nearbound.com Principles: Make Them Famous–Alex Glenn

nearbound.com Principles: Make Them Famous–Alex Glenn

Multiple Contributors 21 min

Our nearbound.com Principles are the foundation from which we get our inspiration. We reached out to Alex Glenn, founder of PartnerPrograms and CEO of Partnerhub, to shed some light on the idea behind the PartnerHacker Principle: Make Them Famous.


This is the 3rd article in our series exploring the PartnerHacker Principles. You can read more about the first two principles here:



Why we should "make them famous"

"If you bring them business, and you are an asset to them, if you become a valuable asset to their business, they are going to obviously refer you more business... that will start the reciprocity flywheel." – Alex Glenn


Make them famous, is about shifting the focus away from yourself and towards your partner. Instead of thinking about how you can promote yourself, start thinking about how you can highlight the importance of your partners. This gets the flywheel in motion.


Alex Glenn shares more about why it is so important to "make them famous."


Start experimenting


Dip your toe in the water, you don’t need to change the organization. You can test, and try things... Try a couple of test pieces of content out with partners and see what the difference is. – Alex Glenn


You don’t have to be a true believer in order for the principle of making them famous to work. Alex says, to start with an experiment.


Put the make them famous theory to the test.


Alex Glenn says to run an experiment and test your assumptions before changing your approach.


Full interview

Want to go deeper into the make them famous principle?


Alex Glenn and Micaela Richmond dive into the thinking behind PartnerHacker Principle: Make Them Famous.

Check out the full interview below:


Alex Glenn and Micaela Richmond discuss the meaning behind the PartnerHacker Principle: Make Them Famous.


Full transcript:

Ella Richmond 0:06

Okay, well, first off, thank you very much for doing this. I really, appreciate it. So first make them famous. You know, you’re you have a podcast on that. Whenever I saw the principle, I was like, okay, Alex Glenn 100%. I want to know why you were so convicted by that statement that you decided to title your podcast, and make them famous.


Alex Glenn 0:31

Yeah. So, headed back to the genesis of the statement, make them famous. I first heard it from Pete Caponata, former HubSpot, now CEO of data box, the way I understand it, and I honestly pinged Pete to try to get him to give me any sort of, "Is this really what happened or not?", but he didn’t get back to me yet. But if he does, we can send you that answer.

And you can decide what to do with it. But the way I understand it is in his internal team meetings for partnerships and how to get partners more active in the program, he would use the term make them famous to help his team understand that if you bring them business. You are on an asset to them a valuable asset to their business, they are going to obviously refer your business more, they’re going to build more services on top of your product, they’re going to be closer to the program and all of our numbers and all of our goals will get hit.

So instead of thinking about it, like okay, well, I’ve got to get the revenue out of my program, who in my partner ecosystem has leads for me and what can I do to get those leads you think about it, like, you know what, I’m just going to help bring all of my partners more business through co marketing events.

Putting them all over our website, product lead partnerships is a big strategy there were DataBox, if you’ve ever been to their site has templates that are built by partners, and you can actually onboard into DataBox using those templates, air table, and I think even HubSpot does this really well as also, but the long and short of the strategy is bring them closer to our funnel, make them apparent and obvious and famous to our customers. And just doing that we’ll start the reciprocity flywheel, and we will get more revenue and leads from it. That’s where it started.


Ella Richmond 3:08

Okay, so basically, the principle of reciprocity is like a massive cognitive bias. It’s, they’ve done a lot of psychology on it. And that kind of plays into that. The next question that I had was, you know, make them famous and a lot of these principles and values, they sound nice, but why tangibly? Are they something that actually work? Why is this something that people are willing to build their businesses around?


Alex Glenn 3:36

Yeah, definitely. Reciprocity, you know, is a nice thing to shoot for, you know, I scratch your back, you scratch mine. But the important thing about reciprocity is it’s an inherent human trait.

We don’t even have to talk about it, you know, it doesn’t have to be something that we try to get done. It really just if I do something for you, and you perceive me as a valuable aspect of your day, you’re going to be thankful. And if you’re thankful, you’re going to want to reciprocate. It’s just human nature.

