ThreeSixtyEight is proud to partner with Influence & Co., a marketing agency that specializes in creating engaging content that fuels companies’ content marketing efforts and positions their key employees as influencers in their industries.
We sat down with Matt Kamp of Influence & Co. to discuss exactly how client partnerships work in small businesses.
A Conversation with Influence & Co.
What works and what doesn’t work in agency partner programs?
For us, education is a really big part of it. We’re educating partners and helping them understand who can really help out.
Outside of that, it’s feedback. We make sure we have a feedback loop where, if they send us a referral, we’ll take that and run with it. If it’s a great referral, awesome, we’ll let the partner know why it was great. If it’s not a great referral, that’s fine too. We stay transparent and let them know what happened.
Rewarding partners is another big deal. We like to reward anyone who has referred to us. That can be monetary, like a referral fee, or intangible, like introductions or even pro bono work. We make sure we show we’re appreciative to our partners.
Are there any tactics that you find very helpful with keeping in touch with agencies in a partnership network?
Keeping in touch with partners is definitely the key to motivating and incentivizing partnerships.
We’ve seen gifting programs work really well. One cool thing that we’ve sent out is Influence & Co. socks, actually! It can be as small as that.
Other than gifts, we also like to meet up face-to-face and treat them to a drink or something if we’re in their city. We’ve held workshops before and invited our clients to join, we’ve helped them with press opportunities; just anything to make connections to help our client.
When you pick your partners, do you pick ones with a specific capability or one with multiple capabilities?
For us, we try to be relatively niche in terms of what we can do. We don’t see ourselves as the only solution, we’re just a piece of the puzzle. Because of that, we’re in a good position to bring in other partners for projects.
So we signature ourselves, but we can refer out to general agencies or specific partners.
What do you consider when choosing a partner agency?
If we’re sending a referral to an agency, we look at examples of past work. We look at people they’ve worked with or case studies they’ve done. We also really try to dig deep in our research and find out who exactly they can help best within our company.
The size of the company, the industry, the budget, these are what we call “trigger phrases”. It’s basically what are those things that a company is saying that will match up with whoever needs help.
As far as when people refer to us, if they are talking to people that they think we can help, we try to be pretty open. We’ve gotten referrals from a lot of different areas, from marketing managers to writers.
What’s your onboarding process in regards to partnerships?
We send over a couple materials first, anything from packets to a landing page. With that, we usually have an onboarding survey. It’s pretty casual; it just figures out what partners like to do and helps dig a little bit deeper. We send all of that over with the intention to get a little more information on how best to maintain this partnership over time.
After that, there’s a little more paperwork for more active partners, and if they’re very, very active with us, we’ll send someone over to train whoever will be our advocate within the agency.
Do you truly believe that partnership structures with agencies are a good way to grow a company?
I think it’s extremely important. For us, referrals have been one of our biggest lead sources since day one. I think it’s a sign of a healthy agency, in general.
If you can figure out that niche where you can fit in with other agencies, then it can be super powerful.
What’s the best way to project manage a referred account that trusts you more than the outsourced agency?
We’ve had some partners that are very active in this process. To transfer trust, we’ll have the partners on the very first introduction call with the other company. We’ll even do a little presentation on how we work and how our partners work with us in tandem. That way the education is there, but so is the expectation.
Overall, it’s just being able to say “We trust these guys. Look at the work they’ve done in the past.” If we supply it the right way and introduce the two because they’re a good fit, the client will usually trust them because we trust them.
Being transparent the entire time, and showing the “why” behind it will go a long way.
Do you maintain contact with these outsourced agencies and your client after it’s out of your hands?
It depends. We’ve had some partners who are really active with us. With them we’ll keep tabs on the client. Most of the time when I send an intro, they’ll work independently of us though. I can make recommendations, but unless it’s a really active role, I trust that they will connect together.