5 Ways to Generate Quality Leads through Partnership Marketing
Partnership marketing has long been a core strategy for professional services firms seeking efficient ways to both grow and increase their profitability. For startups that may be on the cusp of a hot service innovation but lack market visibility and credibility, partnerships with established firms can provide much needed early recognition. Even for large firms with established brands, partnerships can be beneficial in building visibility around a new direction for the firm, for example.
And by partnership marketing, I’m not talking about simply sponsoring events. While sponsorships can certainly get you in front of the right crowd and may even generate a few leads here and there, they are more costly and less effective than partnership marketing that is more project oriented.
For example, you might consider conducting a research project with your partner or starting a special educational program. An innovative, high-profile project is more distinctive than your logo on a crowded sponsorship banner — and is a far more compelling when it comes to explaining to people why they should be doing business with you. Large, well-known businesses, trade associations or universities are all good partnering candidates.
At Hinge, we either do this ourselves with our own partners or walk our clients down the path of strategic partnership marketing. Here’s a list of the top most effective strategies that have actual results.
1. Write the definitive book on your signature topic.
This requires that you and your partner know your stuff. We always recommend that a book written in this spirit should be written for clients, not fellow professional practitioners. Probably the most time consuming of the top tactics, if you can manage to make a complicated topic easy to understand and appreciate, you and your partner will be seen as leaders by the people who matter most.
2. Produce quality webinars.
You and your partner can generate an entire webinar series around the content of your book. Webinars are a known commodity in the world of lead generation and brand building. Leverage the hard work that goes into a substantial thought piece like a book and tell the story with a compelling webinar series.
3. Conduct a groundbreaking research project.
Does a major question remain unanswered in the industry you collectively serve? Do people understand their competitors, or is perception foggy at best? Industry players rarely conduct research on their own, and when they do, they usually keep it proprietary. As service providers to the industry, you and your partner have more freedom. Do the research, share the results widely, and count the leads that come your way.
The research might be the foundation for other types of content, such as a book, a webinar series, or smaller pieces like joint white papers. The point is that research produces data, and data grounds the intuition upon which so many strategies and recommendations are built upon.
4. Develop a guest blogging strategy.
Posting your blog posts on your partner’s site accomplishes two goals in one. Having someone else pitch your expertise catapults your credibility and visibility with an audience much bigger than your own. It is also beneficial for SEO as guest posts drive traffic directly to your site and increase your search engine visibility. Just as with your own blog strategy, make sure the blog you’re pitching to your partner’s site is something that potential clients and referral sources want to read — having a blog just to have one won’t cut it. And it isn’t the time for your sales pitch.
5. Organize a specialized program.
While the bulk of the most effective strategies are going to have a digital component to them, more traditional means work too. Conference participation is a proven way to build credibility around your expertise and generate leads. Speaking and sponsorships are both tried and true. But you want to be a leader.
Why not be bold and develop your own specialized conference with a known partner? Let’s say your IT firm handles cloud computing security, and you have customers in the health care industry. Instead of presenting a panel at a health care conference, organize an entirely separate event centered on your topic. Set a clear focus on an emerging niche that is not currently addressed. Keep the conference small and specific at first, bringing in as many partners as needed to make it successful. As the conference grows, so will your audience.
Another type of highly effective program is a high-profile interview series. Let’s say that you market your services to CIOs. Imagine that you set up video interviews with the most visible CIOs from the entire industry you serve. Now all these high-profile CIOs know your firm. Other CIOs are interested in what the leading CIOs have to say; now they are also exposed to your firm. Everyone assumes that your firm knows a great deal about CIOs (which it does). In short, you generate leads through the promotion of others’ credibility and visibility. Make sure to share the full videos, excerpts, summaries, etc. in a variety of formats to maximize your overall visibility. Whether on your own or with a partner, educational programs deliver the goods.
Not convinced or think these are too time consuming to actually make happen? Like anything, once you get past the exploratory phase, things can fall into place surprisingly fast – as long as you’re aligning your partnership marketing strategy with your core capabilities. The above strategies are really about jointly promoting your expertise so that you can spread the marketing work load when it comes to the nurturing and promotion that needs to happen for an effective lead gen campaign. They also allow you to leverage each other’s customers, contacts, and other partnerships that might be in place, and lastly, your own customers can benefit from an expanded referral pool of trusted resources.
An Emerging Theme In Thematic Investing
Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are popular vehicles for market participants looking to engage in thematic investing. Thematic investing looks to take advantage of future growth trends, including disruptive technologies. Given that forward-looking approach, stock-picking in the thematic universe is equally as hard, if not harder, than in traditional market segments.
Go back to the late 1990s, before the bursting of the Internet/technology bubble. Back then, investors stood an equal chance of selecting E-Toys over Amazon or some no longer in existence networking equipment maker over Cisco.
