The pandemic and shutdowns in 2020 and beyond spurred changes in tech companies’ relationships with their partners. Increasingly, software and manufacturers are shifting expectations of partner marketing, co-marketing, and channel marketing, especially concerning their partner metrics strategies.   

With the great resignation, employees naming their price, and the increase on marketing to do more with less, even the manufacturer partners have started changing their approach to how funding is earned and allocated. Enter: proposal-based funding as the new wave of co-marketing.

This new approach requires the VAR/Reseller to create a detailed proposal requesting the finances to complete a project and a complete marketing plan, budget, and timeline needed to get the job done. What’s more, these proposals typically are longer-term initiatives revolving around proof of performance “PoP” benchmarks that are not revenue-based and sometimes required your entire contact database to be provided in return.  

It’s Been Said; “Change is Constant” 

Partner-driven engagements are becoming a thing of the past; buckets of funding that the Reseller/VAR community gets to spend as they see fit are falling by the wayside.  

Joint partnerships are no longer about the manufacturers telling resell partners what to do; the proverbial activity list of campaigns-in-a-box menu is gone. Instead, the reseller partner community must submit proposals to their manufacturer reps describing a project and requesting JMF funding for its completion. Proposals like these ensure the reseller's and partner’s goals overlap, and the demonstration of return on investment is growing.  

In other words, modern joint marketing partnerships are proposal-led rather than activity-led.  

Partner marketing or co-marketing partnerships have shifted from revenue-based funding by sales attainment to proposal-based plans, with the manufacturer marketing funds going to the best proposal with the best promise of return.  

Recently, manufacturers have started moving away from focusing on volume and margin to thinking about how they can improve services and support for their partners. This new way of thinking offers more flexibility and care, demonstrating the manufacturers' interest in fostering a long-term commitment to their reseller community.

While the proposal-based approach is time-consuming for resellers, at MarketDesign,  we believe it’s welcomed. This is a big step in the right direction. Moving the investment on manufacturer marketing and channel support away from a laundry list of $5K tasks that anyone can use (ahem, insert logo here) ; give the resellers some latitude and creativity to get more of the market funding share and be rewarded for their marketing prowess. 

Now, partners that couldn’t compete based on traditional certifications of partner tiers can offer compelling proposals for consideration. This new model may also change the relationship between manufacturers and their partners into one closely resembling, rather than channel marketing.  

“Partnering as a whole, and the partner marketing teams that support it, are recognized as vital to many tech organizations’ go-to-market strategy–they’ve become essential to growth. As a result, we see many channel partner marketing managers and teams investing more to help (reseller) partners succeed,” said Fiona O'Connor, Content Marketing Manager for TechTarget.  

JMF Proposal-Based Plans + Proof of Performance (PoP)

Proposal-based plans include more stringent proof of performance (PoP) guidelines. Modern Joint Partner Marketing agreements require partners to create parameters to measure the success of their proposals. As mentioned, these evidence-based success criteria are called “proof of performance” (PoP). Often, PoP is not only revenue-based; actual evidence that the activity (like a photo of a virtual event) or email examples are required, as well as any leads generated.  

While the requirements for getting the money might be more stringent than in past years, the good news is that manufacturers are willing to co-fund actually programs and campaigns for longer periods, not just a few tactics in the traditional 90-day funding window. At MarketDesign, we say, “Hallelujah"! This is a smart move and a time saver for all parties. The ability to create a six-month or even annual plan means everyone involved is spending less time adding activities every quarter in $2,500 increments and more time on the messaging, theme, and execution of the plan. 

Healthier partnerships have a long-term, big-picture vision. We look to build “better-together” partner relationships for our clients.  These longer-term agreements help eleveate the partner’s success, not just the manufacturers' name recognition and bottom line. 

Shifting Your Joint Partner Marketing Expectations  

The pandemic has shifted how tech companies and their channel/software/manufacturer partners operate. Relationships moved from tactics to plans over a longer term are more supported, data-driven, and PoP-focused. This shift in thinking benefits both the manufacturer and its partners. 

Embrace the shift. The manufacturer's move to more synergistic, annual-based funding programs will ensure everyone wins; and all companies grow. 

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