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Lisa Box is the Vice President of Strategic Alliance at WP Engine which is a digital experience platform for WordPress. Lisa and her team look at the opportunities that are within that ecosystem make sure their partners (including developers, marketers, etc.) get all that they need from WP Engine.
Lisa heads up a team that is dedicated to strategic alliances. Their primary focus is on agency groups and strategic technology providers. When Lisa first started in her new role, she saw that there was a common thread of users (from freelancers all the way to large conglomerates) of common development needs: more education, enablement, and tools.
These were all very similar needs even though the organizations needing them were quite different. So Lisa started to ask the question: how do we look at these customers as our true partners? There are now 1,800 agencies in their new agency partner program that WP Engine started, and it includes key components to enable these partners to grow their business with WordPress as a core component of their stack.
In this edition of Alliance Aces, we spoke with Lisa about their various partner levels, ensuring their partner program provided tangible value, and an inside look at how this new program became so successful.
Different Levels of Partners
Within their agency partner program, WP Engine has three partner levels: Member, Advanced, and Strategic. The higher the level of a partner, the more access they have to WP Engine’s continuing education, newest information, Alpha releases for new solutions, and more.
Technology partners along with agency partners come into play here. WP Engine and WordPress have constantly evolving technology, so these technology partnerships are closely related to how they work with agencies as well. WP Engine has found it works well for technology partners and agencies to collaborate together.
Lisa and her team saw the need for many SMBs to know what else they could be doing in WordPress that other agencies were already practicing. WP Engine fills that need.
Their Partner Portal includes tons of exclusive content, but it’s also complete with co-branded landing pages for partners as well as a feature in WP Engine’s partner directory. As you go up in level of membership, you get more resources and more exposure.
WP Engine knew that there so many agencies that were not getting the spotlight they deserved, but now there is a platform for telling these joint stories of success. Both WP Engine and their partners get the benefits of telling joint success stories.
Thought Leadership That Has Turned Into Something Very Tangible
WP Engine has created tangible value for their partners on several fronts and they have launched themselves into a new level of thought leadership. Agency partners can now educate themselves and share their opinions. Their voice is heard by the peers far more than it ever was before because WP Engine actively gives their partners a megaphone for their brand.
WP Engine has also done sponsorships as they did with the Webby Awards. They even partnered to create Webby Talks to educate peers on what digital trends they can expect to see in the marketplace and how to build great digital experiences.
Lisa and her team spend most of their time trying to learn what their partner's needs are. They’re going all around the world going to different agencies. They’ve added 2,000 in one year alone.
They have great traction because it truly is a whole company initiative. Lisa is adamant about the fact that it can’t just be a program, it has to be a mindset.
Why Did This Program Become So Successful?
When many people think WordPress, they think blogs. But the team at WP Engine is learning that’s not the whole picture of how people use WordPress. In fact, it’s often used for much larger tech projects.
Awareness of the potential of WordPress is the number one thing they are trying to generate, they are not talking about their partner program out of the gate. The WP Engine brand and marketing team helped here; then the partner team honed in on specific messaging for the agency partners.
Helping people understand that WordPress flexibility is of paramount importance to Lisa’s team. That and really listening to partners.
What can we do differently? How can we improve? The folks at WP Engine want to lead with education because so far, this has driven success.