Unlock the Secrets of Partner Marketing with Jared Fuller

For this episode of Essential B2B, Joe was joined by Jared Fuller, Co-Founder and CEO of PartnerHacker. Jared brought HUGE energy to the conversation all around partner marketing, including Jared's notion of Nearbound, which is absolutely something to take notice of!

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Hello and welcome to the Essential B2B podcast brought to as ever by Lead Forensics. I am your host, Joe Ducarreaux. This episode is the audio taken from we ran recently called Unlock the Secret of Partner Marketing.

For this I was joined by Jared Fuller from PartnerHacker who brought huge energy and a lot of actionable tips and tricks to make sure you are making the most of your partner marketing.

So without further ado, here is Jared Fuller on Unlocking the Secrets of Partner Marketing.

Joe: What are the key benefits of partner marketing and how can it help businesses to boost their sales and revenue?

Jared: Well if you think about it you have your database, so a marketing person’s home, they have their website and they have their marketing automation database and that has a finite number of things. So what do you do? You go to other places! You don’t only market to your database, you are trying to grow your database.

So there is this concept I like to use that Jay McBain, formerly of Forrester now at Canalys, talks about. He calls them watering holes. Watering holes are these gathering places where people that are like each other, gather. So if you think about this, there are some very easy things to unpack here. There are communities, there are big ecosystem leaders like let’s say a Salesforce and a Dreamforce, there’s a Hubspot and an Inbound.

So there are these events, these gatherings, these communities, these places where these people live. Why is that important? I think we’ve really screwed up marketing and I mean really screwed it up, bad! So what’s the first part of marketing? It’s a market! What about anything in your martech stack has anything to do with the market? What I am talking about is the market. I am talking about where people live, what they think, what they associate with because what has happened in the world to marketing is that we have stopped thinking about the market first and then how do we apply ourselves. We think about ourselves first and then the market.

Let me give you a perfect example. When we do our campaign planning, where do we start? We don’t start in the market, we start with us. That’s a big problem because what does it do? It puts our world view through the lens of we’ve got to go and get more leads. What do we do? We go to Google, we go to Facebook, we go to Linkedin and we serve up ads versus thinking it about the other way, where are my buyers?

If you think about it through that lens it will start to really screw with you. You are like wait a second all of these vendors, the big dogs, are taking my ad dollars thinking that’s going to be how I’m going to do it or even content, SEO. That’s Google money! Google is monetizing that whether or not you think they’re monetizing that. But here’s the problem, Joe, I want every marketer to take a long hard look in the mirror and think to themselves “when was the last time I Googled how do I solve marketing automation?” or let’s lead attribution. Guess what, you don’t. You know what you do? You don’t ask how to I? questions anymore, you ask who do I? Who do I know that solved this?

The average American receives 400 to 10,000 advertisements per day. We are awash with dated information. The economy, the markets, they’ve told all of this. The reason why I had to go on that little diatribe to really make sure you understand that I am not pitching you anything right now. This is the reality, it’s a macro shift, it’s affecting everything. The marketing playbook that starts with marketing automation and all those things…..no, no, no! What you need to do is go and look at not my database, it’s the market.

What does that mean? Well, who is influential in that market? Who do my buyers trust? Because it’s not me, they don’t know me. That’s the whole point, they are not our customers, so who do they trust? That is partner marketing. To try and solve some debate about lead attribution this, or this thing that. It doesn’t matter if your buyers are trusting people…..the way I buy software is this. We were just talking right before this call, you want me to prove this to you right now, Joe? In 30 seconds. What happened right before we came on here?

Joe: We had all manner of technical difficulties connecting, didn’t we Jared?

Jared: We totally did and what happened next? I said hey folks you totally need to switch software and you need to do this. I’m going to make an introduction for you, go and talk to him. And guess what’s going to happen? I don’t control your company so that’s not what this is all about. But there is a greater likelihood that you end up purchasing that software than probably any other vendor. Because what do I do? I own a media company, I host lots of events, I am someone you can trust on this subject matter.

