If Disruption Is the New Normal, Strategic Business Partnerships are its Antidote

Strategic business partnerships are a strategy that has been around for a long time. Some people say that they date back more than 2000 years. They are still relevant today because they help partners expand their capabilities, take advantage of opportunities, and reduce risk.

Strategic Business Partnerships

A business partnership formed with the goal of creating more value for target clients’ new or underserved needs.

In doing so, it creates value for each partner firm. This relationships creates value for both parties involved.

The goal is to improve each company’s access to information, resources, areas of expertise, and potential customers.

In the professional services industry, partnering with other businesses can help firms close gaps in content and capability, amplifying each firm’s visibility—online and off—and expanding their expertise.

Partnerships in professional services can be seen as a way to share reputations and audiences.

Good Strategic Business Partner Firm

good partner firm will have the following characteristics:

The audience you serve should be the same as the one you currently have or the one you wish to have.

The company provides a service or product that would work well with yours, and they are interested in what you have to offer.

A good reputation is important for maintaining credibility with an audience and appearing trustworthy when someone looks you up online.

Has a mailing list that is not similar to yours, a site with a good domain authority, and many social media followers.

Find a partner who has published and spoken externally at industry events.

Content developers produce timely and consistent educational pieces across formats like blogs, videos, and infographics. They distribute this content through marketing communications channels including earned, owned, shared, and paid media.

 Is willing to let you take the spotlight and be the center of attention. Is okay with you being in the limelight and receiving all the credit. Reciprocity is having a mutual or exchangeable give-and-take relationship. A healthy reciprocity is when both parties feel they are equally yoked. They each feel they are getting as much as they are giving. Each person feels valued, seen, and heard.

If you’re looking to expand your client base, working with another company can give you access to their clients, providing you with opportunities to grow your business.

When looking for a business partner, these are the characteristics you should look for. However, to find the right partner for your business, you need to take a closer look at how partnerships fit into your business strategy.

Finding the Right Strategic Business Partner

Create efficiencies or support new business processes? The key to finding the right partner is to have clear objectives for the partnership. What do you want the partnership to help you achieve? For example, do you want it to help you reach a new audience, extend your array of services to an existing audience, or create efficiencies or support new business processes?

Whether you’re addressing an existing audience or a new one, the partnership will, by design, have an impact on the buyer’s journey. The questions you need to ask are: 

  • Where in the buyer journey can the partner make an impact?
  • What can the partner do to make the desired impact?

Pre-Client Experience

In the pre-client experience stage, partners can collaborate by promoting each other to their audiences. The partnership’s success depends on how effectively the firms’ efforts move marketing qualified leads from the top to the bottom of the funnel.

If your partner’s role is to expose you to their audience, you might consider the following activities:

To build engagement you could:

To convert prospects into clients:

  • Submit a joint proposal to a shared prospect
  • Co-deliver consultations or demos

Three, it enables partners to share the cost of reaching new markets. Partnering up with another company offers several key benefits. Primarily, it allows businesses to quickly form relationships with a new audience or expand their current reach. Additionally, it provides a way to test how well two companies work together before making any major changes, and it also allows businesses to share the costs of reaching new markets.

Client Engagements, Between Engagements, and Former Client

Two business partners have established enough trust and confidence in each other to offer a service to a jointly held client.

This partnership will be successful if we continue to work together to promote and develop the business.

It is important to always be promoting the partnership and each other’s capabilities in order to win more business from a client.

Although many professional services firms offer a variety of services, less than 40% of their clients are aware of this.

If you don’t tell your clients about the services you offer, they will probably go to one of your competitors who does. It’s important to keep your clients up to date on what you have to offer so that they don’t go elsewhere.

The former client stage is not inevitable, it is avoidable in many cases.

In order to be successful in finding a partner, you need to understand not only what role they will play, but also what you bring to the relationship.

Think about what content you can offer to your potential partners to help them close any gaps in their buyer journey map.

Probing for Prospective Partner Information

Scroll through their social media accounts. Now that you have a list of prospects, you need to research each one. Start by looking at their website, and then scroll through their social media accounts. Then ask yourself:

  • Do their services meet your clients’/audience’s needs without competing with yours?
  • Do any of your services meet their clients’ needs?
  • What new value proposition can you offer clients by joining forces?
  • Do they develop high-quality educational content? 
  • How do they promote their services? Through what channels?
  • Is their brand a good match for yours—ie, is their reputation, values, and style in sync with your firm’s?
  • Do they partner with your competitors?
  • Do they have an engaged audience on social media?
  • Do they externally publish and speak at conferences?

Developing Strategic Partnerships

1. Understand the Deliverables

Before you sign a partnership agreement, you should figure out what you need from the partnership and make sure that each side knows what they are responsible for delivering. Understand your partner’s goals for the partnership and how the partnership fits into their business strategy.

Focus on the following elements to start your partnership off on the right foot:

Maintain transparency 

It is important to be transparent with your negotiation partners and to make sure that you understand their goals. Doing so will help to establish a trusting and visible partnership.

