Top 10 Tips for Setting Up a Partner Program

Multi Ethnic Team During Meeting

We've been working with various partner programs for the last 20 years. Some very good... many NOT so good.

Today, setting up partnerships in business is a standard practice for many new companies.

It's a lot of work to do it right. Since so many companies now have partner programs, it's also very hard to compete with all the other companies pitching their programs.  So how do you stand out from the crowd? How do you get your partners to use your product over the competition?

Here are our Top 10 "Must-Have" Tips for setting up a successful partnership program:

  1. Give Partners a Free (limited, but usable) copy of your application - Establishing a "Freemium" model is very popular these days.  However, the "Puppy Dog" close is a better description of why you want to do this.  Salesforce.com used this technique to get started with partners and... well, look at Salesforce now. If you're not familiar with technique, the "puppy dog" close is a technique modeled after a parent bringing a child to a pet store to "just look" at the puppies.  The Store Owner offers to let you bring one of the puppies home for the weekend to "just see if your kid likes the puppy."  As we all know, your child will never let the puppy go back to the store on Monday... so the parent goes back to buy the dog.  It's worked for decades selling cats and dogs... and it works with selling partners as well.  Get them to start using your product or service every week.
  2. Create Marketing Automation Campaigns for your Partner Program - Establish four campaigns (over time):  prospect partners, new partners, experienced partners and one for your special top-rated partners. Include the following:
    • Monthly Partner Webinars - Build better relationships with your partners than the competition. Keep them updated and interested in your programs.
    • Monthly eNewsletters - Keep them up-to-date with your products, services, customers, industry updates and recognition.
    • Update Social Marketing Programs
    • Video Success Stories
  3. Set up a Special Phone Number and assign a Partner Specialist (even if you only have one person available).
  4. Build a Partner Dashboard / Portal including:
    • Reward and Recognize partners to win them over to you
    • Provide an easy way to share information, logos, collateral, success stories, etc.
    • Registration Forms for new partnerships
    • List the Top 10 Partners - Rank your Top 10 Partners each month, quarter and year.
  5. Make Joint Phone/Internet Sales Calls with your top ranked partners initially... and others when you have additional resources.
  6. Build a Marketing Template Library - Make it easy for your partners. Give them tools to build your sales.  Other companies are doing this.  Partners usually go to the easiest sale. If you're too difficult to work with, they will go to other easier options.
  7. Join or Set up a LinkedIn Groups - Regular groups that you actively promote and manage. The key is regular activity.
  8. Set up Your Own MeetUp Groups around the country.  Start with one Meetup Group locally and grow as your resources permit.
  9. Conduct Quarterly Partner Review Meetings with the Management Team. Keep them short initially.
  10. Plan an Annual Company Partner Meeting. Start small and let it grow as you grow.

As you know, there are many more projects and tasks needed to build a successful partner program. I hope this list starts some conversations going with your team. Feel free to add your comments or other tips below.

Photo credit: freedigitalphoto.com

Contact Us to help you set up a Partner Program for your company or start-up

Top 10 Small Business "Windows 8" Upgrade Tips

Small Business Working on a laptop and Smartphone - Credit: freedigitalphotos.net In 2013, Microsoft significantly changed the Windows 8 and Office user interface. Your employees are going to have to re-learn how to use Office Applications after you upgrade your PCs and Laptops.  Here are a few key tips to help evaluate this upgrade for your Small Business.

 

 

Small Business "Windows 8" Upgrade Tips:

1. Read the Walt Mossberg article (see link below) on Windows 8 before you spend any money 2. Increase (or establish) a budget for employee Office Software training 3. Line-up extra help for your staff, including: phone and one-to-one coaching 4. Make sure your existing software will work with Windows 8 5. Identify and Implement any business process changes 6. Re-write any office manuals 7. Confirm who in IT Support actually knows anything about Windows 8. It's new to everyone.... 8. Check that all your existing PC & Laptop accessories will work 9. Budget lots of extra money to deal with the unknown 10. You may want to wait for the rest of the industry to come up to speed before you invest in this upgrade.

The bottom-line is that your Small Business Staff & Information Technology Resource "Productivity will likely go down" and your "PC Costs will go up" by implementing Windows 8 in 2013.

Hope these tips help....

 

Note: It's important for a Small Business Owner to read the Mossberg review below before you upgrade or buy a new Windows PC.  Microsoft will have a Windows 8 upgrade by 2014 to fix many of the problems created by the new design.

 

"Microsoft is giving Windows its most radical overhaul since 1995 and even its most devoted users won’t recognize the venerable computer operating system in this new incarnation, called Windows 8, when it appears Oct. 26."  Walt Mossberg

Windows 8 Review by Walt Mossberg - AllThingsD

 

Note: Photo Image courtesy of  FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

Top 10 Must-Do Tips For Creating & Updating Your Website or Blog

Your website is the most important technology needed today to grow your small business.   Yes. It is more important than Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Smartphones, Tablets and everything else you read about. We recently underwent a big project to move and update several of our company Websites and Blogs.  We learned a lot from these projects and would like to share some of experiences.