You know, you did something nice for me, my immediate thought is, how can I do something nice for you? So the asks, have a partner program, I don’t need to be there. I don’t need to ask you for leads. If I have to ask you for leads. You know, obviously, I didn’t do anything for you that month, and you’re not thinking of me top of mind. Right?

But if I didn’t do stuff for you, if I created that, that thought process, that is reciprocity, then you’ve already brought me leads and there’s just, there’s just no conversation about it. So I think people just, yeah, they try to create a strategy around it and it doesn’t need to be a strategic aspect is just let humans do what humans are going to do. And all you have to do is just also be a human. That makes sense, and may not be the exact answer that you’re looking for.


Ella Richmond 5:08

No, that’s awesome. How do you think that? Like? What do you think it looks like for partner people to implement this in their day-to-day?


Alex Glenn 5:17

Yeah, definitely, partner people implementing make them famous as a strategy in their day-to-day terms like CO marketing, partner led, blank, like PL X is obviously now known for bringing partners close to the funnel.

So you know, your sales and marketing team, product team are all working together to get this, this system of finding and converting users or customers, whatever you call them to be optimized, all day long, it’s all they’re doing is how do we optimize this process and this and bring more people in, in different channels and aspects of the funnel, and you know what it is, in general.

But if you bring partnerships into that, I think that’s a big part of it, too, is like, you can talk about yourself all day long on your website. And your product team and your sales team in your marketing team can put up examples and use cases and you can work with customers on case studies. But I think we’re all a little sign blind to case studies at this point, you know, but if you have experts in your partner program, and you’re not showing how those experts are utilizing your product, and then showing a customer exactly how they can onboard into your product using what that expert has done with your product.

I think you’re failing in a lot of ways just right there. And there are simple ways to do this. There are highly technical ways like what the data box example where I can actually onboard into the product using a template that was built by a top tier agency for the same use case, holy crap. But that takes development. That takes a lot of time. But there’s simpler ways to do this. Directory products, having partners sourced blank show up in different places on your website.

The easiest is, of course, the blog, everybody has a blog, and everybody has now podcast. So bringing partners into all of that is the simple way to execute on make them famous.

And just make sure that, you know, you’re at least looking at everything you’re putting out and asking yourselves in meetings. Is there a partner that can be a part of this? And if so, have we reached out to them about it, and ask them if they want to be included in this. And then they the biggest aspect of that is it’s not just about scratching their back and getting referrals, bringing partners into your funnel into your content into the website into the product will increase conversions.

It’s good for SEO, if I’m talking about how great a strategy is on my blog, and I’m, you know, head of content for the product itself. That’s, you know, that’s okay, there’s keywords in there. There’s, there’s some good stuff, that’s probably SEO code to an extent. But if I pepper in, oh, here’s an expert in this topic, a service provider that’s been doing it for 10 years. And here’s how they interpret the goal of this article. And there’s a video right there. And then there’s a couple of quotes.

Yeah, I do have to shoot them a backlink and make sure that they’re their pictures in there. And I do mention them in the article. But it’s worth it for me, because that will increase the time on site. And that will increase the scroll distance. And that will lift all of the SEO KPIs that I have to focus on as a marketing lead in order to do my job well.

So it’s not just about making them famous. Yeah, that is part of the partnership strategy, but everybody else on different departments should say, well, one of my KPIs is, you know, branding our selves around the search term. Well, let’s find partners that are trying to brand themselves around those search terms and know a lot about that search term, and bring them into content. And the product team needs to think, well, I know what our users are doing right now. And I know what our product roadmap is.

But our partners or service providers are experts in the product itself, yes, but in the vertical and in the industry. They know what our users need in six months, because they wouldn’t be in business for 10 years as a top tier agency, if they weren’t thinking six months ahead of the customers.

So as a product like I own partner hub, I have to look at like day to day I’m just really deep in my day-to-day issues and day-to-day user needs. But all I have to look at is like one of these partnership experts and say, What are partnership teams looking at needing in six months, and where are they going you’re a consultant you.

