Why Partnerships Are The Third Revenue Channel For Growth (With Impact's Scott Brazina)
Tricia Gellman: Hi everybody. This is Tricia Gellman, the CMO of Drift. And I'm excited to have you here for another episode of CMO conversations. At the CMO conversations, I'm trying to help people understand the future of the role of the CMO. Because as we can see, CMO's are being pushed more and more to take responsibility for revenue. And I think this is really important because the CMO has a very strategic role. And even though the news talks about how CMO's have very short tenure, I think those CMOs who are really embracing revenue and embracing their role as a strategic connector across the organization are seeing a lot of traction and making a big impact. One of those CMO's is Scott Brazina, who is here. He is the CMO of Impact. A company that's transforming the way enterprises manage and optimize all types of partnerships. And we haven't spoken at all in any of the episodes about partners who are really important to the growth of companies. And so, Scott, maybe you can introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your role and about impact.
Scott Brazina: Yeah. Great, great, exciting to be here at Tricia. Thanks for having me, excited to join the podcast. Yeah, hi everybody. I'm Scott Brazina CMO of Impact. I joined Impact in 2017. My range of responsibility is typical as CMO in charge of Impact's global marketing strategy. We're on a mission for new category creation of software. So category creation, brand building thought leadership is a big part of it. Demand gen, product marketing and PR and comms. And I'd add that it's all done with a highly B2B targeted AVMS approach, account- based marketing and selling...
Tricia Gellman: Which is also a big trend for CMO's, I would say, especially in enterprise B2B.
Scott Brazina: Yeah. And I'd put a big emphasis on the fact that there's an M and S not just account based marketing, but tightly integrated with sales. So that's the way we view it here. And it's kind of my history. I have a long track record of growing B2B enterprise SAS revenue and had a successful software category creation experience in the product development software space for seven years, with a big NASDAQ$ 10 billion market cap, public company called PTC. And so that was a category creation from traditional design space to a broader product life cycle management. And then also in the MarTech market with Data Zoo and Dine and Data Zoo acquired by Roku and Dine acquired by Oracle. Glad to be here.
Tricia Gellman: A big history of acquisitions and PTC, great customer of Drift. And we've done sessions with Marianna who is leading digital transformation over there being headquartered in Boston. We know PTC really, really well. So now at Impact, I think one of the big things that you, your team talk about is the power of partnerships. And even when we were speaking before we talked about what you're calling the partnership economy, what does this mean? And where do you see partnerships playing a role for CMOs, for marketers, for the growth of companies in the next five to 10 years?
Scott Brazina: Yeah, it's a great question. And really timely. It's rapidly evolving to maybe orient us with some language. We think of it this way. There's the partnership economy starting at the top. So at the highest level, there's the partnership economy, which we view as the collective growth and revenue opportunities of today's wide range of modern partnerships. A companies partner ecosystem is comprised of a breadth of partnership types. The modern ones, more current ones are really online, digitally enabled or digitally accelerated for scale and reach. And these are things like affiliates and influencers and mobile app partnerships and brand- to- publisher brand- to- content ambassadors, brand- to- brand BizDev relationships that are done digitally crosstalk to name a few. And then there's lastly the last of those partnerships economy, partnership ecosystems. And then finally there is the traditional framework of people process and technology that brings that to life. And on the technology piece, there's this new, this gets to the category creation. There's this new emerging category of software called partnership automation that enables world- class partnerships and the management and growth of them.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah, I think this session is going to be really engaging because I think as a marketer, or even if you talk to salespeople, there's always this struggle of, what is the true value of partners and how do you measure that? And I think this new category you're talking about is really set out to help address that challenge of what is the partner doing? What is your own marketing doing? What is your own sales team doing? How do you bring all these things together to create more transparency and then in aggregate help to grow a company? So I think you mentioned before that there's been a lot of research recently on the impact that partners are having to companies and the growth rates related to companies that are really leveraging these modern and also traditional partner paths.
Scott Brazina: Yeah. We've been investing heavily in primary research over the last three years. In fact, just this week, we released a nine month study with Forrester. It's our second version of the next level of thought leadership work that we're doing in the space with Forrester. But starting back to the first one, two years ago, we did a global nine month study with Forester to quantify the value of partnerships, trying to address the why. Why are partnerships critical to enterprise growth today? And try and get some numbers globally around it.
Tricia Gellman: Yep.
Scott Brazina: So that was a global study over nine months of foreign 50 companies across APAC, EMEA and the United States. That research showed that the advantage that mature, advanced partnership companies have over the immature grouping, a two x advantage over meeting or exceeding the company's highest level financial goals.
