Navigating Partner Marketing with Rachel Gianfredi

Navigating Partner Marketing with Rachel Gianfredi

Rachel Gianfredi is the lead Partner Marketer at G2, building memorable and impactful go-to-market strategies for its data integrations and partnerships. She has a decade of experience in marketing for data and SaaS companies – from bootstrap to unicorn status. In this article, Rachel talks about how she started her career in partnerships and shares her unique perspective on great Partner Marketing practices.

By: Juhi Saha

Rachel Gianfredi is the lead Partner Marketer at G2, building memorable and impactful go-to-market strategies for its data integrations and partnerships. She has a decade of experience in marketing for data and SaaS companies – from bootstrap to unicorn status. In this article, Rachel talks about how she started her career in partnerships and shares her unique perspective on great Partner Marketing practices.

Juhi: Rachel, tell me a bit about yourself. How did you get into partner marketing? How long have you been in partnerships? What has this journey looked like for you?

Rachel Gianfredi, Partner Marketing expert.

Rachel: I kind of fell into partnerships, as many people do. I would say, there’s no kind of clear path or a defined path for partnerships folks. Early on in my career, I was an events marketer, and I really enjoyed building relationships with people. Then my role shifted into more of an ABM type of role, but this was before ABM was a thing. I would create events and focus on specific account relationships, whether in partnership with specific brands or with a focus of leaning into certain relationships and amplifying them. 

That opened the door to not just building cross-functional relationships internally, but also external relationships. That got me working with CEOs and CMOS, putting together large scale events. As I learned more about their businesses, I really focused on and learned that I loved the relationships building. 

After that, an opportunity in Product Marketing opened up. And that’s where I sharpened my arrows in Product Marketing, which led to my segue into tech partnerships at a data company. The data company’s product was only as good as the integrations that it had because it was built on other platforms and for other platforms. 

A lot of what I was doing in product marketing was focusing on other companies’ software, and how we integrated with them. That’s  how I fell into the very niche role of partner product marketing. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Some people often ask me: Are you a product marketer? Are you a partner marketer? And I always say, like any marketer, it depends on the audience. My role shifts, based on what is needed and relevant at the time. 

Juhi: It sounds like the ability to adapt and learn and keep growing has been crucial in your career journey and success. What were the parts of this journey that you liked and those you didn’t? And how would you define your zone of genius? What skills have you picked up along the way?

I would say my zone of genius is definitely on the side of relationships building, but also on structure and taking initiative. I’m also often the person who is in on product conversations early and often. I really l how the sausage is made, for lack of a better term, right from the start is really helpful for me to do my job.

What I do is act as the translator of the product to our audience. My role is to make it digestible; easy to understand what certain products and very technical complex things to do and the value that it’s going to offer to the end customer and user. I really enjoy navigating complex technical environments and deriving things like a value proposition at a higher level, and focusing on what it means to an end user. So that’s what I really love. I probably would say my not zone of genius is standing up measurements and analytics.

I definitely strive to have certain measurements in place, so I can very clearly define what kind of metrics I’m trying to pull and be able to understand the results of my initiatives. But if you hand me the data and ask me to visualize it, or create a visualization dashboard, I will bring in an expert in that domain. So I’m an analytical person regarding being pretty inquisitive, a good listener, and asking the right questions in the right scenarios, but definitely not on the actual data analytics side. I like to say I can market the heck out of data and its value, but using and analyzing it isn’t my zone of genius.

Key metrics for success

Juhi: You mentioned that measuring things is really important. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. So what do you see is the Northstar of measurement metrics in partner marketing?

Rachel: Absolutely. I think there’s a stereotype that says marketing can’t be measured. I’m trying to debunk that a little by getting specific in partner marketing. I’m super excited that I am one of the first people at G2 to measure partner marketing specifically. We’ve reached a really big milestone this quarter in being able to capture certain things that are pretty nuanced.

We’ve had marketing measurements and Partnerships has always been a key to that. But specifically the things we focus on, and what’s important to us and marketing, are things like: How much pipeline opportunity do we have? How much are we giving the opportunity for sales to open the pipeline?

There’s all this talk around marketing as measured by pipeline, but to take a quote from our VP of revenue marketing, who’s really great at measurement,  marketing doesn’t open the pipeline; they just open the gates to the opportunity for pipeline. So what we really focus on are MQLs (marketing qualified leads): the number of leads specifically driven from partner efforts that can be followed up by sellers. Are they in our ICP? Do they have significant enough engagement with G2? Do they demonstrate interest? We have lead scoring behind that, and attribution. 

Then the other two metrics that we really measure are pipeline-influenced opportunities and partner marketing sourced pipeline. The first one measures the number of open opportunities that have interacted with a partner marketing campaign or initiative/content throughout their journey. The second one captures when a contact becomes an MQL because of its interaction with partner marketing. So pipeline-influenced, pipeline sourced, and MQLs are the main things we look at. And then we can measure some other things through some cool tools that we have at our disposal, things such as what attribution, what percentage of the overall opportunity can be attributed to partner marketing. So say this opportunity of $100k opened, but throughout its journey, they interacted with many different touch points and different actions took place throughout their journey. Partner may be attributed, say, 20% of that $100k opportunity based on how much interaction it had with partner marketing materials. It’s being fully built out, but we’re getting there and that’s exciting.

Juhi: That’s huge! Because data drives where you focus and what you prioritize. How are you using that data? What other tools or tactics are you using to prioritize which partners to give attention to and what to do each quarter or each year?

Rachel: We definitely leverage Crossbeam a lot. It’s really cool to be able to identify how much overlap in existing business we have or new business potential. And that is definitely something that I look at from a marketing perspective and in how specifically we can segment our audiences to drive not only adoption from our customers, but also new business.

