target account lists with partners?
Yes, we do, but this is carefully managed and just on an account name and location level, and we make sure that everything is GDPR compliant. Before a partner is onboarded, each partner signs up to a target list with us to avoid overlap of region, country, or business line. This helps us stay focussed on whom we need to target.
We also look to be as efficient as possible with target lists. We are very clear on personas and limit these to four key personas for any campaign that we allow to be pushed into an MQL. These contacts will always be chosen because they are key decision makers.
What advice do you have for Partner Marketers?
Be prepared for anything – when partners onboard you never know what the level of sophistication is, what skillsets they have, and so on. This is what makes working with partners so interesting – we get to see what learning and internal processes they have and there is a lot we can learn from each other regardless of what level the partner is at.
Along a similar vein, expect the unexpected – anything can happen at any time! Be as prepared as you can be. You will know in advance the market the partner will be operating in, so take the time to set up regular checkpoints and have several good templates and ideas ready for them if they need it.
Finally, I also recommend ensuring senior management is always aware of partner marketing achievements. It can often be forgotten about – but it’s worth shouting about!
When producing an expensive asset, be sure to come up with several different ways to use the asset to make its value go further.
For joint lead generation activities, be really clear on the target personas (and limit the number to four different personas max).
It may take time for a new partner to be ready internally to run lead generation campaigns. By having the assets and processes in place to run an initial campaign for them, you can keep the momentum going while giving them time to upskill.
Make sure to identify relevant stakeholders in the partner in advance of onboarding, to ensure you have the right people engaged from the start.
At Coterie, we provide support and advice to our clients, working closely with them as an extension of their partner marketing team. Whether you need Value Propositions creating, help with prioritising partners, content optimisation and creation, campaign support and delivering ROI, we can help.