Situation: A company has an opportunity to form a marketing partnership with another firm. The primary potential benefit to the company from this partnership is gaining access to new customers. On the other hand, partnerships may bring complications. What is your experience with marketing partnerships, both positive and negative?
Advice from the CEOs:
- Marketing partnerships can certainly work, provided that both parties see benefit to the relationship, and both are committed to make it work.
- Be sure to clearly define boundaries with the partner.
- If either company can perform a particular service, whose customers are who’s?
- Is there alignment throughout the partner’s organization regarding the partnership? Or are their conflicting priorities within different branches of that organization? Test the waters ahead of time and assess how these will potentially impact the partnership.
- There are potential pitfalls:
- What is the in-house/outsource attitude of the partner? If there are strong voices for in-house production or service provision, these will not be supportive of the partnership.
- Watch the quality of the partnership over time.
- Successful partnerships are based as much on friendly cordial relations as on business priorities. Are your business cultures and ethics compatible?
- Who is the champion for the partnership on the other side? What will happen if the champion leaves? Is there a back up champion?
- Build an exit strategy into the partnership that will allow you to leave gracefully and mitigate financial or good will consequences if the partnership sours.
Key Words: Marketing, Partnership, Customer, Access, Pros, Cons, Benefit, Commitment, Support, Boundaries, Priorities, Pitfall, Quality, Relations, Culture, Ethics, Champion, Exit