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What Partnerships Can Learn From Marketing Leaders

Here's how to transfer marketing skills to the partnership world with great results.

Peruse any job board, and you’ll see many gigs that didn’t exist a few years ago. Growing up, no one told us there were jobs in partnerships, social media, or virtual offices, for example — because they didn’t exist.

That doesn’t mean you don’t have transferable skills from your previous places of employment. These days, people can hold an average of 15 jobs in their lifetime, evolving and honing their skills into new opportunities.  

Elisa Reggiardo, a principal content and partner marketing manager at Slite, is an excellent example of how far a career pivot can take you. Reggiardo began her career in customer service, transitioned to project management, and then entered the marketing world.

According to this partnership leader, the skills required for marketing and partnerships are “very intertwined”. Below, Reggiardo discusses some of the hard and soft skills required in marketing that she now uses for effective partnerships.

Skill: Communication 

Good communication is at the base of any marketing campaign, and it’s just as essential for successful partnerships, says Reggiardo. Conveying the benefits of a brand or product is similar to finding potential partners to work with you. So, treating a partnership like a product or service to market can help you transition to a partnerships management mindset.

“A marketer has to convey purpose, brand, what they do, and problem solving,” she says. “It is like a partnerships manager in that way. They need to showcase the product or brand and what’s in it for that partner in your program. Then, they need to ensure partners achieve their goals and bring you referrals, customers, or revenue directly.”

Related: Here are the things partner managers look for before closing a deal.

Skill: Project management and organization

Marketers often wear many hats and put out multiple fires while promoting various campaigns and products. In that sense, Reggiardo says partnerships are similar. Unless you’re on a big team where everyone has a narrow job description, odds are you need a partnerships manager who can juggle. The key to keeping all those balls in the air is organization.

“You will juggle between building the programs, fine-tuning the programs, finding those partners, enabling those partners, measuring how those partners are performing, running reports, supporting partners, creating assets for them to use, and all that fun stuff,” Reggiardo explains.

“That requires strong organization, project management, and prioritization. Always knowing what can be second-tier priority and what needs to be tier-one right now. And priorities will shift quickly. Never losing what is in the moment is crucial.”

Another key to staying organized is automating tasks like partner payments to free up your time that can be better spent on strategic planning. Learn how PartnerStack’s PRM can help from recruitment to enablement to ensure partner managers have the tools and time they need to effectively run partnerships.

A visual representation of the skill of relationship management

Skill: Relationship management

Marketers always build relationships, whether within the team or through external connections, like customers or sales. Reggiardo says it’s the same with partnerships, where you may need to coordinate and build relationships internally and externally with partners.

“A good partner is more than someone who brings you revenue,” she says. “And just because your program is amazing, there is still a secret sauce — building a relationship where partners know they can reach out to you if they have a question and they feel good when they have a call with you. That personal connection and relationship can be knocked from one role to the other.”

Read more: 10 skills any partnerships manager should have to succeed.

Skill: Content planning

In her current role, Reggiardo oversees many content partnerships. Content creation is a hard skill that she finessed while working in marketing, and it’s essential when thinking of partnerships and approaching potential partners with opportunities like webinars or events.

“Creating any type of assets, from ebooks to case studies to one-pagers with partners is key. Writing skills, copywriting and creativity are beneficial,” she says. “If you do all of that with a partner, then it maximizes your exposure.”

Skill: SEO

Another hard skill Reggiardo says translates from digital marketing to partnerships is search engine optimization. Without traffic, digital marketers can have difficulty converting sales and attracting customers. The same goes for successful partnerships — promising an affiliate program without strong SEO skills, for example, could mean you aren’t delivering on your end of the partnership.

“It’s crucial,” she adds. “For example, if you’re a new company and you want to improve brand awareness, you may want better SEO for your website with guest blog posts and backlinks. Or, if you want to acquire leads through, says, events, where you share leads is important.”  

Read our latest guest post: How RevOps and partnerships work together to achieve revenue goals.

Skills: Critical analysis

Strategic thinking is critical. Knowing which questions to ask and answer is essential. Reggiardo says it isn’t necessary to have hard data skills to be a successful partnerships manager, but like marketing, leading with an analytical mind is helpful to the job. She points out there are many useful B2B SaaS tools that can help partnerships succeed, including PartnerStack’s PRM

“Tools can help you run a partner program with some level of analytics, but you need to know what you actually want to answer,” she explains. “Be curious, know which questions you need to ask, and have an analytical mind to answer those questions.”

In her current role, Reggiardo always asks how she can deliver qualified leads right to sales so that sales can convert them and become customers.

“That pipeline management is similar between marketing and partnerships,” she adds.

A headshot of Elisa Reggiardo and the wuote, "“Tools can help you run a partner program with some level of analytics, but you need to know what you actually want to answer,” she explains. “Be curious, know which questions you need to ask, and have an analytical mind to answer those questions.”

Skill: Data mining

Marketers can use data mining to create personalized campaigns and improve market segments. Reggiardo says partnerships management also requires this skill because each partnership is unique and changes based on overall goals, scale, and team. Know what you need from each and mine the data to ensure you achieve those goals. 

Reggiardo is on a smaller team and runs several partner programs with different partner metrics to analyze the success of each one.

“Not every partner person runs so many different types of programs, but it comes down to scale and the team size,” she says. “You need to ensure you’re covering the entire journey of what you ultimately want to achieve.”

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