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Moran Khoubian
Director of Global Partner Marketing
April 6th, 2022

Value Creation in Partnerships and What it Had To Do With Yotpo’s Partner Awards Program

Business partnerships can be the greatest asset to a business when built right, or quickly turn into a crazy rollercoaster ride if based on the wrong values. While there isn’t a playbook for partnership building, there is one golden rule for sustaining successful partnerships.

About six years ago, I entered the eCommerce space brand new to the industry, tasked with building a partner program and an ecosystem of global partners for Yotpo. While there absolutely was a learning curve for eCommerce, establishing partnerships and relationships came pretty naturally.

Building partnerships sounds like the greatest job in the world, as it is often described as a “win-win” type of effort. However, those quick wins can evolve into a demotivating and unpleasant experience if it’s not built in a sustainable way. As with any other relationship, the ability to understand your counterpart their motivations, needs, and pain points — allows you to be a better partner.

But how do you do this at scale? 

How do you acknowledge the needs, pain points, and motivations of hundreds of very diverse companies, and then act on them? And more importantly, how do you do so when you have your own goals and motivations in place?

First, you ask.

Sustaining a partner program of thousands of global partners requires more than a great product, and a lot more than an “engagement” budget spent on fine dining and gifts. Don’t get me wrong, these things are still truly important, but no one will know what it takes to truly sustain a partnership better than your own partners.

Running community surveys resulting in qualitative data you can turn into insights will be a great starting point. You’d be surprised at how little you know when you ask partners point-blank what they really value in the relationship. You will learn that revenue share and incentives alone won’t cut it. In fact, your partners want exactly what you are looking for: to grow, in a meaningful and sustainable way, and there are various ways you could support that growth.

Once you truly understand what matters to your partners, (by the way, segmenting them to sub-audiences by type and size will add some complexity but will give you a more accurate picture), you are ready to work on the most important thing in partnerships: value creation.

Value creation isn’t only monetary. In the case of our partners, we heard clearly that the best value we can provide them is exposure and recognition. However your audience defines that value, if it serves as the primary motivation behind your program, stickiness and mutual benefits are inevitable.

And that is how the Yotpo Partner Awards program was born, five years ago…

Now, you know what your partners want and how you can give them value. Oftentimes, the problem will be resources. How do you send leads or co-market with all of your tier 1 and 2 partners? Unless you have endless marketing budgets and don’t mind spamming your customer database, it’s often not a doable solution.

Back in 2017, when I was mainly focused on defining the values of the Yotpo Partner Program, it came to mind that the best way to give exposure and support our partners’ growth is by recognizing their work. We saw the projects our partners worked on and saw how they helped their clients boost revenue and growth, and we knew they were the best. Why not share their outstanding work and achievements with our community of customers and prospects as well?

Saying thank you is free. 

We decided to start an awards program and recognize the best of the best, the partners who went above and beyond and shaped extraordinary commerce experiences. They deserved it and deserved the recognition. So for our first ever Yotpo Partner Awards, we awarded two partners, BVA Commerce and Gorilla Group. We printed a certification and posters, and filmed home videos celebrating their success. We did it with relatively low resources but it generated maximum excitement.

We didn’t expect anything in return, other than being able to show them our appreciation. Quickly and unexpectedly we’ve been getting requests from other partners to get recognized, asking what it will take and how they can get on the list. In the process we developed closer relationships with each other. Five years later, this week, we celebrate 15 winners in 10 different categories, accepting nominations from partners from over 32 countries!

 

 

Even today with a more substantial budget in place, we still focus our resources to give our award winners value through case studies on the work they’ve done for one of our mutual customers, and videos and content that we share with our audience and community, rather than expensive gift packages. Through the Yotpo Partner Awards, we’re able to create immeasurable value, brand awareness, and recognition of what they do so well their jobs.

The beauty of it is that this program we created to thank our partners does unintentionally drive them business and ultimately support their business growth.

Rewarding partnerships can be easy to achieve if you think of it in context of your own personal relationships. Knowing your partners, what moves them, and what they value is the secret to a success, and from there, some simple creative tactics can get you to that win-win outcome every company hopes to achieve from a partnership program.

 

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