Last week, I had the privilege of co-hosting a dinner that brought together various titled, partner marketers from Workday, Dell, Salesforce, Microsoft, and Lookout to share their insights about managing partnerships and marketing strategies. The event was an eye-opener, highlighting both the challenges and successes experienced by all these companies, big and small. Here’s a summary of the key takeaways from the evening. 

Partner marketers wear #somanyhats 

One of the recurring themes of the discussion was the challenge of being resource-strapped and wearing many hats as a partner marketer. Attendees shared their struggles in effectively connecting with their audience throughout the customer journey due to being pulled in so many directions, including getting their partners to engage consistently. 

Internally, there seems to be a significant disconnect between corporate (brand) marketing in terms of what partner marketing truly does, adding to the stack of hats. I mean do I really have to “sell the story” of why our partner ecosystem allows us to grow exponentially? Unfortunately, yes, as the partner organization of many companies are still finding their way and must justify budget and align the ROI. 

All aboard!

No matter the organization, every company aligns when it comes to assigning a dedicated manager or team to manage and promote their top strategic partnerships.  

But what about the next tier of partners that you want assisting in your growth? How can we bring the next 100 to 1,000 partners up and get them engaged? This has proven to be a daunting task.  

The hot take here was the ability to offer scalable programs “in a box” that can be customized to meet each partner’s needs and align with the joint solution’s market approach. Tailoring strategies to each partner ensures the partnership feels unique and valued, enhancing overall engagement and success. Box checked! 

I want to hold your hand (or do I?) 

Again, getting partners to engage consistently was a pain point felt by all the attendees, no matter the partner team they sat within – GSI, Cloud, MSP, ISV, you name the partner acronym. The need for significant, unscalable handholding often leads to disjointed actions in the market, making it difficult to track the return on investment (ROI) effectively, or accurately measure success.  

Attendees emphasized that marketing to partners is just as important as marketing to prospects. The key here is to have an agreed-upon plan between the partners and work with an agency vendor that can manage the touch points along the customer journey. Knowing that the path to purchase isn’t always linear requires a strategic approach that allows the audience to engage with relevant content and activity wherever they are on their journey. 

Better together: the recipe for partner marketing wins

Despite the challenges, there were several success stories that highlighted effective strategies in partner marketing. Agency vendors that could deliver end-to-end solutions, whether on a one-to-one basis or for a few, were particularly praised. These vendors excelled in campaign management and could scale their efforts to assist many partners, proving to be invaluable. 

Creating content and telling a cohesive “better together” or ecosystem story, was another successful strategy. This approach not only enhances the go-to-market story but also fostered trust and collaboration among partners. Further, a strong emphasis was placed on telling the brand story effectively. They agreed that if customers know and trust the brand, the journey down funnel will naturally follow, regardless of the specific product, solution, or vertical involved. 

Land Ho! 

The dinner was a rich source of insights, providing a blend of challenges and proven strategies for success. It’s clear that while resource constraints and internal alignment issues persist, there are effective ways to overcome these obstacles. Companies can navigate the complexities of partner marketing more effectively by focusing on three things: 

  • Storytelling 
  • Scalable solutions 
  • Customized approaches 

As we move forward, these insights will undoubtedly help us refine our strategies and foster stronger, more productive partnerships.  

So, as the birds of a feather huddled in the nest, the consensus was to continue sharing our experiences and learn from each other to drive mutual success in the ever-evolving landscape of partner marketing.


We will be hosting upcoming dinner discussions in San Francisco, Denver and New York City later this year, with gatherings designed to provide true value and share lessons learned to the partner marketing community. If you would like to be a part of these discussions and share your challenges and successes, I invite you to reserve a seat at our next dinner by reaching out to me,