So through that lens all of a sudden everything starts to change about how you think about marketing. Now there’s data, there’s operations, there’s so many things to unpack behind that. But that framing is I believe is absolutely essential for you thinking not like a Chief Marketing Officer but like a Chief Market Officer. Where do my buyers live and who do they trust and it would just be dumb to do any content, any campaign, any event that does not involve people that they already trust.

For example, me coming here today, I’m here because I care about this topic tremendously, in partnerships. But I live in partnerships, I have a community, I have a media company, I work with everyone, I do partnerships all the time. So why should you take my opinion on it? Because I live in that market. I live there, that’s my community.

Now here’s the problem. Let’s say you sell to CIOs. How many people on your marketing team have ever been CIOs?

Joe: It’s a point well proved. Not a whole lot of them.

Jared: So how could you possibly create content experiences and trust as a brand that people would go, you know what I just really love this 3 year out of college content marketer that’s using Jasper.ai to spit out SEO algorithmic drivel, I really love them! What they want, they want to get to a better place. That’s what you buyers want. They are trying to become a better CIO. Trust comes from helping people reach their promiseland. I promise you that content marketer cannot help that CIO, at all. Who can though? It’s the partners, it’s the communities, it’s where they live and you need to market with those people.

What people want, who they buy from, who they trust is people who have been to the places they want to go. That is partner marketing.

Joe: So what you did in essence there Jared in microcosm, is almost the motto of the podcasts and webinars I do for Lead Forensics and that has become people buy from people. As you quite rightly said, I know you mentioned a particular product and suggested oh you guys need to go and have a look at this. I know for a fact we will definitely be going and taking a look at that because of ……. it was a very quick relationship that we established but….

Jared: There are other relationships in the company too. I am close with your Head of Partnerships, Chris. He’s been following PartnerHacker, he’s contributed articles. There’s a relationship there where it’s a knowledge relationship. As a business we had a relationship, we just met real quick but it’s Okay cool. This is an interesting place versus you going and Googling X company software and looking at review sites.

Review sites! That’s a common thing. When was the last time you saw a review that wasn’t 4.7 stars? All games, get gamed, right! If it’s 4.8 stars it must be faked, if it’s 4.6 stars it must be garbage. That’s the median review of every single product online, we know that people take things down. All games, get gamed! We don’t trust those things anymore. I loved review sites in previous purchase cycles but now I don’t trust it at all. It’s like table stakes. If you see the review stars and it’s a two, you’re like ‘shoot I’m out’. It’s because clearly that business has no idea what they are doing. So it’s only about the bottom 10% that get taken out, everyone else plays the game.

Joe: Absolutely! You mentioned it as the watering hole, all different communities and people in the same space. How do you go about identifying which of those people at the water hole are going to be a good fit for partners for your business?

Jared: The point of the watering hole is that is where your marketing should live. What do I mean by that? You should be marketing with people who live in those spaces right there, that are trusted members.

This is why I like the concept of what I call the nearbound. You have inbound, you have outbound and you have nearbound. It’s very simple and one third of your pipeline should come from each. It’s a super simple concept.

Partner marketing, I’d actually almost reframe this, I think we need something like this to look at it a little bit differently. Nearbound is marketing with the market, the people that already have relationships in the market. So outbound is to target the market, outbound aggressive. Inbound is to attract the market. Nearbound is to surround the market.

My concept of the watering hole is we are going to surround that watering hole. What we are going to do is publish content where we interview lets say top thought leaders that live in those watering holes but it is not enough to have just that, they need to have some tie in to the industry, the business. So for example, let’s say CEO’s of a service partner or executives at another integration technology company.

