Marketing leaders often hold partners at an arm’s length. They think the complexity and hassle of creating close business relationships with partners will outweigh the value gained. But by treating partner marketing as a secondary program, marketing organizations are missing out on an invaluable opportunity. Companies with mature partner programs grow revenue almost twice as fast as other companies, according to Forrester. They’re also five times more likely to exceed stock price and bottom-line profitability.1
At Snowflake, we’ve walked arm-in-arm with our partners from the beginning. They are an indispensable part of our go-to-market strategy. In fact, one of our five marketing pillars is “Build the most thriving partner ecosystem.” Simply put, we would not be where we are today without partners because they are critical to our growth.
Not surprisingly, revenue generation is the primary goal of partner programs, according to a recent IDG survey.2 Partners can help you increase sales activity and attract customer segments that you wouldn’t be able to reach on your own. They can generate brand awareness by helping evangelize your message. They can also help you increase the satisfaction and loyalty of your current customers. And, in a consumption business such as Snowflake, partners’ professional services literally drive customer consumption, and therefore revenue, to our business.
In the early days of Snowflake, we went to market with partners nearly 100% of the time. Most often, that strategy involved AWS and Tableau. This enabled us to get three times the reach at a third of the marketing cost. Today, our partners and customers are using the Snowflake Data Cloud and the Snowflake Data Marketplace as a marketing platform, building applications that solve business problems and distributing invaluable data.
In fact, we can’t carry out our mission to mobilize the world’s data without our partner ecosystem. Customers get value from our entire ecosystem, in addition to the value they receive from our product. Nearly 100% of our revenue is impacted in some way from our partner relationships. But to get to this point, we remained focused on one thing: our customers.
Here are four rules for building a partner program that can be a chief competitive differentiator in your marketing efforts.
1. Build a customer-centric partner program
The first and foremost rule of your partner marketing strategy should be to focus on the customer. This isn’t just lip service. Every decision you make in your partnership should start with the question, “How does this provide value to customers?” In today’s connected world, consumers don’t use products in silos. The most successful companies focus on how integrating their products with their partner ecosystem can provide customers with a unified experience. Snowflake augments many partner technologies and services, which helps solve their customers’ problems. The same is true for the reverse. So the more integrated you can be, the better you can serve your customers. It’s also important to partner with companies that are customer-centric, too. Frankly, if there’s a company that doesn’t share the same value of putting customers first, then you’re going to have friction.
2. Embrace partners across your entire marketing organization
Partner marketing shouldn’t sit isolated in your partner organization, or off on its own. It should be in the DNA of the whole marketing organization. At Snowflake, we have held ourselves to the standard that 75% of our marketing programs should include partners. When demand generation drives programs, when product marketing launches a new product, when solution marketing focuses on a vertical, or when the community team wants to expand share of voice and build new audiences, they make sure to involve partner marketing from the start. It’s not difficult for us because we make sure partners are infused into our entire organization, from engineering and product development to services. And within those functions, our partner efforts are aligned, creating a unified experience for partners and decreasing redundancy.
3. Provide more value to the partner than you expect to get back
Although revenue generation or brand awareness may be your goal in partnering with a company, the focus of your efforts should be on giving. What can you offer a specific partner? Do they want leads? Advanced training or resources? Help with content creation? These benefits can be delivered in ways large and small. For example, during the height of the pandemic, we launched the Partner Demand Center where our partners can launch partner-driven virtual campaigns to drive pipeline. We have helped our ecosystem of system integration (SI) partners generate leads and build their pipelines by inviting them to conduct workshops with Snowflake customers through our Zero to Snowflake program. And we took these workshops virtual to create the Virtual Hands on Lab for our ISV partners, too. Meanwhile, at Snowflake Summit, we pair our partners with a concierge who makes sure they are getting the most out of their experience. We also build programs all partners can tap into. No partner is too small. As we know firsthand, today’s small partner can become tomorrow’s industry leader.
4. Create a partner program that can scale
If you’re a CMO of a small company, you can build and nurture personalized relationships with each partner. As a CMO of a large company, I still find building relationships with our partners to be immensely important—as well as very educational. I’m always learning new and exciting ways in which our partners are co-building a thriving ecosystem with us. But as you grow and develop hundreds or even thousands of partner relationships, you must create a structure that can deliver personalization to every partner. The Snowflake Partner Network provides partners with the training, tools and resources to develop their Snowflake practice and go to market with Snowflake. We continue to invest in resources for our partners to run self-managed, co-branded, multi-lingual campaigns through the Partner Demand Center.3 Partners can also tap into our content or access Snowflake experts and speakers for their events. These services are personalized for different partner segments: cloud partners that deliver a single, seamless Snowflake experience; services partners that provide professional, managed, and resale services; ISV partners that provide technology to enhance the Snowflake experience; and data partners that provide data and data services through the Snowflake Data Marketplace. We also have a specialized Powered by Snowflake program for partners that provide customer-facing applications that run on Snowflake. This strategy pays off: According to IDG, 85% of organizations that have a documented strategy say their organization views partner marketing as providing value.4
A Partnership for Customers
At Snowflake, we make sure to partner with companies that have products we can enhance with our own to better serve the customer. From a marketing standpoint, we don’t use the word “sponsor” because we’re not looking for a company’s monetary support. We are looking for a true, mutually beneficial partnership that provides a win for the partner, a win for us, and most importantly, a win for the customer. As you grow your partner marketing program, focus not on how you are selling together, but on how you are better serving customers together. The better you are at teaming up with your partners, the more effective you become at solving problems beyond your customers’ dreams.