Tricia Gellman: Wow.
Scott Brazina: So that was a little over two and a half years ago and the way that our prospect and customer base and the media reacted to it was okay, fantastic. This is a lot of interesting information. And where the discussion is advanced is okay, I got it. It does make sense. That's a third new major channel of revenue. If you think sales channels, marketing revenue channels, and now the collection of partnerships. It's a big channel growth. So now tell me how. And so that's the latest version of research that we just published last week.
Tricia Gellman: There's a lot of different things that go into successful partnership. And I think you have this specialized group of people who are partner managers, right? Clearly those people have a lot of history, but then they come to marketing and they're looking for help and they want to extend the brand with the partners. So what would your advice be to me? We are going to open up a partner marketing role. What do I need, do I need a person who has skills, product marketing, good at messaging, good at creating solution messaging? Do I need a person who's good at demand and saying, creatively, let me think of new programs that we can do together. What's your advice?
Scott Brazina: A great place to start is a rockstar affiliate marketer. And then I would cross them with those other traditional marketing centers. To help on content, get them on point.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah. Which I think is a normal way. Because I think most companies don't start and say the first thing we're going to do as partners, that hasn't been my experience. And so I think you do have those other teams first, and then you need to leverage what they're doing, not start from scratch. But figure out how do you leverage the demand programs, the content you have, the messages you have, etc. in, through your partner channels.
Scott Brazina: Yeah. And then an influencer team or bringing on somebody that's an expert in influencer relationships. And then we have some of our advanced partnership management, leadership executives at companies like Uber and Airbnb, customers of ours. It was two years ago at a major industry event where the Uber and Air there's five executives on the panel. And somebody asked about partnership breadth. And really the conference was about affiliate marketing. They asked about how are you growing your programs so fast just for the affiliates. And it was a big room and the Airbnb executive held up his business card and he says, you can't see it from back there. But my title no longer says director of affiliate marketing it's director of growth. And then the Uber executive did the same thing and he used a different title. And what you heard was, they both started from affiliate and now they're managing also the influencer team. So you see, see that even...
Tricia Gellman: Yeah you just see this exponential growth.
Scott Brazina: Yeah. Yeah.
Tricia Gellman: So, I think it's really interesting. I think it's very untapped in a lot of companies because they've been reticent to say, how are we going to trust people who are not in our building, on our domain? Having the drift email or whatever it might be. And so I think the idea of trust is really, really, really important because 1. I think that like CMOs today are trying to build experiences and we're trying to build our brand. And honestly, the world is way too noisy. And when there's a noisy world, you have to figure out how are you going to filter things out and you're going to filter it out based on which brands you trust. That's one of the number one factors.
Scott Brazina: Right.
Tricia Gellman: So tell me more about how you approach trust and how you think about trust in a partner world.
Scott Brazina: I think it's just because of the years, and then now the clutter and the volume that all buyers today are a little bit numb to the sales pitch or the marketing pitch. Right? A quick way through that is somebody that I trust.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah.
Scott Brazina: Right? A partner, another CMO that I can share ideas with or whatever. Right? That's the highest level of trust, right? So that's like one advantage that using partnerships have, because if you're doing a partnership as one brand with another brand, that brand, you're complimentary, that brand already has a trusted relationship with their customers. Right? If that brand is now willing and excited about partnering with you, in delivering a message to their customers.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah. I mean, it's a full on endorsement.
Scott Brazina: That I think at the highest level is one of the advantages of using partners, right?
Tricia Gellman: Yeah.
Scott Brazina: That's a trust advantage. Once you have that partnership brand- to- brand and you're executing your partnership, there's this more detailed level of trust that you have to look after, particularly when you scale and have scores, hundreds or even thousands of partners, right? Brand integrity.
Tricia Gellman: I think that is something that's difficult for people is, how many partners can you manage and how many people can you engage with. And I think that is where the solution that you're offering with Impact becomes very interesting. And I think it is a newer category because, there's clearly a need for it. I mean, this is a really big gap of within your own company. How do you bring together the marketers, the demand, people, the BizDev people who are managing the relationship with the partners. And then how do you do that at- scale across multiple partnerships? Especially as you start to see success. And let's say you haven't done it, and then all of a sudden the partners are coming to you saying, we want to work with you. You don't want to be in this situation where you could dramatically scale your business. And then you have to say no, because you have no way to measure and engage and kind of work together. So definitely like all different things that are going on there.