What you are doing is looking at your entire campaign planning. So like, from Soup to Nuts. Anything that you are producing that has content that is designed to bring people to you, you need to ask the question where are my buyers for this piece and then who do my buyers trust that is related to this piece and you can do so many things with that. Let’s say a virtual event, you can hold a virtual event and it would be really, really, really dumb to ever host a virtual event that is about only your brand. Guess what you can do with a virtual event that is only about your brand? You can only market to that database that you already have, or you have to pay for ads somewhere else, or you write social content on social media which you are only going to reach the followers that you have already.

What you are trying to do then is how can I make an event that is about our point of view on the industry? Hopefully your product solves something more than the features and the bugs, you are trying to help people get to a better place. So what other companies have a similar point of view on that better place? With that in mind you want to go and look at okay what are the other accounts? and as partners, you are going to host that event together. All of a sudden what happens? You have 3, 5, 10, 20 partners, now how many databases are you marketing to?

I’m not really smart but I think that ten databases are better than one.

Joe: I’d say so, I think I would agree with you on that one, Jared, to be fair.

Jared: I am talking some real talk because I’ve been doing this for a long time. When I say a long time, I started my first marketing agency in 2009. So, we’re looking at 14 years. I’ve seen no marketing automation to 11,000 marketing technologies companies, in the center of all of it; as a software vendor and a marketing leader, as an agency and as a partner ecosystem executive. In that time, what I’ve realized is that we are thinking about things the wrong way. I’ve grown so tired of tired sales and marketing debates, they are the same as they always were.

That was my tangent away from the question around pipeline and that’s the problem. We start to talk about pipeline immediately without understanding that to create pipeline we have to do the things before pipeline. Which is exactly what I am talking about. So if you go and do those things and you create a decent virtual event, do it with five partners and you really help your buyers with people that they trust with things that they need to know to get to that place. Guess what’s going to happen, you are going to drive pipeline.

I can prove it to you. I’ll drop the hammer on this one too. So marketing team, here’s what I want you to do, here’s how I’m going to prove to you unequivocally that this is by far….. nearbound marketing is unequivocally your best channel. What you are going to do is go to your sign up pages, your conversion pages, and suspend disbelief for me for just one second, you are going to put a box in at the end that is open field……its dirty, it’s not not a drop down, it’s not a pick/select, its dirty freaking data…. And you are going to say “How did you hear about us?” And you’re going to look at that over a week and it’s going to blow your mind.

How do I know this? I’ve been doing it for a decent chunk of time, in the past two weeks I just looked at a report for Reveal. So we are a nearbound platform that associates data between these companies. Those ten databases you can measure the overlap. But now what we do just on our form we ask How did you hear about us? I looked at 250 responses, 250 responses from people who signed up for our app in the past week. Guess what? Every single one of how did you hear about us? …..was one of two things. It was a person or a company.

Joe: There you go!

Jared: It wasn’t a Google ad, it wasn’t an email, it wasn’t an ebook. It was a person or a company.

Joe: That just proves it doesn’t it? It really, really does.

Jared: By all means, if you think that I am wrong go and do it. Sure maybe you will get some people say it was a Linkedin campaign or something, I don’t know. But why would you object to reality? My CMO and I did this as a point. PartnerHacker was acquired by Reveal, a media company. I sit across sales partnership success, my co-founder sits across sales and marketing, ops and tech and product. One of the things we said we wanted to do immediately at Reveal was kill our ad budget. It was really strange, we want to kill our ad budget? I said this is garbage money, I know this doesn’t work. They didn’t believe it didn’t work. I said we can’t measure any of this, the attribution is broken. I know Google is telling us, Linkedin is telling us but let’s go and do this. Showed the results and our team was like yes clearly kill those ads and it’s not going to kill traffic or sign ups. And guess what? It didn’t.

Joe: So what are the key metrics that you do track then, when you are looking at the performance of your partner marketing campaigns?

