How do you choose strategic partnerships?
How do you decide with whom to work – so you can create wins for your customers, your partners, and your business?
Since partnerships can make the difference between a business’s success or failure, here are a few guideposts for sharing brand equity with a prospective “strategic partner.”
Join a parade– Some people will reach out to you based only on what they perceive they can gain without considering what they can provide. Finding the right partner involves working with someone who has “created their own parade” in a niche that compliments yours. Make sure you and your potential partner are on comparable and compatible footing.
Determine agendas ahead of time – One of my favorite collaborations started with the other party saying, “this is what we seek to gain from our association with you. What do you want to gain from partnering with us?” Rather than trying to sell me on the upside of associating with them, they were laying their agenda on the table and wanted to know mine. Since our desired outcomes were complimentary, our relationship has been mutually profitable.
Brand equity is more valuable than fast cash – Take the time to do your due diligence on potential partners. Be willing to say no to “seemingly great opportunities” when you are rushed into a decision or feel that corners are being cut. President George Washington offered a fitting warning, “Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.”
Having shared my three caveats about partner selection, it’s important to note that my company’s success is fueled by partnerships. For example, we’ve partnered with brands like Starbucks, Mercedes-Benz, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Zappos, and the Pike Place Fish Market. Leaders in those brands have entrusted us to join “their parades,” In turn, we’ve amplified messaging around the customer experience and leadership excellence of those brands through our books, keynotes, and training materials.
I’m convinced there are no self-made men, women, or companies. Instead, we all stand on the shoulders of extraordinary people and brands that came before us. We also stand stronger when we find synergist partners.