Best practices for managing joint marketing

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Crimson Consulting Group recently conducted extensive research into best practices in alliances and joint marketing by interviewing more than 60 individuals from a variety of vendors worldwide including BMC, BEA, Computer Associates, CGE&Y, Cisco, EDS, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP. Following are eight best practices based on this research.

1) Select preferred partners for fewer, yet deeper, initiatives.

Often, vendors are unwilling to choose a preferred partner for a specific solution because they wish to remain agnostic. However, this approach precludes a strong joint solution with any one partner.

2) Joint marketing should be a key component of any alliance relationship, not an afterthought.

If at all possible, vendors should build joint marketing commitments into the alliance contract. If the partners make a commitment upfront, they can concentrate on how to best spend the dollars.

3) Educate and sell the relationship internally.

Often, partners announce an alliance without spelling out the specifics of the arrangement to all stakeholders. Yet, the greater the stakeholders' understanding of the value of the alliance, the more they can contribute to its success.

4) Follow a clearly defined execution framework.

This framework defines the steps in choosing a partner, building an alliance, marketing it jointly and measuring progress.

Assess the opportunities and determine those with the greatest revenue potential. Determine the target industry solution you wish to offer, regardless of the eventual partner(s) you choose. Choose the partner(s) that will enable you to create a complete solution. Define the Unique Value Proposition that you and your partner(s) offer. Develop a plan to describe the details of your relationship. Assign responsibilities with due dates to individuals. Execute against the plan. Incorporate feedback.

5) Create solution messaging and avoid technology-based messages.

Today's market no longer tolerates technology-based messages. Corporate buyers of all types require solution-based messaging from alliances. Buyers benefit from a single message about a solution that addresses a key business problem, supported in a credible manner.

6) Bring references, unique product benefits and leads to joint solution initiatives.

The solution messaging should emphasize each vendor's unique value-add to the solution (experience, performance, references and so on). Most important, bring leads or the alliance will not survive.

7) Build integrated, sustained programs to generate market traction.

Alliance marketing programs cannot be one-offs. They must be part of an integrated set of activities.

8) Proactively propose partnerships and campaign ideas.

The best companies bring complete, well-constructed concepts to their prospective partners, lining up messages, creative, events and resources in advance.

Glenn Gow is CEO and founding partner of Crimson Consulting Group. He can be reached at

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