Unleashing Partnership Power: How Ecosystems Are Redefining B2B Marketing

The B2B world is experiencing a seismic shift. With more consumers turning to their network for tried and trusted relationship recommendations, businesses need to turn their attention to the power of ecosystems and partnerships.


The latest episode of the Marketing in The Madness podcast ‘Ecosystems Unleashed: The powers of Partnership’ dives deep into how and why partnership marketing packs a powerful punch in today’s marketplace. Katie Street, Founder of Street Agency and Host of the Marketing in The Madness podcast, joined by marketing leaders David Nisbet, Agency Ecosystem Partnerships EMEA at Stripe and Josie Klafkowska, Global Partner Marketing Director at VML, explored the ecosystem approach that is unlocking success in the evolving B2B marketing landscape.


There is no denying that the marketing world is noisy, fragmented, and fast-changing. Couple this with the fact that only 5% of potential customers are ‘in market’ at any one time AND the impending death of third-party cookies, it’s no surprise that it’s getting tougher to attract new business. So, how as marketers do we overcome the increased pressure? The answer is partnerships.


“Inbound is hard, outbound is harder, that’s why you need NEARBOUND in your strategy” David Nisbet, Stripe


Inbound marketing is all about the pull. And Outbound is all about the push. Nearbound is about the surroundings. It’s about leaning into players and partners in your network, using your ecosystem to build trust and rapport; working those networks smarter, connecting with customers better, and turbo-charging sales.

The concept of Nearbound is increasingly becoming the go-to tool in the B2B marketer’s playbook in 2024. So, how can you use the power of partnerships to scale growth?


Standing out in the sea of sameness

The last year has seen a seismic shift; it is no longer about buying and attacking lists in the hope of getting in front of your prospect, it is about nurturing your network & building relationships. We’re seeing an increase in investments into networks and ecosystems, with 82% of boards investing more in partnerships, according to McKinsey. And is it any wonder, when they’re built on the glue that can hold a fragmented marketplace together – collaboration and trust.

“It’s all about relationship building. And that’s where ecosystems come in – building your network and building your audience” Josie Klafkowska, VML

Josie illustrated this perfectly in the podcast, “Why would you go to a stranger for a recommendation?” We wouldn’t. And that’s why building your network and audience is KEY, especially in a world where 75% of world trade happens indirectly. This is why we’re seeing the rise of the WHO economy and the disappearance of the traditional HOW economy. People are turning to tried and trusted relationships, for recommendations, because at the end of the day, people buy people. And business is all about making a human connection, and, increasingly, for B2B marketers, breaking away from the ‘sea of sameness’ that once engulfed the sector.


Building a better network

Around 5.4 decision-makers in a company are involved in deciding which technology to buy. Understanding who they are and what their networks look like, and then influencing those trigger points is a crucial factor in today’s market. And, with the death of third-party cookies, there’s never been a stronger need to develop robust first-party data strategies to effectively reach and engage with these targets.

It is important to start small when it comes to network building and always keep a close eye on your business objectives so your network can really add value; There’s only so much you can do in a day, and there are only so many things you can actually optimise.

And a peer-to-peer approach built on a value exchange is absolutely crucial to success. Something both Josie and David shared their collective thoughts on in the podcast, highlighting the importance of connecting and earning trust rather than broadcasting your authority, if you want to create strong relationships.

“People have their own networks, their own watering holes, their own places to absorb and understand what’s going on in the market. Those are the places that you need to show up.”


Events boost networks – and leads

With B2B marketing becoming more human and buying cycles getting longer, events are on the up. And that’s because they give marketers the chance to build their networks and knowledge in a trusted environment.

Events are often the end point of a value exchange that starts with a target customer handing over their network-building contact details to receive thought leadership content. So, they are brilliant for boosting leads quickly.

As Katie Street says, at events: “You’re building relationships with your potential prospects in the real world, in real-time, listening to them, engaging with them, learning about their problems, their challenges, any commonalities”, and that can inform future marketing strategies.

“There’s a powerful, ongoing ripple effect when we continue conversations long after attendees have left the room. It builds communities of people who continue to connect with each other”


Keep nurturing networks

After networks have been built, taken to market and nurtured, how can they be sustained over the long term? The answer is to integrate them into the business. To ensure that ecosystem-led growth is an ethos which runs throughout the entire organization. And from there? Test and learn. As the podcast highlights, the best way forward is to jump in and experiment: “And if it doesn’t work, then fail fast, iterate and learn.”


For lots more actionable insights, advice and real-world examples on the transformative power of leveraging partnerships and ecosystems to accelerate business growth, tune into the latest Marketing in The Madness Podcast now.


Watch or listen here:




Street Website


By Emma-Louise Brown
29th April 2024
4 minute read