Top 3 Partner Marketing Challenges and How to Solve for Them

August 7, 2022 - Ben Wright

For many businesses, partnerships are starting to become a core component of how they go to market.

One of the areas in which partnership professionals are constantly challenged is in the area of partnership marketing.

There are probably people reading this blog post that are thinking "What's the difference between partnership marketing and normal marketing?.

Surely any marketing can produce content and resources for the partnership team?

As we are going to detail in this blog post there exists a distinct difference between the two.

For starters, In traditional marketing the core focus of the content and messaging is transactional.

What I mean by that is that the core outcome for any traditional marketing activity is leads and revenue for the business.

Partnership marketing differs dramatically as the central focus is actually the promotion of a joint value statement.

What you are trying to achieve is understanding from both your internal teams, and external customers, about the way in which your partnership brings both companies value.

A better way to explain this is, partnership marketing content should tell the "Us + Them = better experience for your customers story".

So after showing above how partner marketing differs, what are the main challenges that are facing partner managers as they look to create marketing resources in support of their partners.

Let's dive in,

  1. Lack of partnership experience in marketing teams

As mentioned above, partnership marketing differs greatly from traditional marketing.

Most marketers build careers in the traditional marketing arena, meaning that they are very good at the transactional types of marketing mentioned above.

In short, transactional marketing activities are all tied to bringing in warm leads, for oyur sales people to close, and this is an extremely different motion that what we are looking for with partnerships.

In partnership marketing, the content you are creating should all be directed at "mutual value".

The mutual value you are trying to describe is based around how your company + your partners company combines to make the lives of both your customers better.

The other knowledge gap that often exists with traditional marketers, is the type of assets that need to be created.

There are some similarities or crossover, however there is a more central focus on assets like battle cards for your internal teams, video content which describes partner value and partner specific case studies.

This lack of experience can lead to frustration from both your central marketing resource and the partnership team themselves as the lack of understanding means multiple cycles and content edits before getting to something that is usable.

  1. Partnership resources are deprioritized

Oftentimes as a partnership manager, especially as someone who is managing a smaller program, or is starting a program from the ground up, you are borrowing resources from your central marketing team.

This resource sharing can cause a number of issues, but perhaps most frustratingly, your resources are put into a backlog behind the direct side of the business.

This deprioritization can lead to extended wait times for any resources being created, which create a feeling amongst your partners of feeling undervalued, especially if you have promised certain things to them such as a joint case study or even a simple listing in your app marketplace.

The core component of any good partnership is trust.

And in a scenario where you either cannot get resources created, because your central team are to busy or alternatively.the wait times are so long that you are constantly letting partners down, this is the one of the quickest ways to erode that trust and leave your partner's feeling like you don't care.

Businesses oftentimes will wait and see a significant increase in revenue before investing in a specific partner marketing resource, however this is almost a catch 22, as for partnership programs to find success there needs to be an emphasis or focus on partnership marketing material.

  1. Partnership marketing managers are overwhelmed

The above challenge I detailed was focussed around the scenario where you are borrowing from a centralized marketing team and some of the issues that tend to arise when this happens.

But what happens if your program has reached a certain level of maturity and you have finally been given the budget to go and recruit a partner marketing manager?

Problem solved right?


For you to get the budget to hire a partner marketing manager it probably means you have some scale to your program.

With scale, the number of partners increases.

When the number of partners increases, the amount of resources required increases also.

This means that the dedicated partner marketing manager has months worth of resource creation ahead of them, which can lead to them being overworked and overwhelmed.

Once this list starts to grow, one of two things happen.

Firstly, resources are created slowly, which leads to unhappy partners.

Secondly, the partnership marketing manager is trying to do so much that the output is of low quality, which results in, yes you guessed it, unhappy partners.

So what are you supposed to do?

The scenarios above are all going to lead to issues for your partnership program, so what do you do to prevent them from happening?

One way is to outsource your partner marketing to an agency.

At PartnerFuel we have created an agency to support partner teams of all sizes in creating high quality, relevant content in a reasonable time.

Our services range from video content to optimized battle cards and case studies.

We have been in the business of partnerships for years, we know what to highlight, and what stories to tell to help both you and your partners succeed and deliver benefits to your customers.

If you are currently experiencing any of the challenges outlined above, drop us an email, we would love to chat about how we can help you.