The following are the top 10 tips that helped us minimize the time, cost and hassle of this project.

 

1. Move to a Popular Content Management System (CMS)

If you are spending the time and money to update an existing or create a new website or blog, you want to move to using a modern "Content Management System" or CMS.  Some of the more popular Content Management Systems  include: Wordpress, Google Blogs (Blogger), Drupal or Squarespace.

We suggest Wordpress for most Small Businesses.  It may not the best solution for everyone.  However, it is very popular,  with  50+ million worldwide websites (that is not a typo).  Wordpress is also very cheap and there are lots of resources for help everywhere.  There is even a Free version available for companies that have virtual no budget or staff.  More on this later.

 

2.  Design Your Site for Mobile Visitors

According to Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley, by 2015, the majority of users will be accessing your website from a Smartphone, Tablet or even a TV.... NOT a laptop or desktop computer of today.  If you are creating a new website or updating an existing site, you want to do this project once now and have it work for the short-term future.

You should only use a Content Management System (CMS) that will support mobile devices now... or will in the future.

Mary Meeker: Mobile Internet Will Soon Overtake Fixed Internet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Remember HTML 5.... NOT Flash

As I just mentioned in the  last tip, mobile is important now and will be extremely important in the near future.  Unfortunately, there is a website technology battle going on today in the industry. The older technology is Adobe Flash.  The new technology is called HTML 5.  HTML 5 is the worldwide standard. We recommend that you make sure your website is designed with HTML 5 support... not Flash.

Many website and marketing vendors  like to push Adobe Flash technology because that's what they have been using for the last 5 to 10 years.    Please DO NOT let someone talk you into creating an Adobe FLASH Website or Blog.   The whole worldwide industry is quickly moving to the HTML 5  standard. Even Adobe, the developer of Flash recently announced that it will be selling a product to create HTML 5 websites in direct competition to their Flash technology.

By 2011, there were 200 million Apple mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, iTouch & Apple TVs) that use HTML 5... but DO NOT read FLASH technology.   If you use Flash Technology on your new website or blog, you will exclude millions of potential customers.  Many fancy restaurant and resort websites were designed using Flash... and for the last two years,  million of potential customers haven't been able to see their websites.  Now, many restaurants are rebuilding their sites using HTML 5 technology for mobile and desktop users.

Wordpress supports HTML 5.

4. Six Must-Have Websites  Pages

If you are creating your 1st website, there are a six key pages that you need to publish on a website. Below are some thoughts about the type of  information you would write for each page.

  • Home Page - You 1st page summarizes a few key points:
    • Company Name
    • Contact Info
    • Poduct and Services List
    • One Paragraph describing your business
  • About Us - Tells everyone about who you are
    • Company Name
    • Background
    • Company Founder and Management Summary
    • Partnerships
  • Services/Products/Solutions
    • List of each Product or Service with a description of key info
  • Blog - Blog Articles that are published on a regular basis and provides your readers and customers tips, key info and advice
  • Contact Us - The Page that gives your readers info on how to contact you
    • Address, Phone and eMail
    • Social Networking Info
    • Map and Directions to Your Office
  • Landing Page - A special page designed to capture Sales Leads
    • Key Sales Lead or Order Form
    • Info on a product or service

Tip: The best thing to do is to read other websites and blogs that you like and see what they have written on their key pages.

 

5. "Share Widgets"

It is very important to add a way to share your website and Blog content to help grow website visitors, marketing leads and provide customer service.  There are two top FREE widgets you can use for your website: Addthis.com or  Sharethis.com.

You publish a share widget on each page of content to help increase readership.  These widgets should be placed in the website design templates or plug-ins. Here are a few of the top share links:

 

6.  Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

How do you attract the most visitors to your updated website?  One of the ways is to to have great Search Engine Optimization or SEO.   The following video explains SEO in 3-minute video.

 

 

7. Key Accounts You Need to Open

In addition to publishing a website / blog, you need to also open important internet accounts to help you market your company and website. Most of these services are Free or are very inexpensive.

  • Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • gMail and YouTube
  • Flickr
  • Hotsuite or Tweetdeck
  • CRM
  • eNewsletter
  • Skype

8. Metrics & Reporting

Use Google Analytics for website reporting, management tools and metrics.  Almost all small businesses use Google Analytics service. It's Free.

9. Videos and Photos

Almost all new Small Business websites should use video as well as photos.   Adding videos is one of the top trends.  The top three video publishing services include:  YouTube, Vimeo and Brightcove.

10. Update Weekly - Website-Blog + Social

Once you have your Website / Blog up and running, you need to update them with fresh new content and let the world know about your wonderful information.