Jared: It’s the same things that you are always doing in terms of what you are looking at in B2B SaaS or B2B Tech. If you want to understand revenue from the perspective of a CRO or a CMO, it’s very simple. Its productivity per rep. It’s the amount of headcount I have and how productive they can be. So you work backwards from the sales maths, how many accounts, how many meetings, how many opportunities and then you go to the marketing side and that becomes a very similar thing. Which is how many accounts are we sending that are ready for sales, that have some intent or some signal.

So if you look at say an individual webinar campaign and you begin developing a relationship with those people. So you’ve got 400 leads for a little virtual event you do from some partners. 400 leads is not enough. You need to translate X amount of those into sign-ups or meetings, some signal that’s beyond that… we could call it a partner-qualified marketing lead. It’s not quite ready for sales but there’s something there. What can get really interesting is what you do after that. A virtual event or a content piece, for example. You might publish a piece on X or Y but instead of publishing that piece like this is an Acme Co. blog post. We interviewed the five top people on this X. What you do is call them out and make them famous. So that blog post is not written by your team, it’s written by five people and you put their names in the byline and authorship. Then your team creates social snippets for those five people to share their highlights, make them look really good, make it easy for them.

Here’s an example of good partner marketing. You have this webinar and you want to get some highlights and summaries from the people who spoke, that are partners. Then you do exactly what I just said, take some of the hottest hitting things that they said, package it up into a social post, get them to share it and push that out and then push that back to you. At the end of the day you are still measuring what? You are still measuring leads that end up becoming signups or demos requests or anything like that. It’s still the same measurement. The difference is how you do it is what matters. We’re not saying go and change how you measure things, of course you need to measure the conversion points. The thing that gets broken is attribution because attribution gives us a……….there’s a great first principle that says the map is not the territory. We are so abstracted away whenever we are looking at attribution that we can’t see anything. It’s like seeing 2400 vision! Everything that is 20 feet away looks like it’s 400 feet away.

What I gave you, you’re like Jared that sounds so tactical. I’m trying to figure out this strategy. That’s my point. Marketing is what I just talked about. Anyone listening to this today by all means you think I am full of it. Tell me why that’s not great marketing? That’s great marketing. That unequivocally great marketing. Give me a better example.

Joe: The gauntlet has been thrown down! Anybody can get in touch with you to say yes, no, maybe.

Jared: Absolutely! What you do after that though is really important. We have two software companies right here, we have Lead Forensics and Reveal. There’s actually a complimentary story and this isn’t a product pitch but how you go about that afterwards.

Let’s say you drove more social engagement which created more consumption. What I am advocating to do with partner marketing is that your sales organization and your partner organization… your partner organization has relationships with those five people, those five companies you did this event with. Guess what your sales team never had? They’ve never had access to those five companies’ databases and you don’t necessarily have the contacts yet but you have the signal; this account attended this thing with these five partners and guess what you can start to do? You can start to market, so get Lead Forensics start to market to those contacts. Maybe that’s where the applicability of things like ads and more specific targeting, end up becoming okay here’s some air cover and some more light product marketing or helpful content. The sales team can then start doing their outbounds to those people and all of a sudden you are able to start talking to those partners, so the sellers can go ‘hey, I saw that such and such came to our event. I’ve been emailing such and such, (maybe it’s an integration partner of yours, just for example). I was curious if in your next meeting you could put this slide about us and us work better together for the customer’.

Everything I am talking about is this watering hole of this same subset of accounts that we’re all going after. We’ve had marketing doing an event with partnerships, we had social engagement by flipping content that came out of that, that makes them look good so they will post it on their channels. Then we had the sales team targeting those accounts with more contact data that we didn’t have before the event yet because they haven’t signed up. Then you have the partner team facilitating relationships with both sales orgs to get in contact with that person. Do you get what I mean when I say nearbound equals surround?

Joe: Yeah, I’ve got you. You’ve demonstrated it perfectly.

