Job: Partnership specialist
The Role: While some companies sell products or services, others seek to offer experiences that include a range of products and services that can be accessed with a paid membership. For example, credit card providers like American Express, online retailers like Amazon, entertainment companies like Virgin and even universities and colleges offer their “members” additional benefits with their paid subscriptions, ranging from discounts on relevant products to access to content streaming platforms to early access to concert tickets.
“The partnership specialist is making all this happen; they're managing the operations and pricing strategy across all marketplaces by leveraging engaging content and exclusive offers,” explains Desiree Emery, a senior talent manager for Toronto-based health and wellness benefits platform League. “They're responsible for forecasting trends to ensure they're always staying on top of demand, and hitting the correct member base that they're trying to engage.”
Ms. Emery explains that partnership specialists are responsible for collecting and analyzing data related to their membership bases, as well as forecasts to help predict their future needs and interests.
“Once they comb through that, they have the tedious task of looking through thousands of providers and thousands of vendors that would accurately represent their member base,” she said. “They need to comb through all of that, and select the ones that will drive the best adoption rate and ultimately increase user adoption of the marketplace tool.”
While the role was once limited to large corporations and institutions, Ms. Emery explains that it is becoming increasingly common among small to mid-sized firms as well, particularly within the technology industry.
Salary: The average salary of a partnership specialist in Canada, which is also referred to as a strategic partnership manager, will range depending on their experience, employer and geographical location.
“We’ve done quite a bit of research to figure out what the market does look like, and it typically ranges from about $60,000 to $90,000 [per year],” Ms. Emery said.
Education: While there are no mandatory educational requirements for partnership specialists, Ms. Emery says most employers expect candidates to have a bachelor’s degree or higher in marketing, business, e-commerce or a related field. “That’s a widely held expectation in the field, given comparable roles,” she said.
Job prospects: Ms. Emery says the role is increasing in popularity as companies seek to evolve from providers of single products and services to providers of a lifestyle or experience. Furthermore, the success of large brands has proven the model’s success, and is now growing in popularity among smaller and medium-sized providers.
“I believe the demand is going to increase as we become more of a digital experience based-market,” she said. “This is something that is going to be sustainable in the future, especially in tech hubs like Toronto.”
Challenges: Partnership opportunities are so vast that they can be overwhelming, and partnership specialists are challenged to find the needle in the haystack that best aligns with their brand.
“Because there is so much opportunity to partner with so many different vendors, it could be difficult to align with what our business outcomes need to look like,” Ms. Emery said. “It’s so vast, the challenge for this specific role is reviewing the data and picking the right partnerships to accurately reflect our member base.”
Why they do it: Though the choices they make can be difficult, they ultimately serve to improve the lives of members, and sometimes in profound and meaningful ways.
“These programs touch a vast user base with the goal of positively influencing our members,” Ms. Emery said. “They’re driving adoption to services that may not have been available to people in the past, and have the opportunity to impact our entire member base.”
Misconceptions: Many assume partnership specialists are primarily employed for marketing purposes, offering an additional perk alongside more core products. Ms. Emery, however, believes that those companies that offer membership benefits see it as being a central feature of their offering, rather than an add-on.
“People believe it fits within a marketing umbrella, and not specific to what the marketplace is trying to do,” Ms. Emery said, adding that it’s viewed internally as a centrepiece of what the company offers its customers.
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