Partnerships can drive amazing business growth when done correctly.
They are always a bit of a leap of faith, but with the right forethought and planning, it can be an informed leap of faith. Here's how to think through potential business partnerships.
First, understand which type of partnership it is
There are three main types of business partnerships:
- Marquee. Marquee partnerships tend to be multiyear engagements in which both partners build something from the ground up. You're in it for the long haul -- not just for a couple months.
- Collaborations. Two or more separate entities, brands, or influencers may develop a co-branded product. For example, Uber and Spotify partnered to give users the ability to develop "soundtracks for their rides." The partnerships can be longer term and up to a year in length and may have multiple layers.
- Campaign-led. Campaign-led partnerships are shorter-term projects, specific to a moment in time. For example, around Valentine's Day, ThirdLove might partner with a women's sexual wellness brand. Unlike the marquee partnership, we're not helping them build a company from the ground up; we're linking arms and raising our voices together for a finite period.
It's not always going to be marquee partnerships. Before you launch into one, first ask yourself: Which type of relationship will work best?
Then, keep these things in mind when entering into a partnership:
- Make sure now is the right time and the partnership is relevant. Now could be the wrong time for a number of reasons. Maybe you don't have enough cash to invest in a marquee deal. Maybe a campaign-led partnership would work better at a different time of year. Be patient -- there's nothing wrong with delaying a partnership. Timing is everything.
- Stay on-brand and choose partners with clear alignment. Can you articulate their vision and values? If so, do they align with yours? There are many reasons why partnerships may seem seductive -- but seductiveness isn't always an indicator of quality. As you consider potential partnerships, ask: Are we committed to solving the same problems? Do our brand identities fit?
- Establish clear goals and open lines of communication. This starts from day one: Have real conversations, driven by meaningful questions. Create goals so that all partners feel connected and driven to success. No matter how strong the partnership is, questions and conflicts will arise. There's going to be something one partner needs that the other doesn't. There will be initiatives that don't quite pan out. When that happens, it's crucial that you're comfortable picking up the phone and hashing it out.
Ultimately, all partnerships are about a shared goal. Both of you want to amplify your brands, of course, but brand amplification should be the byproduct of a mutual project's success. If you stand up for your values, stand alongside brands that share your values, and know-how to think it all through, you've got the recipe for strong business partnerships.