“History is littered with examples of prospering industries with no indication of which company will come to dominate the industry,” according to Nasdaq. “This suggests that successful thematic investing is more about selecting baskets of investments rather than single securities.”1
The ALPS Disruptive Technologies ETF (DTEC) provides basket exposure to a broad swath of thematic investments. DTEC features exposure to not just one or two emerging technologies, but 10 such themes on an equal-weight basis.
The 10 themes represented in DTEC are as follows: 3D printing, clean energy, cloud computing, cybersecurity, data and analytics, fintech, healthcare innovation, Internet of Things (IoT), mobile payments and robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).
Generally speaking, fund issuers have been quick to respond to disruptive and transformative technologies, bringing products to market to tap these themes. Prior to DTEC coming to market late last year, there were ETFs devoted exclusively to cloud computing, cybersecurity, robotics and other themes featured in DTEC. However, few use the basket approach to themes employed by DTEC.
February, a rough month for U.S. stocks, highlighted the advantages of DTEC's multi-theme methodology. Seven of the 10 themes found in the fund finished the month lower, but DTEC was able to outperform the S&P 500 on a monthly basis.
Focusing on individual themes can be rewarding over the long-term, but not all investors have the risk tolerance for such a strategy. Consider this: the Indxx Global Robotics & Artificial Intelligence Thematic Index jumped more than 48% in 2017. That type of performance is enough to seduce many investors, but that same benchmark slipped 7.60% in February, generating monthly volatility of 34.10%.2 Said another way, that robotics and AI index's February slide was more than triple the loss experienced by DTEC during the month.
While it probably is not accurate to call the indexes devoted to individual disruptive themes “old,” many use old school weighting methodologies. For example, the two largest components in the ISE Cloud Computing Index are Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN). Only two members of the S&P 500 have larger market values than Amazon while Netflix currently has a larger market cap than Wal-Mart (WMT) and McDonald's (MCD).
Holdings subject ot change as of 12/31/17
For its part, DTEC not only equally weights its 10 disruptive themes, but its 100 components as well, potentially reducing single stock risk in the process. As the chart below confirms, equally weighting stocks is rewarding across sectors and market capitalization segments.
Past performance does not guarantee future results
Annualized returns for the past 10 years show seven of the 11 S&P 500 sectors, when equally weighted, outperform cap-weighted equivalents, according to S&P. Three of those seven sectors – financial services, healthcare and technology – are prominent parts of DTEC's roster.
1 Source: Nasdaq Dec. 28, 2015 https://www.nasdaq.com/article/what-thematic-investing-is-and-its-strengths-and-risks-cm559209
2 Source: ETF Replay data
An investor should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing. To obtain a prospectus which contain this and other information call 866.675.2639 or visit www.alpsfunds.com. Read the prospectus carefully before investing.
An investment in the ALPS Disruptive Technologies ETF (DTEC) may be subject to substantially greater risk and volatility than investments in larger and more mature technology companies.
There is no assurance that the market developments and sector growth based upon the themes discussed in the article will come to pass.
ALPS Disruptive Technologies ETF shares are not individually redeemable. Investors buy and sell shares of the ALPS Disruptive Technologies ETF on a secondary market. Only market makers or “authorized participants” may trade directly with the Fund, typically in blocks of 50,000 shares.
ALPS Advisors, Inc. (AAI) has engaged IRIS Werks, LLC (IRIS) to produce analysis and commentary on ALPS-advised ETFs. IRIS currently has a compensated business relationship with AAI. AAI is not affiliated with IRIS.
The content and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author and not the views and opinions of AAI. In addition, AAI assumes no responsibility to ensure the accuracy of the content written by the author.
There are risks involved with investing in ETFs including the loss of money. Additional information regarding the risks of this investment is available in the prospectus. Past Performance is not indicative of future results.
The fund is new and has limited operating history.
ALPS Portfolio Solutions Distributor, Inc. is the distributor for the ALPS Disruptive Technologies ETF. AAI is affiliated with ALPS Portfolio Solutions Distributor, Inc.
The author is not an investment professional and this article should not be considered investment advice. While the information and statistical data contained herein are based on sources believed to be reliable, the author takes no responsibility to ensure the accuracy of the content. Additionally, this article should not be relied on or be the basis for an investment decision. Information that is historical is not indicative of future results, and subject to change.
S&P 500®: A capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries.
S&P SmallCap 600®: A capitalization-weighted index that measures the small-cap segment of the U.S. equity market.
S&P MidCap 400®: A capitalization-weighted index that measures the mid-cap segment of the U.S. equity market.
Indxx Global Robotics & Artifical Intelligence Thematic Index: The Indxx Global Robotics & Artificial Intelligence Thematic Index is designed to track the performance of companies listed in developed markets that are expected to benefit from the increased adoption and utilization of robotics and Artificial Intelligence ("AI"), including companies involved in Industrial Robotics and Automation, Non-Industrial Robots, Artificial Intelligence and Unmanned Vehicles.
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