Jared: That’s the strategy and that’s what’s going to drive pipeline. So it’s not throwing away the data, it’s not stopping all marketing, it’s any activity …..that’s what we are talking about, the activities have to change to the things that we were just discussing here, Joe.

Joe: So what you’ve done Jared, quite wonderfully, is given a lot of tips and tricks and things to go away and do. Are there any mistakes in your 14 years of doing this that you keep seeing again and again and again? Are there any command mistakes when it comes to partner marketing, at all?

Jared: Absolutely. What I just gave you is the end state. It’s simple and it’s not too complex to do. I think the biggest mistake people make in partner marketing is they think it’s about putting their product narrative, their features, their values front and centre out in front of that partner. So what do I mean by that? What I mean by that is what they are doing they’re going to their partners and they are saying hey partner here is our one pager on our product. Here is our joint value proposition on X. Partner marketing is not putting your information, your product marketing in front of your partners and expecting them to distribute it to their audience. I think that’s the most common mistake.

Which is why most marketing leaders when they hear the phrase partner marketing, they’re not necessarily too hot on it. Because what ends up happening is the partner team is hey lets do partner marketing. They are thinking about campaigns, joint events like joint blog posts, joint social media campaigns, maybe from the partner’s side. But historically, partner marketing has been hey lets send the information about us to our partners and they are going to market to their audience. Or TCMA, which is Through Channel Marketing Automation, it’s built for a literal channel. Another company is literally selling your product. So you are giving them the power to market to a database. That’s not part of marketing. No modern company that is not in a true channel is going to distribute your information to their database.

Joe: It’s fantastic stuff you’ve brought to us there Jared. You’ve really shown some excellent expertise and advice our viewers can take away and implement themselves, particularly with your nearbound marketing. That’s fascinating!

Just to finish up, what’s the absolute golden rule, if people are going to take away one thing from our conversation here today Jared, what would that absolute golden rule be?

Jared: In 2006, there was a mathematician named Clive Humby and Clive famously coined a phrase that is so true – it’s probably why anyone listening to this today has jobs today. That phrase was data is the new oil. Clive was right, data was the new oil. Just look at all of the technology companies and Lead Forensics here. Data will never go away, its importance will always be there.

Now we are in a different phase of maturity and in that different phase of maturity where everyone is overwhelmed with information, trust is the new data. So if trust is the new data, meaning not ‘how’ questions, but ‘who’ questions. I wrote this piece called Trust is the New Data; It’s the Manifesto, it’s been read tens of thousands of times, probably my best piece from last year. If trust is the new data, then where does trust come from? Well, trust comes from helping people reach their promised land and people buy from people who have been to the places they want to go. With that in mind, if you are not already thinking that way, that should change everything about how you’re building a brand and how your market. You live in market, you don’t go to market.

Joe: I love that. Trust is the new data. That’s fantastic. Jared Fuller thank you so much for joining us for this conversation all about partner marketing.

Jared: Of course.

Well there we go, Jared Fuller on partner marketing. I hugely enjoyed that conversation. Here are our key takeaways:

To succeed in partner marketing, companies need to focus on building strong relationships with partners. Understanding their needs and goals and providing value to their audiences.

Jared introduced me to the concept of nearbound marketing, which is a partner marketing strategy involving targeting a specific group of customers who are most likely to buy from your company and then surrounding them with a series of touchpoints that help build trust and familiarity with your brand. Remembering the watering hole analogy that Jared gave.

To execute nearbound marketing effectively, focus on creating high-quality content that resonates with your target audience. You can leverage your partner’s channels to amplify that message.

As Jared said, trust is the new data in marketing and building trust with your partners and their customers is essential for success.

Thank you again to Jared for joining me and thank you for listening. Remember to subscribe to the Essential B2B podcast where you get your podcasts and rate us 5 stars where possible. We’ll be back next week with another brilliant Essential B2B podcast.