As a former agency owner, I know firsthand the value of building strong partnerships with other agencies.
When you’re able to find other agencies whose strengths complement yours, you can create mutually beneficial partnerships. Good partnerships can lead to new clients, increased referrals, and even expanded service offerings
While this sounds like a dream, you need to know how to find the right partners and the best strategies for getting the most out of them.
In this article, I'll share my experience of the best agency partnership strategies for revenue growth. We will also look into the 3 types of agency partnerships you can have and what they mean.
If you prefer a video format, you can watch it here:
3 Types of Agency Partnerships
Based on my experience as a prior agency owner and later as the founder of Partnerhub, there are mainly three types of agency partnerships you should consider using. These three are:
Co-marketing & co-selling only
To give you a better idea of what these mean, I will go through each one in more detail.
1. Implementation partnerships
Implementation partners are those with whom you have expertise in their product.
Typical examples are Hubspot expert partners, CRM consultants, online marketers, or even mobile app developers. When you do this, you provide a service to the partner in exchange for either money, equity, or even free products.
For implementation partnerships, you can prove your expertise with certifications, case studies, or other evidence
2. Referral-only partnerships
Also called affiliate partnerships, referral-only partnerships are the simplest forms of agency partnerships.
Generally, it means that your partner agrees to refer clients to your agency in exchange for referrals back or sometimes a commission. Referral partnerships can work between two agencies and between a tech company and an agency.
3. Co-marketing & Co-selling partnerships
Often overlooked, co-marketing and co-selling partnership is one of the most valuable. It's where you create opportunities together without referring to or branding yourselves as "partners."
Let’s say you happen to know another agency. You don’t know and trust each other yet, but they have an audience that you want, and you have an audience that they want.
You decide to come together and create something. Both your and their agency brings something valuable to the table, whether it's time, content, or budget.
This way, you can both get in front of each other’s audiences, resulting in more business for both of you.
Before Utilizing Agency Partnerships, Make Sure Your Agency Meets These Conditions
Before you hop on and build partnerships, you should ensure the time is right.
Are your operations streamlined? Agency partnerships come with their own set of challenges, so make sure you have the capacity to manage any extra workload.
Is your team capable of selling services effectively? This is important as you'll need to be able to communicate the value of your services and how they can benefit your partners.
Do you have repeat sales on retainers? If you don’t even sell retainers, it may be hard to package your services alongside products or partnerships.
Would you consider yourself a thought leader and/or subject matter expert in your field? This is essential as you want potential partners to recognize your value and expertise. If you’re just breaking into a new industry, you may still have to develop your expertise.
9 Ways To Use Agency Partnerships For Revenue Growth
Next, let's get into the main subject of this article, which is the best agency partnership strategies for revenue growth
1. Choose The Right Track, And Progress Through
You should never ignore a new idea or partnership that comes your way by just saying, “We’re too busy right now” or “We already have a solution like that.”
If I cold emailed you today and you said, “We can help you sell more services if we work together,” and you replied that you’re just too busy, it would be a waste of potential collaboration.
A better way would be to lay out a track of testing and progress through different levels of agency partnerships if you feel the initial idea has potential.
I think all agencies should try to do this when a potential partnership knocks on the door.
Not all partnerships will end up something huge, but there is always something that can be achieved.
2. Start All Your Partnership Discussions With a Partnership Agreement
Before deciding to partner with another agency or a tech company, list out the following:
Why you align - persona’s, markets, geo.
Where are you going to promote one another? When?
What’s the end goal of the partnership?
And what is that going to take?
By doing this, both parties can come to an agreement on what each side is going to do for one another in order to reach the desired goals.
It will also help you avoid any potential issues or conflict resolution down the line.
3. Productized services
This is a bigger strategy that agency owners can adopt.
The strategy of productizing services allows your sales team to easily sell the first project because there is no need for scoping and custom RFPs.
Further, with regards to partnerships strategy, when you have a landing page on your website with a price to implement a solution (i.e., "HubSpot CRM implementation"), it enables the customer success and sales teams at those tech companies an easy way to refer your business.
4. Always start with a collaboration
This goes back to the point of not closing a door for a potential partner.
