The key to growth is more than Capital.
Ecosystem-led growth, partner ecosystems, ‘nearbound.’
However, this influx of interest is not just indicative of the need for a refreshed route to market, it’s an alarm bell signaling that the current routes to market are becoming more inefficient by the day. These failing routes have been framed as staple best practice among literally all B2B orgs on the planet. It’s time to crumple up the map, toss it aside and chart a brand new course to market.
Inbound and outbound demand generation has been the hallmark of modern B2B go-to-market for decades now, with a tidal wave of tools and software flooding the market to support these strategies. And yet, rather than becoming more efficient, their performance is decreasing year-over-year.
At the same time, digital environments are becoming more competitive than ever, seeing their highest growth rates in over a decade at 35% in 2021. Audiences are increasingly demanding in terms of value and personalization, while also harder to engage digitally. Combine these challenges with increasing privacy veils and the impending death of the 3rd party cookie and you see inefficiencies emerge that make current strategies untenable when used exclusively to engage your target audience.
In the last five years, B2B customer acquisition costs (CAC) have grown by over 60% with backbone channels like paid search and display bearing the largest costs.
The digital tectonics are shifting, and new, more efficient channels have to emerge to provide balance.
As career business operators, we’ve been fortunate to build and exit a half-dozen businesses across a number of diverse verticals. And yet, all of those organizations began in the same way – with a pain that needed to be solved. By far, the best way to alleviate those pains is to create and maintain incredible proximity to the ideal end user of your product. Make that customer feel like they are your only customer. Provide hyper-value and adopt their KPIs as your own KPIs.
Most recently, we took those same pillars and created a B2B Digital Marketing Consultancy focused on formulating winning go-to-market strategies and more importantly, threading those strategies through process, technology and people – the missing piece in many organizations who have adopted the flood of sales and marketing technologies hoping to scale their growth efforts. Across the last decade we achieved this for over 4,000 high-growth and enterprise clients.
The same principals we used to build our own companies held true for our clients. At the center of everything, reside relationships and trust as the magic ingredients.
How do you scale both relationships and trust?
Historically, “partner programs” have largely been a check of a box. At their worst, they were a thinly veiled proxy for pay-to-play. At their best, they were an anemic acquisition channel. In the new world of partner ecosystems, they should be a fundamental strategy for creating and extending value to both the B2B organization and its clients.
When a customer chooses your solution, or more so, they choose you, you must consider the fundamental reasoning that sparked that choice. They have a problem, or ‘opportunity’ as we say, and they have placed their trust in your ability to help them achieve their goal. Those goals are big, they’re nuanced, and there’s absolutely no way your product addresses every aspect of that need.
At LeadMD, we called these ‘outcomes.’ We defined outcomes as the identification of the type of desired achievement that removes you from the cost lines on a P&L and places you mentally in the investment category. If you understand these desired outcomes, and more importantly become integral to achieving them, you become mission critical. You create trust.
Outcomes such as driving revenue, opening up new markets and retaining customers are both simple as well as extremely complex. They require a symphony of strategy, process and tools working together in harmony. They require partners, working together.
When you begin to consider the customer in the same way that you would a project that requires collaboration to be successful – you also begin to realize how archaic the legacy partner model has been. In the past, the view of the customer has been more akin to an asset, something to be owned, coveted, and further monetized where possible by way of renting that asset to essentially the highest bidder. Partners were anything but, they were a back-alley transaction.
Today, at HubSpot, partnerships drive 40% of the $16B company’s revenue. That’s not back-alley, that’s intentionality.