5 Ways Agencies Boost Partnerships (Plus, One Thing They Can't Do)

We delve into the five pivotal roles an agency can play in enhancing your partnerships program — and the one aspect where it falls short.

More than six years ago, I started in the world of partnerships by joining the ActiveCampaign channel sales team. I didn’t know then what “channel” was or the pivotal role it would play in so many brands’ strategies. Over time, I took over the affiliate program, setting the strategy and running the channel's day-to-day operations. In early 2023, I was honored to launch and manage the affiliate program at Triple Whale. Finally, at the start of 2024, ready for a new challenge, I came over to the agency side, joining the team at Hamster Garage as a senior account manager.

How an agency can enhance partnerships

In this role, I've come to understand the nuanced differences between managing partnership programs internally and entrusting them to an agency. Read along as I delve into the five pivotal roles an agency can play in enhancing your partnerships program — and the one aspect where it falls short.

An image representing how agencies help prove partnership ROI

Power your partnerships with an expert team

The saying is true ​​— more people means more productivity — at least when it comes to working with an agency for your partnership program. When a brand signs on with an agency, they are assigned a dedicated team consisting of an account director, account manager and associate. 

Starting an affiliate or other partnership channel can be considered a gamble for executive leadership until ROI is proven. So, many brands will begin with a team of one to run their partnerships program. This person must wear many hats, coordinate with internal stakeholders, recruit partners, work on activation and optimization and manage compliance within the program. 

In my experience, this leads to timelines slipping, subpar work and at worst, burnout. Having a whole team in place allows the work to be delegated to the appropriate team member, meaning the exact right people handle the exact right tasks. Plus, with the efforts spread out across a team, it's more likely that timelines are met.  

Related: Partnership professionals who saved time using partner tech.

Provide discounts through collective buying power

Many years ago, I began my career at Groupon where I learned about the power of group buying, something that’s still relevant today. As an agency, we work with publishers on behalf of all our clients. This collective bargaining allows us to negotiate partnership agreements and commissions. By working with an agency, vendors can save money on paid placements and commissions, allowing your program to run more efficiently and freeing up resources for other channels. 

Unlock access to premium tools

We have tools to handle any program and anything your program throws at us, allowing your program to run smoothly. Certain tools are necessary to run a best-in-class partnership program, but it can also get extremely costly to purchase licenses for all of them. Here at Hamster Garage, we use, Affluent, Asana, Notion and BrandVerity  — just to name a few. Since we can use the tools across our client roster, we purchase them. By working with an agency, brands reap these tools' benefits without purchasing licenses. Even better, if there is a tool that several of our clients require, we can purchase an agency license. In a recent case, we saved our clients 81 per cent off the list price this way. 

See more: How Apollo ignited a 1,641% increase in average partnerships revenue.

An image showing that agencies provide their customers with discounts

Share industry expertise and trends 

On my account team alone, we represent 15+ brands’ partner programs throughout our careers. This experience represents programs with varying levels of maturity, different amounts of complexity, and different verticals (B2B, B2C, D2C, referrals, etc). It’s safe to say that between us, we’ve “seen it all” or close to it! Why is this important? 

Well, let’s be honest: the world of partnerships isn’t the same as it was five years ago. And in five more years, it’ll look different than today. Partners expect more, more brands are leaning into partnerships and the once foolproof tactics are shifting as AI advances and changes consumer behaviors. The technologies used to support partnerships have also grown, so by employing an agency like Hamster Garage, we can save you the time, energy and resources it takes to go through a procurement process. Whether it’s PartnerStack or another platform, our team has the knowledge and experience to recommend a PRM that works for you. 

Keeping on top of trends and technology is crucial to the success of a partner program, but it’s often overlooked in favor of everything else that needs to be done. When you work with an agency, it’s our job to be informed and stay updated on what’s happening. We keep up with partnership industry news, attend conferences, and network with other partner leaders. That knowledge then gets applied to your program. 

Give you time back to focus on other areas of the business

Because we have a team of people dedicated to the success of your program, you can shift your focus to other aspects of the business. While our teams will collaborate to lay the foundation for the program, we will handle the strategy creation and execution. We meet weekly to provide updates and every quarter, present our strategy and findings. When all is said and done, working with an agency can free up 70 to 100 hours per month for you and your team to focus on other projects, business verticals or finally learn to knit.  

See more: Outreach etiquette for how to start an agency partnership the right way.

What an agency can’t do for your partnership program

While there is a lot that you can do by working with an agency, I would be remiss not to mention that one thing we can’t do: be there full time. 

Replicate organic insights

While we keep lines of communication open, sharing Slack channels, emails and weekly meetings, we are not a part of your company. We don’t hear the casual conversation in the break room about an upcoming release. We don’t interact with the entire sales team to hear feedback on the partners and their referrals. And we miss out on the overall company performance and updates because we’re only focused on our channel. This is all valuable information that can help set strategy and increase the likelihood of success within the channel. Brands can overcome this by over communicating and sharing any information that can help the partner channel grow. 

Partnering with an agency for your partnerships program offers many benefits, including enhanced productivity, cost savings, access to specialized tools, industry expertise and a wealth of collective experience that will free up your time for other strategic initiatives. However, it's essential to recognize that agencies cannot fully replicate the organic insights from internal teams. By striking a balance between leveraging agency expertise and fostering transparent communication, brands can maximize the effectiveness of their partnership initiatives.

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Joint venture

[joynt ven·chr]

A joint venture is a business collaboration between two parties on a project. Both parties will benefit from bringing their shared resources and knowledge, and neither party will take on the sole burden of the risk.


Buyer persona

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These depictions of target customers help to define your company's ideal target customers.


SaaS partner programs

[sas pahrt-ner proh-grams]

SaaS (software-as-a-service) partner programs are a systematic way that software companies form mutually beneficial relationships with agencies, influencers, and other companies to drive business results.

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