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The Partnerships Growth Games

These are the Partnerships Growth Games. A company-wide event to spur partnerships engagement.

I use to be a VP of Growth for a few marketplaces and SaaS including Younity, Curiosity, and Carlease.

During those initial startup days, we were often a 30-50 person team with few resources and working in one or two offices.

(Yes, back then we worked out of offices...)

The reason this is important is because it allowed me to perfect the "Growth Games".

These were 30-day, sometimes quarter-long, all-hands collaborations to achieve the overarching goals of the company when we did not have the budget to achieve them via marketing, PR, or by purchasing leads.

Partnerships teams are mostly in this boat - you do not have the money, time or team size to achieve your goals. You just don't.

So... You have to use the power of the entire org. And... you have to make them realize that it's for the benefit of the entire org.

Prizes are the quick incentive, but the end result is a company-driven impact that could put your partner program at the forefront of positive board / investor discussions next quarter.

The purpose & benefits of The Growth Games

  1. Grow revenue, traffic, and your brand interactions.
  2. Provide an engaging format for interdepartmental collaboration.
  3. Give incentives back to your team for directly impacting traffic/sales/growth.

The purpose & benefits of The Partnerships Growth Games

  1. Create a company-wide culture that supports partnerships as a growth lever for all OKRs.
  2. Start backchannels between all departments.
  3. Bring partners closer to the company.
  4. Bring the company closer to partners.

What exactly are The Growth Games?

The Growth Games are a competitive event to get your entire company involved in the lift of your brand and content online.

Now, how can you spin this event for the good of Partnerships growth?

You've probably connected the dots, but I am still going to explain and walk you through the execution...

This may happen naturally in your org due to a positive marketing-centric culture.

But, let's assume you are on a "partnerships island" like most of us are. And let's see how the team reacts to one Partnerships Growth Games event...

I believe one form of this event or another should be created once per year to accomplish each of those 5 goals above.


Step 1: Choose a metric

To make it actionable, start by choosing one company wide goal, objective, metric. Examples: 

  • "Owning the keyword _____ on Google SERP"
  • "Reaching ____ brand followers on LinkedIn or Twitter"
  • "Increasing YouTube subscribers to ____"
  • "Close ___ logo this quarter"
  • "Reduce churn by __ %"

Meet with marketing or sales leads to determine if you are correct with your list.

Alt. Step 1: Choose a timely event

Instead of a KPI / metric / keyword, maybe it's more relevant to rally your team around a big: 

  • Integration rollout
  • Event sponsorship or booth
  • Rebranding campaign

Step 2: Create a partners accounts list

Create a list of key partner and prospective partner account that could help impact that goal (by way of extra support, co-marketing, co-selling...). Ask these questions: 

  1. Are they experts in that keyword / sector?
  2. Are they already promoting content to towards that keyword / sector?
  3. Do they have an audience?
  4. Are our customers on the platforms these partners are promoting on?

Actually create an accounts list with contacts, Linkedin URLs, emails, twitter profile links, YouTube channels, TikTok and Instagram links... you get the gist. You want links to their stuff for this all to work.

Use your current partners list, plus other partner directories (if you don't have data, join our Concierge Program 😉), try LAL audiences based on current partners...

Step 3: Create your point system

The point system is what you are going to track and award for given actions.

Examples from my previous games: 

  • Video post about a partner tagging the partner = 6 pts
  • Link to a partner post tagging the partner 5 pts
  • Text post about a partner, tagging them 4 pts
  • Partner article share 3 pts
  • Partner post share 2 pts
  • Comment on partner post tagging partner 1 pts

Check out the rules and point system here.

Step 4: Choose a prize

Point system implies a winner, a winner implies a prize... Holding a carrot out there is highly recommended, especially for the first games. This carrot doesn't have to be made of money, but money is a surefire way to speed things up.

You know your team, so give them something on par with the extra effort. Keep in mind they are not allowed to gain points during work hours. Here is a list of 65 creative employee rewards you can choose from.

Monetary would look something like: 

First Place: $1000

Second Place: $500

Third Place: $250

  • At the end of the month.
  • If quarter, triple these awards.
  • Ideally, have a party to celebrate - making it an actual company-wide and company-supported event.

The Rules of Growth Games

  • Give 100% - An effortless answer, or invaluable posts do not do you brand any good. If participating in Growth Games, give it a solid effort.
  • Teams of Two '
  • Teams must be Interdepartmental - This ensures an even playing field and gives people a chance to work with someone they may not interact much with at the office.
  • Do not leave Reviews - Do not give out points for the app store or yelp reviews. If/when too many of these come from the same IP address, they will create a flag on your account.
  • Do not direct message partners unless they message you first  - You do not want any/all employees messaging your potential partners. This can cause confusion and disrupt the funnel.
  • Do not be fake - Make sure your staff understands they are to be transparent and not to pretend they are not employees or affiliated with the company.
  • No points for activity during work hours - You may have to run this by HR, but you should be able to require any activity for this competition takes place outside of work hours. This also ensures the activity comes from different IP addresses (important for certain types of engagements).

Guidelines for the team running the games: 

  1. Team members - You will need a company with at least 3 departments, and ideally more than 10 employees in one office.
  2. A prize - To ensure the games are successful, you need a healthy prize. I strongly suggest cash. Considering this is a direct impact on marketing, you can take it out of the marketing budget for the month. If you do not have the budget, you can award work from home days, reserved parking spots, a membership, or other awards...
  3. Excitement - If you simply tell your team they will be competing in Growth Games, they will see it as an obligation and distraction from their work. To avoid this reaction, begin with an opt-in process to allow whoever would like to join, join. This can be a landing page, Google doc/sheet, or simply emailing.
  4. A format - Here is a simple Google sheet scorecard you can use, but you may have your own way of dramatizing the scoring - possibly a large whiteboard in the main office? In any case, you will need a strict format and rules to ensure no cheating or use of work hours to compete.
  5. A referee - The games needs an administrator to keep score and make sure no one is cheating or taking work hours to rack up points. Someone in the marketing department should keep score as they know best how to track the progress.
  6. A central forum - Ideally, you would set up a company-wide Slack channel and use Zapier to post additions to the score card (google sheet) to this channel which would alert everyone involved about the score and leaders. Further, this sort of central forum would spur competitiveness and increase participation.

Getting Started

The first step is to have a quick meeting with department heads about the games and get their input. Ideally, the games would coincide with a product release as an extension of PR and give your team something timely to post about. You need and want full participation from all departments to make this a huge success. Make sure the department heads are ok with the proposed date range of the games.

When you have a date picked out, it's time to send out the emails and/or post the registration forms.

Here is an example Slack message or email about the kickoff of the Partnerships Growth Games:

"This is an exciting month for us. We have ___, ___ and ___ to get ready for.

We appreciate everyone's ongoing support of our great company and brand, especially online.

As you all know, every mention, quote, link or like/comment/share helps get our products to new potential customers.

So on that note, and for the next ___ weeks, we are going to give extra incentive to for these efforts that directly impact our online traffic and conversions.

The games is on!

We have a few rules to abide by, but the prizes for those who give our brand the most exposure are as follows:

{{rules, link to Google Sheet with partners and points etc...}}

And that's that.

It's not easy, but you will be glad if you get it done.


Alex Glenn


Founder and CEO of Partnerhub. Proud father. And proud of what our team has built!