Making the most of supplier partners

When it comes to partner marketing, the opportunities for working together and implementing joint marketing plans are endless, but making the most of those relationships is key. The team at Coterie Marketing have had lots of experience of working with vendors and resellers, so here are our top tips for making the most of your supplier partners.

1. Understand your partner’s business:
It goes without saying that you should take time to really understand your supplier partner’s business. It’s true that you may only be interested in a small section of their products or services, but by making sure you understand the bigger picture, you may discover more opportunities than you first thought.

2. Know your key contacts:
Even though you’re focused on marketing, there will be other contacts and departments that you’ll need to know and can help you as you develop joint plans. Take the time to find out how you need to connect with and make sure they are aware of your role and how you can help them.

3. Know your partner’s strategy and objectives:
As well as understanding your supplier partners’ products and services, it’s essential to find out as much as you can about the company’s strategy and objectives. Their plans for the future may have an impact on your own proposition and may influence the way that you think.

4. Understand their marketing strategy and value propositions:
Before you can propose a joint marketing plan, it’s essential to know what your supplier partners have planned. Find out about their short-term and long-term marketing strategy so you fully understand where they are focusing their resources and see how your strategy compares. Also gain a clear understanding of their value propositions so you’re fully aware of their position in the marketplace.

5. Gain access to partner portals:
Most vendor partners have online partner portals providing resellers with access to information and materials. It’s definitely worth signing up for these so you have access to everything you may need.

6. Understand funding policies:
The majority of supplier partners offer Marketing Development Funds (MDF) to contribute towards activity that helps resell their products. But different suppliers operate different funding policies so it’s important to be clear on where they all stand. Some suppliers operate a set percentage contribution for all activities whereas others may vary depending on activity type.

7. Use a tracker document to manage joint activities:
Working with many different supplier partners and managing multiple joint plans can be a bit of a minefield. A simple solution, but a really effective one, is the use of a tracker document or even a collaboration tool like Sharepoint or Huddle. By collating all of your agreed activities and actions in one place, you’ll always have a clear view of what needs to be done and when, and the status of everything.

8. Arrange frequent catch-up meetings:
Communication is key to successful partnerships so make sure you catch-up and speak regularly. Use your tracker document as a focal point for a weekly or bi-weekly review meeting to keep up-to-date on the status of everything and keep the plan on track.

9. Be open and honest:
Last, but by no means least…always be open and honest. Don’t try to cover over the cracks if projects get delayed or encounter issues. Honesty is always the best policy!

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