There are certain integrations that lend themselves to being the entry point for new opportunities. Others might just be a very highly demanded feature among our existing customers. Usually what I do is weigh out the impact on each audience that we could have across the data we have at our disposal with Crossbeam. Of course, I’m looking at attribution and campaigns to see which ones we know would be low, medium high lift; anecdotally, that’s the kind of qualitative feedback that I’m able to capture, because I’ve run that certain program. 

So I also look at how we can optimize the output that we are driving home to our prospect and customer audiences, without over saturating the same people. For some partners where we have a really, really, really high overlap in audiences. Other partners offer the most opportunity in reaching new audiences that we’re trying to capture and gain more market share in.

That’s usually our starting point– the data is the validation on that. Then, we can validate that a particular partner campaign actually did drive the most pipeline source in a quarter, and so we will continue to do XYZ with them in the future. If a partner doesn’t necessarily drive the impact that it was supposed to, didn’t open or influence any pipeline, we’ll shift gears. We might create a more evergreen asset that has long-term utility, as opposed to something that is thought leadership and more of a ‘moment in time’ asset.

Partner Marketing and cross-functional teams

Juhi: It sounds like you work cross-functionally with all of these different teams. Can you share your thoughts on what good cross-functional engagement looks like? And, if you had all the resources in the world, what would the structure of the perfect partner marketing team look like?

Well, right now, I’m in a team of one in partner marketing, so I’m the only partner marketer. I have a lot of hopes and dreams about what that dream partner marketing team would look like, but my team is cross-functional right now. That is working very, very closely with product and dedicated product managers who build integrations. And then I also work very closely, of course, with the partnerships team, which is led by a VP, a Director, and then four partner account managers that each have a book. 

Each of their partners are often asking for partner marketing resources, whether it be new integration launches, co-marketing, ongoing resources, or even enhancements to tech integrations. All of these are “moments” for marketing. We adapt and grow with the needs of our customers and the market. Like the integration as it was built in,  isn’t going to be the end-all solution for our customers and prospects. So, the natural dedication to partner marketing is supporting launches and big moments. But then there are also supporting moments that are important. So co-marketing, or integration enhancement feature releases. I also sit in a unique position in that I’m directly on the product marketing team, so those partners are rolled into product marketing’s big moments. We work closely with sales enablement too, which is a very, very close cross-functional partner of mine. Sales enablement is humongous to the success of partner marketing and partnerships at large.

Partner marketing really deserves its own function. We have these existing integrations that each have huge opportunities for leaning into things like new feature sets, partner events. Even case studies and continued success with those partners. In parallel, there’s always going to be this focus on growing our ecosystem and making it more robust as an offering to our customers. So there are two sides of the scale, between existing partnerships marketing and new launches, that are always constantly battling with each other. And one shouldn’t outweigh the other, honestly, they’re both very, very important. So I don’t necessarily have the answer to what the ideal is. I just think it’s ultimately having the resources to be able to lean into those marketable moments at all times.

How can Partner Marketing help the business?

Juhi: We’ve all seen how the role of Partnerships has evolved from what on earth is partnerships to it is the fulcrum on which on which businesses turn. You’ve been there since the beginning of the partner marketing function. How do you see it evolving, especially in this economy, as we stare down a recession?

Rachel: Partnerships are what make accounts and customer relationships stickier. I think it’s going to be hugely important in this environment. I’ll talk about integrations most specifically because that’s where my role sits. Integrations are the keys to customer and account stickiness, because the more tools that our customers are integrated with, the more their tech stack depends on us. We are the core to really positioning ourselves as solution sellers and not single feature sellers and be done with it; there’s a lot more land and expand opportunity through partnerships. And it’s the key to account retention. Right now people are scrutinizing budgets and looking into how they’re spending and how they can cut down. Partnerships has the unique opportunity of offering indispensable solutions. 

There’s this whole movement where it’s not about making new tools, but making the tools that you use even better by combining the solutions that you have in your stack. This is the moment that partnerships can really lean into and be at the core of success. Operationalizing and putting things into practice are always going to be really difficult. And that’s where marketing can support, in sharing that, yes, you have this one singular use case down, that’s great. But there’s a maturity curve that you can achieve through partnerships, integrations, and understanding the robust functionalities of all of the systems that you have at your disposal. Being able to communicate clearly how customers can use their full suite of solutions is going to be crucial to maintaining revenue and even growing it. Not just from G2, but from every platform that customers are using.

Women in Partner Marketing

Juhi: It seems like that creativity and curiosity are themes in your career journey. Do you have any guidance for women who are interested in partner marketing and growing in their career as you have?

Rachel: Creativity and problem solving are always going to come in handy for doing things differently. I had very big shoes to fill when I came into this role, which was pretty intimidating. What has helped me be successful in this role is not necessarily following set precedents. I’ve done things differently. I’ve created different assets that are relevant, as opposed to following this playbook type of format that rolled out every time a new integration was launched or every time there was a webinar. Even though that process was a well-oiled machine. 

Things can get monotonous in the day to day and ultimately, differentiating yourself in how you add team value and helping people enjoy their jobs more because of what you’re offering them, is huge. I recently learned that I’m an Enneagram Type 2, The Helper. This means that I’m always trying to understand how I can help people do their jobs better. They’re the person who will always say yes and want to be there to provide resources or help others. But ultimately, just being open-minded to a new approach, because there’s no set way to do anything, is my answer to your original question. And not being afraid to do things differently.

Juhi: I love that because you can’t ever walk someone’s path exactly the way they did. You have to make it your own solely. Great advice. Thank you! 

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