The 5-Step Strategy for Partnering with Enterprise-Focused Digital Agencies

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Digital agencies focused on Enterprise brands are very unique, especially when it comes to partnering with technology or other agencies.

They typically have:

  1. Zero want or need for referral commissions.
  2. A strong and active co-selling and referral relationship with those companies they call their partners.
  3. Little interest in vetting new technology that was not brought to them by a client.

What this means for partnerships teams trying to recruit enterprise-focused agencies is that their playbook of using cold outreach and commissions as incentives is out the window.

Your team [speaking to the tech company now] must be very strategic in your approach to each and every one of these enterprise-focused agencies.

The 5-step strategy for recruiting enterprise-focused agencies to your partner program is as follows:

1st - Do a CRM account analysis

Look for emails associated with accounts that do not match the owners domain. This can be done with an account users export (include emails - possibly needing a SQL query), and a virtual assistant to find and separate out (in a CSV) which accounts are owned by, but have administrators.

2nd - Ask your Sales and CS leads for help

Next, you want to set up a system to have those who speak to your users most (sales and customer success) ask the users if they work with any digital agencies while on those calls. You may have to spiff their team (i.e. $50 for every agency you find associated with a user account), but hopefully they understand the importance of this and do it for free.

Tip: create a new CRM account field for "Agency:", ask that they fill that in with the agency name / email, and Zap a Slack notification every time it's filled out.

3rd - Match their clients with lookalike customers

You may not have shared clients you can find. But, you can surely find clients of theirs who look a lot like top customers of yours. In the same sheet / CSV, add rows for their client and a similar customer of yours. Use the search phrase "{{agency domain}} + clients", or "case studies" to see what comes up. Again, it's best to task a VA for this part.

At this stage, if the list of agencies who are sharing accounts with your users is small, you can ask your VA to enrich that list with lookalike agencies as well.

Enrich that data with multiple POC's, emails, LinkedIn...

Tip: use Owler or Ocean for this. If you can't, use the "People also viewed" column on LinkedIn to the right of the company profile. Just be sure to check out the websites and confirm the agency is similar.

4th - Now, gather your co-marketing opportunities

This goes for all successful digital agencies... They don't cannot waste time exploring new products every week. But, they have to explore marketing, SEO, and thought leadership opportunities as they arise. This part of the strategy involves your marketing / content / events team.

Set a meeting and ask for key terms the marketing team are focused on, a list of coming articles, webinars, podcasts... any content yet-to-be published. Ask which of those you can involve an "expert" in, and in what capacity (simple comment, Q/A, video interview...?).

Here are our top 16 co-marketing examples >

And here's an Airtable template to use to run co-marketing projects with your team >

Take that information into the CSV you've been creating, and now you want to match agencies with opportunities by finding out the agency is also talking about that key term on their website (blog, case studies, services...), or listing it as a specialty on their linkedin company page.

So your CSV will have Agency name, POC details, key term they target, co-marketing opportunity...

Try to match each co-marketing opportunity with at least a few agencies you want to offer it to.

5th - Finally, start your outreach.

Your outreach process should not be outsourced or automated. The reason I stress that is because, not only are agencies (and everyone in tech) being bombarded by cold outreach, these persona's are especially sensitive to generic cold messages in their inbox.

So your outreach has to be very specific and multi-channel.

That being said, if you are a Partnerhub® user, add the offer details and restrictions as a Live Offer and you can advertise it to the agency-users of Partnerhub® who are a match.

My suggested approach to cold outreach with the co-marketing opportunity is:

  1. LinkedIn connection.
  2. LinkedIn message talking about the opportunity, in short, and asking if you can email it to them.
  3. Send that to 3 contacts per company, wait a few days.
  4. Those that do not reply, email the enriched email with very specific details below:

The details of the email should include:

  • Mention you have a campaign targeting the shared or lookalike accounts.
  • Tell them you and your marketing team would like their expertise in said content / campaign / event.
  • Explain you saw the same key terms on their website.
  • Tell them who will see the content (which channels + subscribers, traffic, followers...)?
  • How they get involved (is this a scheduled recording, a form fill, a short non-recorded interview)?
  • What else they receive (I suggest mentioning if you can gift their client anything on behalf of them, or if you can gift their agency a free account to use internally...)?

A quick recap of what not to do:

  1. Don't include marketing language about your partner program or product in the cold emails.
  2. Don't mention anything about commissions.
  3. Don't put the enriched agencies into a general automated sequence.

Now, on those calls, and afterwards, here's how to convert the agencies to partnerships conversations:

The co-marketing engagement will build reciprocity and trust. But, you do have to ask to have the conversation about the shared accounts or lookalike accounts you have researched.

The process for converting co-marketing collaborators into actual partners is as follows >

My advice for pitching your partnership opportunity >

I hope this was helpful.