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How to successfully partner with other businesses

lisa-kemberBy Lisa Kember

Business partnerships are not just for the Microsofts and Googles of the world—businesses of all shapes and sizes should take advantage of opportunities for mutually beneficial relationships. Partnerships can range from something as simple as sharing each other’s content via social media, or as involved as a joint offering, bundled package, or integration.  The key is that each partner has something to offer the other, and does so willingly in the name of bettering both themselves and each other.

Here are some tips to get the most out of business partnerships:

Choose your business partners wisely

Finding the right business or organization to partner with is ultimately the key to success in this arena. The best business relationships stem from an overlap in audience interests and needs—think complimentary solutions or products to the same core audience, not competitors. You should also have confidence in the value of the product or service they offer, and agree with the general way they do business. Partnering implies your support of a company, and they should be a business whose beliefs ultimately align with yours. The best place to look for a partner is right “next door”— both in terms of geographically, but also your day-to-day business tasks. Who do you already work with? Are there opportunities to work with these people more than you do already? You’ll find that the perfect partner is often right in front of you.

Recognize your unique value

It’s important that when entering into a partnership that the parties involved understand both their own and their partner’s value. So what value do you bring to the table? Think of your specific expertise —that’s a value-add in and of itself. You can lend this expertise in your particular field in the form of content: things like blogs, videos, and seminars. Also consider your audience. Do you have a large email list, or an active Facebook following? These channels can be used to cross promote, and are of great value to your potential partners.

Have a clear plan

Business partnerships are a delicate thing. Each partner has their own idea of what they want to get out of the relationship and what success looks like to them. Miscommunication and misalignment between partners can turn a relationship sour. How do you prevent this from happening? Partners need to develop a clear cut plan together, delineating tasks, timing and expectations. Most importantly they need to decide together what success looks like and how to go about measuring it. When everything is out on the table, defined, and agreed upon, the road to success will be a much smoother ride.

Measure your results

Like most marketing-related tactics, reviewing analytics can provide you with the insights you need to generate more results next time. For example, if you exchange relevant blog posts with one another and promote them to your audiences using social and email, make sure you follow up with your partner to communicate the metrics on your end. Share Google analytics data regarding the page views and conversions, as well as any email open rates and click-through rates. Don’t forget numbers of social tweets, retweets, favorites, likes, and pins to determine which networks are working the best. This review process will help both of you understand how to do better in future.

Finally, understand that partnerships are built over time. Don’t think of this as a one-time thing that you’re going to immediately benefit from. You will see some immediate results, but unless you’re partnering with someone with a huge audience, you should expect your results to improve incrementally over time. With partnerships, as with customers, it’s all about relationships. Finding the right organizations to team with and work to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship could help you find great opportunities for growth in the future.

Lisa Kember is the Regional Director for Constant Contact in Eastern Canada. She can be reached at [email protected]

 

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