You’re gonna know this, and I need to work with you to figure that out. And I can do that by saying, Yeah, I need your time. But what I’m going to do for you right now is create an expert’s directory. And I’m going to put your face right there and your profile and your backlinks and all that stuff, right in our funnel in our website, and somewhere in the app to make sure that our users are seeing you as that expert. And then in return, yes, maybe you’re going to send more users my way. That’s cool. But I’m on the product team. That’s not one of my KPIs. What I’m looking for is knowledge of what the user wants in six months. Yes, but also stick your product use cases and stick your users in general. Right retention. So that was a long-winded answer.


Ella Richmond 10:52

No, that was awesome. I think it’s really interesting how, like, it’s looking at other people and seeing where their expertise lies. And it’s making them famous, because there are a lot of people that you know, your influence, like you should use your influence.

Well, there are a lot of people out there that are really, really brilliant, that have a lot to add, that have a lot to share with the people that you already engage with. Why not give them more by like, almost pairing up these insights with the audience. So think that’s really awesome.


Alex Glenn 11:24

Agreed. 100%.


Ella Richmond 11:28

So another question that I had for you. This is an interesting question. I’m not sure if it’s controversial, or if it’s just that people don’t have the right mindset. But why do you think that some people don’t adopt the make them famous mindset? Is it? Is it, you know, controversy? Is it that some people don’t believe in it blatantly? Or is it that some people don’t recognize maybe the nonzero sum of business? Why do you think that is?


Alex Glenn 11:59

Why do you think why do I think some companies don’t understand the value of the nonzero sum mentality?


Ella Richmond 12:06

Yeah, and just don’t understand why making them famous would ever be helpful for them to adopt? Or live by?


Alex Glenn 12:13

Yeah. You know, again, it’s like, I’m so deep into partnerships, I’ve been doing it as a marketer for, you know, I’ve been doing partnerships and, and partner led go to market for so long. And think it was even like a question, I didn’t think, you know, so it’s so hard for me to put myself in those people’s shoes.

And I do hear some of the things I’m just trying to pull, like, not some actual names or anything like that. But there’s yeah, there’s examples I’ve heard where it’s like, you know, you you have planned out so diligently as a first close knit team, like as a startup, imagine, like the genesis of a tech company, it’s like, a couple people get together that are good product, people, maybe, maybe once a marketer, and once a salesperson, and they find a CTO, whatever, but then they go out and they build something, they raise some money, they have to put together a whole go to market.

And they don’t know, they haven’t gotten to the partnership side of things yet. They don’t know partnerships, most of these people, and they raise money based on this whole go to market, which means they have to staff for that go to market, which means they have to execute on that go to market, that’s a two year plan.

And they’re so in the weeds with how they’ve kind of built their business to do this in the first three to five years. And they’re just so heads down on that, that when someone from marketing says no, we should be doing it this way. And bring these people in the it’s such a fragile system that it’s really scary to think as a CEO that has all these people relying on you to execute on what you sold them essentially the vision, the go to market, etc.

It’s really hard to change that. So I think change and you know, the, the scare factor of like, well, we’re doing it and seems to be working. Why would we change that? I think that is definitely a devil’s advocate perspective. The idea that you need everybody’s buy in to how that would work.

And there’s always going to be someone that’s going to lose or at least feel they’re going to lose when you do a change you know, an organizational shift and a change in the way you do things. So not having it be top down I think is where teams struggle is like you know I mentioned Pete Caputo but he’s the CEO of data box Data Box has partnerships ingrained into everything they’re doing.

I don’t think they even have a partner manager. You yet, or to date, I think they kind of experimented with a partner manager. But they realized, or at least, you know, I don’t know if they realize, but I think what happened is if I, if I had to guess is like, they were doing partnerships in all areas of the business and everything was working, and then you throw partnerships person in there.

And now they’re just almost like, almost annoying the current partners because it’s like, no, I’m already doing that I’m already in your articles, I’m in your, in your directory, have submitted my, my templates, and I’m getting leads from it. And now what are you doing in my inbox, and you know, it’s almost like Data Box is a partner led organization, but organizations that are trying to kind of read, read, configure, and put partnerships into all the different departments that it needs to go in, will hit walls with each department lead thinking, I’m already busy and dealing with so much crap. And now you want to put this on my plate. And it doesn’t almost matter how much you believe that it would be beneficial. Just the sheer thought of doing things differently is stressful. And would get backlash.


