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Hanging Your Net Shingle, Part 4: Partners

March 2002 Communication

Corporate web sites are communication tools that can influence decisions and encourage positive actions. In this fourth of a five part series discussing the content of new venture web sites, we will explore Novarra’s site, www.novarra.com, and some of the issues surrounding partnership management. (For a discussion of formal partnerships, visit Curt Sahakian partneringagreements.com site.)

Partners are a diverse group of business entities. For the purposes of this communiqué, partners will be defined as firms that can sell for you, sell with you, or sell to you. For new ventures, it is doubtful that the newly established firm will be able to approach the marketplace with the entire solution. Rather, it is more probable that the successful value offering of a new venture will be part genius invention, part marketing masterpiece, and a whole lot of putting pieces together in a new manner. Partnerships are about that last piece, putting the puzzle together for your customers so that the whole solution is provided.

Novarra advertises its partnership with BEA right on its front page. In this case, BEA is a firm that will sell with Novarra. The partnership was created to extend the capabilities of BEA’s WebLogic web app server to the wireless world and extend Novarra’s market to the install base of BEA. This marriage of technologies presents a strong win/win situation that will grow the opportunities available to each of the partner parties. As a note on partnerships, when a firm sells with another, it usually will need to provide technical, marketing, and sales support to the partnering firm to deliver the right marketing message that supports the true value offering. Lacking appropriate sales support, the partnership will fail to capture the large pie intended to be created out of the partnership.

Novarra follows up this strong technology & marketing partnership with two types of Value Added Reseller (VAR) partnerships – full service consulting and independent software vendors. The VAR channel is an example of firms that will sell for Novarra. Appropriately, Novarra provides links to their VAR partner’s web sites. The linking of sites provides a nice conduit for a prospective customer to conduct research and find a full solution to their needs, yet its stronger use is in reinforcing the selling statements of the Direct Sales Force. Customers have become wary of sales people touting a strategic partnership that are really a tactical selling decision made to close the deal. Advertising VAR partners reinforce the message of a concrete partnership agreement. As an example of using the web site to drive action, Novarra also advertises its desire to grow its VAR channel.

The third type of partnerships, firms that sell to you, is also supported by the Novarra site. By firms that sell to you, I mean the platforms and technology that is in the product offered by the new venture. Advertising this type of partnership sends the message that the new venture’s product is built upon a solid foundation and will fit within the infrastructure of prospective customers. The value of stating that the new venture’s product is built upon known technology is in the realm of brand management. Advertising the brands of technological inputs activates the memory nodes within a site visitor and creates brand links between the new venture’s product and the known technological input. If the known technological input memory node has a positive association within the mind of the site visitor, the site visitor will then link that positive association with the new venture’s product. The second value of advertising the platforms and technology within the new venture’s product is in handling sales objections. As all sales people know, some members of a buying committee will refuse a product simply on the grounds that it doesn’t fit within a technology infrastructure vision. Even if this issue is insane, the sales team has to address it. If the question of fitting within the approved technology infrastructure can be addressed on the web site, that is one step better for the new venture.

The number and diversity of strategic partnerships has grown immensely since the 1980’s. Partnerships acknowledge the limitations of a firm, the untapped opportunities, and the economic efficiency afforded in intra-firm partnerships to create and capture value. Novarra has used its web site to promote its aggressive partnership programs, highlight its market acceptance, and create positive brand links. Oh for the opportunity to do the same.

The May Report, TECH BUSINESS BRIEFS, March 11, 2002



About the author

Tim J. Smith, PhD is the Managing Principal of Wiglaf Pricing, and an Adjunct Professor at DePaul University of Marketing and Economics. His most recent book is Pricing Strategy: Setting Price Levels, Managing Price Discounts, & Establishing Price Structures.

Tim J. Smith, PhD
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