Too many partnerships are started with the ask, “What can you do for me?” When a true partnership should start with the question, “What can we do for each other?”
You can start with small things, such as:
Create content together. For example, this article you’re reading is a collaboration between QuickMail and Partnerhub. I promised to write this article for QuickMail, and in exchange, they promised me back equally valuable things.
Host webinars together. Webinars can be a great way to expose each other’s audience and knowledge.
Cross-promote each other’s products and services. Ask your partner if you can feature them in your email campaigns or if they’re open to being a sponsor for an event.
The first step of a partnership doesn’t have to be anything mind-boggling, small things like these work great.
5. Create a Course With Multiple Partners (My Favorite)
One of my favorite agency partnership strategies is creating a course together.
Let's say you want to bring in business related to a specific industry or a product. Despite having knowledge in that field, you lack an audience. To solve this, you can find a tech company or agency in that industry to partner with.
They can help you market your course in exchange for visibility in it.
Here's how you can implement it:
Write up a general outline for the course. You should have a general outline of your course in place so that you can present it to potential partners.
Involve tech partners in a class. Your course may be about cold outreach, and there will always be tech companies such as QuickMail that need to power that. Include these companies in the classes in exchange for visibility.
Ask your partners to help market the course. In exchange for featuring your partners in the course, you can ask them to help market the course. This can happen in social media, newsletters, or even in the onboarding process.
Provide free seats to users of your tech partners. If you feature a tech partner in your course, you can provide some free seats to their users. This will incentivize them to promote the course and be an active part of it.
Create a co-marketing agenda. This can include cross-promoting each other's content, promoting the course on social media, and publishing content together.
When these things are aligned, you can launch the course, and you will be more likely to make it a success.
6. Make Your Own Event Pages
If you are part of a co-marketing event with a partner, IF you are going to promote it, instead of driving your newsletter subscribers and social media followers to their event page, create your own, with your own opt-in form, and drive the traffic there. This will ensure higher ROI from that event.
Although creating your own event pages isn't always a great idea, under the right circumstances, they can bring much higher returns as you gain:
New subscribers for your email list
A higher level of thought leadership than if you were seen as a quest
7. Make Use Of Partners For Sales And Marketing Assets
If you’re spending your time, money, and resources to create assets for your partners, you’re just wasting your own time.
Instead, ask for them to provide you with sales and marketing assets.
My best tech clients have un-branded resource folders their partners can grab, add their logo, and start using in their services pitch.
Salesforce has an interesting Brand Central page that everyone can take inspiration from. You could create a similar page for your partners, detailing how they should position yourself, your logo, colors, and typography.
Or, as Smith.ai has, you can create a Google Sheet detailing the sales assets that your partners should know about.
8. Perform Account Mapping Analysis
Account mapping is the process of seeing overlapping data (leads and customers) in your CRM or a spreadsheet.
It's a great way to get immediate referrals from a new partner. However, it's challenging to do with new partnerships because you don't know each other well enough to make a referral.
So, I suggest using this process to set the initial value of your potential partnership - as in, if we have 5 overlapping customers and 20 overlapping leads, there is potential there... If we have zero overlapping customers or leads, there's little potential for a good partnership because we're either brand new as a business or we are not targeting the same ICP.
Further, you can use this overlap as the baseline for future attribution of campaigns. i.e., If we have 10 overlapping customers/leads before we co-market, then we do an event or an article, and all of a sudden, we see that number grow to 15... Well, it's clearly working.
9. Sales Navigator Alerts
Set up alerts in Sales Navigator for when one of your partners:
1. Was mentioned in an article that was shared or published on LinkedIn.
2. Their company grew.
3. Made a career change.
4. Featured in the news.
The reason you should do this is that partnerships are always two-way. You need to be active, and they have to be active if you want ROI from the relationship.
The simplest things, such as congratulating the partner on LinkedIn, make the partnership seem more important to you. Plus, LinkedIn is a good place for partners to learn about you.
A successful agency partnership requires both sides to be willing to contribute. Take the time to set expectations, create a co-marketing plan and understand each party’s goals. To find partners for your agency, don't forget to take advantage of ParnetHub's large network of pre-vetted agencies and tech companies.
Once it comes time to send out the actual emails, QuickMail can help.