Push, Pull, Prospects, Paycheck

I once had HP, IBM, CA and a few other companies pimping my software.

This was long, long ago when my hairline was not retreating faster than a Baptist in a gay bar. I worked for a tiny five million dollar outfit and was brought on to implement their first real marketing department. After studying the market for a bit, it was obvious to me that our plug-in product survived only through partner-side adoption. Hence we carefully selected our partners (who collectively had more than 66% of each target segment) and promoted through them as well as directly to buyers.

We pulled prospects through direct marketing and pushed through partners. We bumped top-line revenues over 25% in the first year (well, the first nine months actually).

ul-logoOne of the reasons this worked is believability. B2B software buyers are a cynical and skeptical lot because those are survival traits. Blindly buying into vendor promises is slightly less foolish than buying a politician’s.  Vendor claims are the least trusted, and thus by themselves make poor promotion. People need validation, and in a world where nobody has the time to validate every feature of every competing solution, buyers seek outside confirmation that spending corporate lucre will not result in unemployment.

Partner pimping, providing the pimp is the parent in the relationship, works well. Though not the best validation source, a vendor on whom you already rely has earned some trust … or at least painful commitment. Buyers will trust that vendor’s advice on partner products that complete the vendor’s whole product offering. Buyers assume (rightly in most cases) that the parent vendor has vetted selected partners and that the offering isn’t complete crud.

Assurance via shared potential failure.

Even more so than vendors, peer referral is the best trust builder. Before social media, the most you could hope for were trade shows and special events where peers could reinforce recommendations. This led large companies to create their own events so happy customers could infect the thinking of prospects. But unless you are a big firm, this isn’t always an option. If you are the child product in a partnership, you may be able to leverage the parent’s events.

The marketing lesson is that buyers require validation (even consumers look for the UL label). Your propaganda is insufficient. Prospects need third party assurances that you are worth the investment. Make validation an equal part of your promotional effort.


Speak up! What are your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.