The Rise of the Ecosystem Mindset – 4 Strategies to Be Successful

The development of a new “ecosystem mindset” is a result of ecosystems growing and restructuring. This crucial route to market requires a shift from technology push to a strategy dialogue, sharing information and building joint value propositions that bring the strengths of both organizations to the end customer, regardless of partner size. With a growing number of companies working together, the IT market is becoming increasingly interconnected. McKinsey calls this “Ecosystem 2.0” because it predicts that technology companies will be more collaborative and work together.
Coterie Marketing and University of Huddersfield conducted research that found that the ecosystem was experiencing a greater restructuring in 2020. The traditional tiers and levels of the ecosystem were confusing. Partner marketers needed to monitor and respond to both end-user and partner needs.
Jay McBain, Forrester’s 2021 channel marketing predictions author, introduces the concept of the ecosystem mindset. He talks about the Rise of the Ecosystem Orchestrator and how much of the focus is on the technology, programmatic and process elements of ecosystems. He also asks: What about the people? What is the ecosystem mindset?
My role is unique in that I oversee both technology partners who come into our business and channel partners who resell our products. I have a complete 360-degree view on the partner world, from activating inbound partners to reselling our services to channel partners. I am the partner and outbound, i.e. I am working with our partner. This 360-degree view requires an ecosystem mentality, which I have been advocating for some time. I see an increase in the need for partner marketing as a result of digitization and cloud. No one tech company can do everything; no one partner can create the entire technology stack. Partner marketing is an important way to market businesses. It requires a new approach.
These are my four ways to adopt this new mindset.
Ideas to Share
To help the market respond, bring new ideas and innovations to your partners. Partner portfolios are becoming more complex because of the growing ecosystem and move to Anything-as-a-Service (XaaS). It is crucial to begin with a strategic dialog that includes sharing information and building joint business plans. It is not possible for any business to operate in isolation. It is about adjacency – “we’re better together.” We all respond to common trends, such as the workforce pivot during the pandemic. To help their partners adapt to the changing market, vendors need to bring new ideas and concepts.
Be Different
To create a campaign that is easy to build and execute, take a different approach when creating a joint value proposition. Once you have a joint plan that includes the target market, it is time to create a compelling joint value proposition. This should include the customer’s pain points and what each partner brings. These are not transactional relationships in which the vendor takes the partner’s value proposition. It must be distinctive and stand out from the crowd.
Coach, don’t sell
Coaching sales teams to handle objections will help you empower them. A healthy channel ecosystem can only be built if you listen and coach your partners. Technology vendors may often try to run sales campaigns through their partners by promoting their ‘products’. These are not small tasks for the partner. They often don’t get all the sales collateral and training they need to properly educate their sales team. Or they are directed to a portal where they can add their logo, customize, push go. This is the old technology push mindset. An ecosystem mindset involves investing time and resources to understand your end customers. To support them in this new approach with their time and resources.
Be succinct and specific
Support partners in major bids and account-based advertising. It is now about bringing the strengths of both organizations to the customer, regardless of how large the partner may be. This is important because I have found that small partner organizations are more agile than large ones. Therefore, their size should not diminish their value to vendors. It is important to be specific and direct in your assistance to partners.
Rob Reynolds is the Global Partner Marketing Lead at Verizon. The views and opinions expressed in the content are solely the responsibility of the author.
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