Peter Spoleti / Vertex Markets Inc.

Guide to Business Growth Through Strategic Business Partnerships

Business partnerships are a very efficient and effective strategy for growing a business, some say, dating back hundreds of years, and why not they work. Partnerships strategies have survived all these years because their benefits are without question. They help the partners expand their capabilities, capitalize on synergies, exploit opportunities, reduce risk and benefit from an expanded marketable database

For businesses in today’s ever changing essentially digital marketing & operational business environment, partnerships can provide a very beneficial role now and for the future of the business: they help businesses stay productive and competitive in a very aggressive and crowded marketplace.  It’s understandable why so many businesses pursue this strategy.

strategic Partnerships
Strategic Business Partnerships, What are They?

In business strategic partnerships can help them close gaps in content and capability, expanding each business’s exposure online and off and expanding their expertise, and offerings, while with the potential business able to lend or borrow the branding of their new partner.

Though not all strategic business partnerships meet their goals. Success depends largely on finding the right partners, forging the right partnership, and doing the work to make them successful.

Since partnerships have the potential to be very lucrative, many businesses of all sizes pursue some form of partnership to help grow their business.

Most businesses will promote their new partnership by displaying each other’s logos on their website or on some digital media platforms. Many even will deliver a collaborated announcement to their respective databases.  Though few will collaborate on ongoing marketing and business development throughout the pre-client and client-experience stages. They assume the additional value they have created, through their new partnership, for the benefit of their clients should be acknowledged by their clients and the industry.  This way of thinking undercuts a primary benefit of partnerships enhancing audience reach, conversion, and engagement.

What’s a good strategic business partner firm?

A good strategic partner business will have the following characteristics:

  • Audience: Serves the same (or similar) audience you currently–or wish to–serve.
  • Synergies in areas of expertise: Offers a service or product that complements–rather than competes with—yours and is interested in your offering.
  • Branding & Reputation: They should increase your credibility with an audience and not raises any red flags when you’re searched for online, for the business or its team members. 
  • Visibility: Has a sizable database with minimally overlaps with yours, a site whose domain authority is just as good if not better than your site’s, and has a similar size social media footprint as you do. Try to find a partner that shares your social media and industry exposure as you believe in. 
  • Content Development and Distribution: They frequently and consistently produce insightful, educational content in different formats—blog, video, infographics, etc.—that they disseminate through integrated marketing platforms and campaigns.  
  • Commitment to reciprocity: Is comfortable sharing the stage (figuratively or literally) with you.
  • Clients: They will give you access to their database and clients you don’t have access to.  

These are an outline of the characteristics to look for in developing a strategic partnership. Though finding a good fit as a good strategic business partner requires a closer look at how partnerships fit into your business strategy. 

Where to find the right strategic business partners

As soon as you have an outline and goals of how you and strategic business partners can collaborate, it’s time to implement a plan and start looking for prospective partners.  Some good places to start are:

  • Start with your own professional network
  • Experts or thought leaders in your target industries
  • Industry-specific professional networking platform groups
  • Industry conference’s Sponsors and/or speakers 
  • Targeted Industry association members
  • Business journal lists
  • Targeted Industry publications
  • Professional networking platforms
  • Industry-specific digital media contributors

How to probe for prospective partner information

Once you have a list of potential partners, it’s time to do the research on each one. Start with their website. Next, sign up for their newsletters, attend their webinars, and follow them on social media. Then ask yourself:

  • Do their services meet your client’s/audience 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?

It’s crucial to know whether prospective partners have the digital marketing chops, service capabilities, or both to help you reach your business goals. 

As soon as you narrow down your list, you can start reaching out.

Partner meeting agenda

Once you contact and agree to talk with your prospective strategic partner, plan an agenda for your conversation. These are some ideas of items to include:

  • Ways your firm could help theirs. Remember, this initial conversation has to be focused on what you can do for them and or how the partnership can be mutually beneficial. Make sure to include several specific ideas on how your products/services will benefit their clients.
  • Ask about their target audience (company sizes, demographics, job titles, etc.)
  • Ask how they market to their prospects, and what they think their audience
    needs most.
  • Ask how they’ve conducted joint promotions or joined-up services with partners currently or in the past and how it may have changed over time.
  • Ask how they usually measure success and what goals they have for a strategic partnership.

No matter how thoroughly you vet a potential partner and negotiate your agreement with them, you won’t know if you’re compatible until you start collaborating. To ensure success, clarify the roles, goals, and measures of success for both sides. 

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