Better Together: Customer Advocacy and Partner Marketing

March 1, 2023

Partner marketing teams are an often untapped resource to build your pool of customer advocates — especially as more businesses rely on IT partners to modernize their operations using integrative technologies, managed services, and more.

I often encounter a familiar challenge: getting Customer Advocacy and Partner Marketing teams to work better together.

Below are several tips to align Partner Marketing and Customer Advocacy through a more effective working relationship that benefits both programs.

Why should Customer Advocacy and Partner Marketing align more closely?

Partners play a critical role in technology companies’ success — sometimes generating 70% or more of sales. They are frequently viewed as the go-to resource for businesses that can’t adopt new technologies without support.

If a partner is a managed service provider, they might have an even closer relationship with a customer than your account team. As such, they offer previously inaccessible contacts and provide deeper insights into customer experiences.

Equally important, partners often interact daily with potential advocates.

What’s important to keep in mind?

There are several things to keep in mind as you strengthen collaboration between Customer Advocacy and Partner Marketing teams:

  • Create guidelines around priority partners, types of partner engagements, and other details to help identify the right partners and types of advocates to engage.
  • Find commonalities — both teams share many of the same goals when it comes to highlighting customer (and partner) success; be clear on those.
  • Engage in planning conversations early on to determine who will handle outreach, content development, and story amplification to prevent delays, duplication of efforts, or missed opportunities.

When should Advocacy teams engage Partner Marketing to support activities?

This answer is simple: from the beginning. Start by ensuring partners are identified as part of the advocate nomination process and have your advocacy managers always ask if customers worked with a partner — and what the partner did.

By building these simple questions into qualification processes, advocacy managers will know if partners are involved and whether this customer is already on the partner team’s radar.

When a partner is involved, the partner marketing team should have the opportunity to take part in the process. Partner marketers, like product marketers, have good insights into an implementation and can help outline a partner’s (and the overall) value propositions and competitive differentiators. In the case of MSPs, the partner might even know more than the customer about the full portfolio of products deployed.

By including a partner marketer in the storytelling process, the advocacy team can expect to better understand a customer’s implementation — and resulting impacts — in much more detail.

How do you improve storytelling across Partner Marketing and Customer Advocacy?

  • Eliminate redundant efforts: It’s not unusual for Partner Marketing and Customer Advocacy programs to approach potential advocates separately. Again, be sure to coordinate.
  • Find alignment and develop integrated stories: Agree on the level of detail devoted to partners in stories. In a written piece, this might translate to a couple paragraphs highlighting a partner’s involvement, while a video might include an interview not just with the customer contact but also with the main partner lead. The goal is to develop an integrated story that conveys a customer’s entire journey, including partner engagement.

Where are partner programs heading in terms of advocacy strategies?

With more companies emphasizing partner engagement, organizations want to highlight stories that show faster adoption, enhanced ROI through use of technology, and ultimately increased sales.

Increasing collaboration between tech companies and their partners should further embed partner programs into customer marketing. As many of the most effective marketing strategies incorporate real-world customer impacts, integrating advocacy and partner programs will be key to enhancing customer story quality and volume.

Things to look out for as advocacy and partner teams look to work together more effectively

Communication and coordination are key. Once the two teams understand each other’s priorities, processes need to be in place that keep advocacy managers and partner marketers aligned. This can be as simple as a monthly check-in between advocacy managers and partner managers, biweekly status recaps, and brief — but documented — goals for each customer engagement.

There will undoubtedly be times when a partner manager develops their own story without engaging the customer advocacy team, just as there will be stories developed by an advocacy manager that don’t mention a partner. These should all be viewed as learning moments — investigate where communication or processes broke down and how to avoid that in the future.

If you’d like more ideas about how to better integrate your Partner Marketing and Customer Advocacy Programs, drop us a note at

van der Heiden
Senior Account Manager

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