What are long-tail partners?
Long-tail partners are channel partners that contribute a smaller, but still significant, portion of your overall revenue. While your top-tier (or “head”) partners will make up the majority of your sales, long-tail partners often account for a large number of small transactions that add up over time. You can estimate the percentage of these partners based on the Pareto Principle: 80% of your total partners will only drive 20% of your revenue. This 80% is your collection of long-term partners.
You can also think of it in terms of a graph, where the “head” represents a few partners with high sales volume and the “long tail” represents many partners with lower sales volume. Each individual long-tail partner may not make a huge impact, but collectively, they can represent an important portion of your revenue.
When set up well, recognizing and nurturing your long-tail partners can have significant benefits, including diversifying your revenue stream so it’s less dependent on a few major partners and reaching niche markets or customers that your top partners may not cater to. Of course, the right strategy will encourage growth and development in these partners, potentially moving them up to top performers over time (and not into an inactive status).
Engaging long-tail partners requires a tailored approach that makes the most effective use of your resources. Here’s how:
- Automation: Build automated processes that support all other efforts listed below, so your team can adequately conduct outreach in minutes versus hours.
- Segmentation: Categorize long-tail partners based on their specific expertise, niche, or target audience. Tailor your engagement strategies to align with their unique characteristics.
- Training and education: Provide specialized, on-demand training and resources that address their niche’s pain points, ensuring they feel equipped to promote your offerings effectively.
- Tailored resources: Create marketing collateral, content, and tools tailored to their niche. This demonstrates your understanding of their market and enhances their promotional efforts.
- Flexible programs: Offer flexible partnership programs that allow them to choose engagement levels that suit their current capacity and objectives.
- Feedback channels: Establish open lines of communication to gather feedback and insights on their needs, refining your offerings accordingly.
- Incentives: Design tiered incentive structures that reward partners based on their performance within their specific niche, while encouraging greater sales.
Remember, it’s not just about the size of the individual partners, but the collective contribution they make to your business that counts. Engaging long-tail partners requires understanding their unique needs, valuing their expertise, and crafting strategies that align with their specialized focus, ultimately fostering mutually beneficial partnerships.