Ella Richmond 16:14

Yeah, I liked that. I liked that. I liked that perspective a lot. What would you say to somebody who has not adopted the mindset yet, but you think should?


Alex Glenn 16:25

Ah, you know, dip your toe in the water, you don’t need to change the organization. You know, you can test, try things. So if you’re a marketing person, and you’re trying to figure out whether bring partners into marketing, you have to run some experiments, try a couple of test pieces of content out with partners and see what the difference is.

As far as goals and time on-site and inbound links from those partner-sourced pieces of content. If you’re a salesperson, obviously, the easy thing you can do is get on calls with partners and try some co selling routines and see if that’s valuable for you. And put partners in front of your prospects and see what happens if you introduce a partner to a customer that’s threatening to cancel, you know, try these things out.

Product is a little bit more difficult. I think the easy, dip your toe in the water product strategy. To make them famous, again, you’re highlighting then there’s other things you can do from a product standpoint. But if you’re highlighting a partner, to your customers, and you’re on the product team, I think you have to consider, you know, what level of visibility partners have within the product itself?

You know, and I think there are easy directory links and things that you can do to showcase experts when people are having trouble. So imagine if like, you submit a good example, I wrote an article about this for for our blog, but I was on a customer success funnel in JIRA and Atlassian, about JIRA. And it had me do the typical, like, what’s your issue, screenshots note?

And then the next thing was, Are you working with one of our solutions? Partners? Yes or no? And I said no. And then they had two more questions about my business, and then an ask if I would mind if they introduced me to a solution partner? And I said, Sure, yeah, of course, because I’m going to need it. I’m going to need help.

You know, and I don’t think JIRA is success team is going to show me all the things I need to know about growing my instance out and all that sort of stuff. So I’m figuring out as a product team, like, you have your customer success issue, workflow, well, what point can you maybe ask them if they’d like an introduction to a solution partner, that’s a product thing.

Also a customer success thing that’s kind of work hitting both so the customer success side, similar to the sales side, customer as issues, match them with a partner, ask them if they want to be matched with a partner in the funnel. And then follow up with those people that have been matched, find out how the experience went, and as you get like, the ball rolling and everything’s kind of being checked off and you say, you know, what, we ran the tests, it worked.

And let’s, let’s scale that aspect of what we’re doing up a little bit and continue moving forward. And, and growing it so that or just talk to an expert that’s been doing it and, and get them to tell you what, what the effects have been. Or just look at the examples. I mean, every top tech company, I think, has co marketing co selling and partnerships in their CS funnels. I like JIRA last year.


Ella Richmond 20:03

So I like this idea of like using the minimum viable tests to hypothesize, or like to build hypotheses. And then to test whether or not something like a make them famous mindset would help in, say, co-marketing, co selling, co-innovating, like how can you add that in?

And how can you do minimum viable tests? So if you’re, if you’re wondering whether or not this is a strategy that you should employ, or this is a mindset that you should employ, like, there’s so many ways to test it, that’s a good idea.


Alex Glenn 20:34

Yeah, dip your toe in the water, don’t change totally overnight, you can’t anyways, try it as a per-department, sort of test, and yeah, and it will work and people will enjoy it, the proof is all over the place. So it’s not an if I just say you’ll run into issues if your organization is not open to bringing third parties outside, you do have to trust the idea of like, yeah, the customer is going to be connected to somebody and it’s not internal at the organization, and its risk, but it’s just so much better for the customer. It’s like you can’t be everything to your customers, you need partners to fill those gaps, you know,


Ella Richmond 21:16

Yeah, I love that. Well, thank you so much. I really really appreciate your time. I know that we’re a little bit over, but um, again, I love everything that you’ve said has been so so immensely helpful. 

Multiple Contributors 21 min

nearbound.com Principles: Make Them Famous–Alex Glenn


We reached out to Alex Glenn, founder of PartnerPrograms and CEO of Partnerhub, to shed some light on the idea behind the PartnerHacker Principle: Make Them Famous.


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