Use the same measures of success 

Try to establish KPIs and measurements of success that both parties agree upon from the start. This will help ensure that both parties are working towards the same goal.

If you each have different goals that can’t be measured in the same way, set additional internal goals to make sure you both deliver what you’ve promised.

Be willing to reset timelines and goals

Not every plan goes as smoothly as intended. There will always be unforeseen issues and setbacks, especially when working with multiple organizations. Show that you’re willing to adjust timelines and goals as needed when problems come up.

just make sure you establish some sort of requirement so that your partner doesn’t take advantage of your generosity. Too many setbacks or a lack of productivity can turn what could have been a profitable partnership into a costly waste of time.

2. Set the Terms of the Deal 

This is the basics of your partnership. If something isn’t fitting correctly, it’s likely to fail. Set terms and consider every possible condition from the beginning.

Thoroughly lay out all investment costs, points of contact, profit sharing, branding guidelines, responsibilities, and any other requirements to ensure the success of the partnership.

3. Be Prepared to Manage Relationships

Fostering relationships is key to maintaining a successful partnership. By addressing new questions and concerns that come up over time, you can keep things running smoothly.

You’ll probably need to help make decisions together, especially if the contract does not say everything that needs to happen.

Ensure that the lines of communication are clear and concise. Determine which key individuals need to collaborate and confirm that they can rely on one another.

If necessary, set up exclusive communications channels for the individuals working between both companies to keep everyone informed.

4. Make Sure Your Partnership is Flexible 

It is important for a good partnership to explore new opportunities to survive. At the start, one method or investment may make the most sense, but a few weeks or months in, something changes.

A new product from the competition, leadership changes, or a setback provides new opportunities.

It’s important to be flexible in a long-term business partnership. Talk to your partners about ways to change and improve the collaboration. This will help make sure that both of you are getting the most out of the partnership.

5. Get Your Entire Team Involved 

Announcing a partnership between two leaders to team members and expecting them to follow is never a good idea.

Making sure everyone on the team is involved is key to achieving success, especially if they’ll be working closely with another group of people.

Getting to know the different players and defining their role will help the partnership launch go more smoothly.

Advantages of business partnerships

Reach New Customers

If you could identify, establish credibility, and showcase value over your competitors all at once, it would be easier to grow your customer base.

Being in a partnership with another brand gives you a direct connection to the other brand’s customers. The other brand’s reputation can help you gain exposure and trust with potential customers.

If you choose the right partner, you could either attract a new, complementary audience or expand the market you already serve.

Share Resources and Expertise

It is common to hire someone to help with areas of business in which you have no experience. Engaging in partnerships with other businesses can also provide the expertise you are lacking.

This method is effective and affordable for investigating new prospects without the danger of failing only because of a lack of resources or experience.

An example of a successful partnership is Disney and Pixar. Pixar was innovative in 3-D animation and storytelling, but did not have any understanding of the movie industry or distribution channels.

Disney was a well-known name in the animation industry but was having trouble producing high-quality films under new management.

Pixar partnered with Disney so that Disney would help distribute and sell their films. This way, Pixar would have the expert guidance it needed, as well as the financial backing. For Disney, this was a way to be associated with revolutionary animation without risking continued failure.

Grow Your Reputation

If you partner with another brand, you are essentially approving of everything they do. Your customers, employees, and suppliers will see this partnership as a sign that you support the other brand’s mission, products, and actions.

This is a good thing for both you and the brand you partner with because it means that both of you vouch for each other.

This can be an excellent opportunity for your business to grow awareness and build a positive reputation, not only amongst customers but also amongst other businesses, vendors, and professionals.

However, be careful about partnering with a business that has a poor public persona because it could have a negative impact on your own reputation.

Increase Revenue

If you utilize any of the aforementioned advantages, you will most likely also see an increase in your earnings.

There are a number of reasons why two companies might choose to join forces. This could be because they want to expand their customer base, save money by sharing resources, or launch a new product together.

Increased revenue is not always the primary goal when approaching strategic partnerships, however it is typically a desired outcome. By keeping this in mind, you can help ensure that your partnership provides the necessary return on investment to make the effort and use of resources worthwhile.

Focus On Growth When Approaching Business Partnerships  

Maintaining partnerships are tricky, while some are successful, others might need a push.

The key to success is trusting, collaborating, and communicating with each other. If both partners are open to new ideas and creative avenues, it will help you succeed.

Work on a small project together, like exchanging guest blog posts or hosting a joint webinar.

Analyze your experience working with this person. Were the results good? Would you want to work with them again? Was the experience so good that you would want to continue working with them?

However, if the results are not good and the collaboration is difficult, it is better to end the partnership. Not every partnership will be successful. When it is not working out, it is better for both parties to end it.

It is generally not advisable to burn bridges unless the experience was truly terrible. Sometimes partnerships don’t work out due to timing issues rather than anything else. It is possible that you or the firm may need help from the other down the road, so it is best to not burn that bridge.

About the Author Brian Richards

See Brian's Amazon Author Central profile at https://amazon.com/author/brianrichards

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