When I started my new gig a few months ago, I was new to building partner products. I’ve worked with many partners in the past to integrate 3rd party backend solutions, but I’d never launched a co-branded partner product.
How do you get started building a partner product, especially when each partner may have slightly different goals?
If you’re a product manager new to partner product management, here are 4 important tips to get started.
1 - Discover and document the jobs-to-be-done (problems-to-be-solved) for both the partner and the end-user.
When building a partner product, there are three sets of goals to be met - yours, your partner’s and the end-user’s.
As the product manager, you need to understand the goals of both the end-user and the partner, but you must keep the focus on the needs of the end-user.
It’s easy to get caught up in the needs of the partner company (because you want a happy partnership!), but the partner won’t benefit if you don’t solve a problem for your end-user.
2 - Have a clear onboarding process for the partner.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks documenting the all of the steps to ‘onboard’ partners into a new partner product platform. I’m working with a few different partners - all of which have varying levels of experience building software products.
If your partner isn’t used to SDLC or building digital products in general, you’ll need to be very document what steps are involved for launch-readiness, what information you need from the partner (and when!), and the entire from start to launch. This should be documented in a way that your partner can reference when needed.
Even if your partner is experienced in building digital products, you should still set clear expectations so both parties know the plan.
3 - Clarify marketing terms with the partner before you start to build.
This is more for product marketing, but as the product manager, you should make sure this task is documented and done.
Is the partner responsible for sending out emails to all their lists? On which dates and at what intervals? Is the partner promoting the product on their social media? Which platforms, how often, and with what messaging? Have you both decided on common messaging so customers hear a common voice from both your company and the partner?
While this is really product marketing’s domain, as the product manager you should keep tabs on this task, as it plays a big role in the success of a partner product.
4 - Put conversion analytics in place for launch.
Last week I was caught up in all of the technical tasks to get my partner product launched - when someone from biz dev reached out and asked ‘what conversion do you have in place?’. (At which point I quickly reached out to the analytics team to make sure we had conversion tracking in place!)
It’s likely that conversion analytics will need to be communicated to the partner from Day 1. Make sure these metrics are identified and in place before you launch! You and your partner both need clear metrics on product performance, and biz dev will need to see these numbers for cultivating future partner relationships.
It’s also likely that there will be analytics in various sales funnels that you’ll need to track in tandem with your partner. Work it out ahead of time, especially if your partner isn’t used to tagging code for conversion tracking.