Marketing partnerships provide an excellent way to build your brand and introduce your product to new customers. Getting the project off the ground requires significant collaboration – a lot of meetings and a lot of negotiation. To get the most out of the alliance, you need a well-ordered plan and a structured communication process, leading to closer relationships and better outcomes.
You probably don’t need to be sold on the value of close communication to drive your business forward. Internally, of course, the need for cooperation is obvious. Your company thrives when you get everyone on your team working together.
The same skills you use for building this internal teamwork can help you leverage external relationships as well. By coordinating with other companies, you open up new opportunities and grant yourself access to new competencies. These alliances can jump-start growth and accelerate your development.
However, marketing partnerships have potential drawbacks as well. Managed poorly, the relationships can quickly descend into costly wastes of time. To avoid this, you need to hone your negotiation and meeting skills, getting the most out of every aspect of the project.
Going into a partnership, figure out exactly what you want to accomplish. This process should happen internally, well before you even start seeking out a partner.
These objectives will define subsequent steps of the process. Getting the right goals in place will inform what kind of situation you will pursue, and determine what constitutes an ideal partner.
The more specific your goals, the easier it will be to craft an effective policy. Pursuing a vague program – say, something like “extending our brand” – will likely prove too poorly defined to mean anything in practice. An unfocused objective will lead to an unfocused partnership.
Prevent this by doing your homework. Again, this should take place before you start looking for a company to partner with. Dig into the information you have, analyzing the data to help narrow your goals and create a workable action plan.
Now it’s time to find the right partner. You have your objective spelled out and you’ve utilized data to inform your strategy. These decisions will help you narrow the possible field of strategic teammates.
Obviously, this represents the key decision of the process. Finding a partner that fits into your longer-term goals and that can implement your preferred strategy will determine whether the marketing tie-up has the intended impact. As such, take your time with the effort. Track down the perfect company to form a relationship with.
Set the parameters of your partnership carefully. Going into a joint project, everyone has high hopes and an inflated feeling of team unity. If things work out for both parties, the relationship will continue along these lines. However, the good feelings might not survive the first few setbacks.
An unclear or vague contract will increase the likelihood of future disputes. It’s better to iron out the details in the beginning, when everyone is in the mood to make things work. Down the road, spirits might not be so high.
In outlining the broad goals of a marketing partnership, you need to keep the other company’s goals in mind.
Early in your own process, you laid out your objectives and crafted a workable action plan. You should have chosen a partner that fit into that initial vision. However, the other company will have its own goals to target. Ignoring these will only lead to tension along the way. The partnership works best – that is, it becomes the basis of a long-term strategic alliance – when everyone reaches their goals.
It’s time to create an action plan for your joint project, in concert with your newly-minted partner. To do this effectively, you need to set appropriate benchmarks. This way, you can test how well the initiative is moving toward your overall objectives.
Ideally, these sub-goals would be quantitative and easily measurable. By setting a clear benchmarks, there won’t be any dispute or confusion about whether the program is proceeding according to expectations.
Working together requires ongoing communication. To get the most out of your partnership, establish a clear and sustainable process for communicating.
You’ll want to share data and results with your partner, as well as receive any pertinent information that they collect. You’ll also want to create an open dialog, so that any issues that arise can be resolved quickly. Meanwhile, setting up a constant back-and-forth allows you to respond to market changes and steer the ongoing evolution of the partnership.
Despite everyone’s best efforts, some conflicts are likely to arise. Even in the best relationships, disputes develop and interests diverge, even if only in small ways.
Given the likelihood of some eventual disagreement, you should map out clear dispute-resolution procedures early in the relationship. Set these up before you run into any conflict. That way, if something happens, a process already exists to defuse the situation.
It can also help to turn to an outside moderator. Engaging a third-party can help speed resolution and prevent minor disputes from getting out of hand. By using issue resolution facilitation, you allow a professional to help navigate the treacherous waters of a dispute.
Hopefully, you’ve entered into a long and fruitful partnership. However, any long-term alliance will require a certain level of improvisation.
Despite all the planning you did in the beginning – all the data you analyzed and all the benchmarks you determined – the market will likely change on you eventually. You and your partner have to be ready to adapt. Stay open to this change. Don’t get locked into a set policy. Instead, constantly review the market landscape and the incoming data to determine how to shape the next stage of your partnership.
Most relationships eventually run their course. That may seem like a sad fact, but it shouldn’t keep you from considering a marketing partnership. After all, you shouldn’t consider a project a failure just because it doesn’t last forever.
In other words, you aren’t entering a marriage. You can likely feel loyalty to your partner, especially if the marketing relationship works out to everyone’s benefit. However, your long-term objectives will likely eventually diverge from those of your partner. When that happens, don’t be afraid to move on.