Scott Brazina: Yeah. It's ripe for automation. Look, if it's you and five customers, you can do a spreadsheet and you can do it mechanically. But at scale you got to have technology.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah. But now we have it, right? So I think that's the double- edged sword. We have the technology to be able to do these things. And so then people expect it.
Scott Brazina: Back to the front of being a marketer today.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah, exactly. That's what I was going to say. The fun is, now people expect it. You have to learn it. The downside is people expect it. So if you don't do it, then you know, you're in the back burner because somebody else is doing it or they're leveraging their partners to do it. So, you got to stay on your toes all the time.
Scott Brazina: You didn't mention it earlier, but we're a Drift customer as well. There's a great new channel and a great new solution. And forward leaning companies are figuring out how to use something like Drift for a major touch points.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah. I mean, I think that's one of our benefits. Positioning is personalization at scale, you need to have that ability to when the person jumps onto your website, understand who they are and what does it usually say to them because it's an opportunity you don't want to miss.
Scott Brazina: And it gets back to that trust thing that we talked about and the value of partnership, right? It's the simple axioms like gravity exists, right? It's on that level. It's like, cause you can get really wrapped around the axle with all these channels and ideas and lose sight of the forest through the trees.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah. I couldn't agree more. And we've had a good conversation here. Opening people's eyes to the partner world. It's very interesting. It's something I think everybody needs to start to think about. We always close the episode with one consistent question. And that is, if you had one lesson that you want to share with the audience, what's the one thing that you want to share that you've learned throughout your career that you think other people should, if they haven't learned it yet, go take your advice and focus on it?
Scott Brazina: Wow. That's a heavy one. You actually just said the word, the first thing that comes to my mind is focus. And so I'm going to say second thing cause they're, I think they're tied. They're twins are tied at the hip, focus and perseverance. There's so much going on, forest through the trees, you can get distracted by all these different, the noise, the tail focus on the things that are key. Figure out what they are, focus on them and just keep going, learn from it. Try, learn, optimize, but keep going. You know what true north is.
Tricia Gellman: And when you say perseverance, do you mean just keep at it right? Learn, grow, learn, grow, like you just said? Or is there something else you mean when you say have perseverance?
Scott Brazina: I think at a micro level and a macro level perseverance on your campaigns, and fail fast, hopefully not fail, but learn from it. Plan, do check, act and measure and fix and go. But then look, raise your eyes every very now make sure you're heading in the right direction. You're still on focus to the main end goal. You didn't get distracted by some other request, particularly in marketing, right? How many times your OKR's are changing. You get requests, they were locked just three weeks ago, now there's 20% new stuff. And it's like, what's got to give? You get distracted by the thing of the day, but staying on point for your true north or north's, a few true north's, that's the macro focus. And then the perseverance is just keep working fast and tacking and jiving quickly. But making sure you're moving in the right Uber direction.
Tricia Gellman: I love those two things, and they do work really well together, the focus and the perseverance. And I liked the way you described the perseverance as really learn, fail fast, continue. Don't continue pig headed in one direction. You're not going to give up on it, but use that north star that direction to kind of learn and grow. And I think we've been talking about the future of the role of the CMO and why it's exciting. Why it's exciting is because it's always changing. And so if you have that north star, you can adapt and you can say, hey, this is a growing career. I'm going to grow my career. I'm going to grow what I can do for my company and how I can add value to the company, by testing new things, by bringing things to the table, by learning from them, continuing to grow, throw things away that didn't work, but like continue to evolve. And I think that's really a key characteristic of a marketing leader today. Is somebody who can put it together, that mix, lead their team with the true north and at the same time innovate and continue to grow and help the team figure out how to do that. So thank you so much for joining us today. If people want to get in touch with you, is it best to follow you on Twitter on LinkedIn, email? How would you like people to get in touch with you to continue this conversation?
Scott Brazina: LinkedIn would be great. I'm always on LinkedIn. That'd be, it'd be a wonderful way. And of course, Twitter as well. I'm very interested in networking.
Tricia Gellman: Excellent. This has been a great new perspective on the importance of partnerships. It's something else that we need to consider as marketers. And as we look at the future of marketing, is this distributed concept. And so, if you are listening and you have another angle of marketing that you think is just something that's really pressing on the future, please connect with me in LinkedIn, follow me, add comments to this episode, let us know other things that you think we should be focusing on. And also give me other names. I mean, it's been great to meet Scott. I didn't know him before. We decided to have him on the episode here, but always exciting to bring forward thinking CMOs to the table, especially people who are attaching to this idea of partnering with sales, driving revenue, and really bringing value to their organization. So thank you so much, Scott.
Scott Brazina: Thank you, Trisha. It's been a lot of fun.