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A Guide to Creating Strategic Partnerships

The Best Business Relationships are Symbiotic

Northsail is a big believer in building strong, long-lasting relationships with all the businesses that we work alongside.

We've worked hard to establish trust in our clients through our commitment to always finish projects on-time, on-spec, and on-budget. We'll even turn down projects that we don't think we can meet/exceed customer expectations on.

However, if you're just starting to grow your business, and you're looking to create broad-reaching brand awareness for your company, it might be time to think about putting some strategic partnerships into place.

We've got some tips to get you started, but before we get to that, let's talk a bit about what strategic partnerships are, the types of strategic partnerships, and the benefits of building these valuable relationships into your marketing plan.

What are Strategic Partnerships?

Regardless of the type of strategic partnerships that you're looking to establish, they can be defined as a mutually beneficial business relationship that can help your business continue to grow, but at a reduced cost to doing it alone.

Typically, this involves sharing resources of some kind. The goal is always to create value for both businesses through sharing information, services, or other valuable resources that can't be accessed alone.

This can mean a variety of different things, depending on the industry and companies that we're talking about, but at its core, this tactic is the epitome of the 'you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours' mentality in business

The Types of Strategic Partnerships

There are a number of different types of strategic partnerships that you could arrange with another business, including (but not limited to):

As you can see, there are quite a lot of different types of partnerships that you could be considering for your business.

There's no right answer for which type of strategic partnership will work best for you, as long as you and the business you're connecting with can achieve mutually beneficial goals.

The Benefits of Creating Symbiotic Business Relationships

This is hard to quantify for this topic, because the specific type of benefits that you could achieve depends on the type of partnership that you've created.

Strategic partners handling financial elements might give you back time and resources that would have been wasted managing these things yourself.

Potential partners in integration technology could help improve your online customer experience, which could net you more organic traffic and conversions.

Successful partnerships in marketing (i.e., backlinking campaigns, etc.), can help expand your customer base as well as help create more engaging personal relationships with your clientele.

The list goes on and on. The important thing to think about is what type of business partnership you need to start with, and then building a plan-of-action around that type of partnership, so you can find the most effective potential partners.

Tips for Starting Your First Strategic Partnerships:

1.) Hire a Strategic Partnership Manager

If you're planning on having long-term partnerships, then it's a good idea to hire a strategic partnership manager who can oversee the process of collaboration and help you create the most effective strategic alliance possible.

Depending on the type of partner you're looking to work with, the process may be long and time-consuming to develop on your own.

Unless you and your existing team are prepared to provide those resources yourself, you'll want someone on your team that can ensure these relationships are managed efficiently and business goals are continually met.

BONUS TIP: Strategic partnership managers can perform partnership audits from time to time. Partnership audits will help ensure that both you and your business associates continue repeating the necessary benefits to make your partnership worthwhile.

2.) Create a Clear Strategic Partnership Framework

Without a clear strategic partnership framework, many of your strategic relationships are doomed to be ineffective and potentially even fall apart.

The best strategic alliances start with a strategic partnership agreement that lays out the entire framework for the relationship moving forward. It's one of the key components you'll need to make sure things start off on the right foot.

Supply chain partnerships may have an expectation for what finished products need to look like or preferred types of materials that need to go into the manufacturing process to ensure quality. Without it, the joint product partnership falls apart.

Access to technology is essential for technology partnership types. Yet without a strategic partnership model that's clear and concise, how will you know the tech company you're choosing has the right privacy and security protections to keep your essential data safe? You won't.

These are just a few examples, but all of your expectations need to be laid out in the strategic partnership model/framework. This way, both sides of beneficial partnerships know immediately what expectations are going to be on both sides of the relationship.

3.) Evaluate the Existing & Previous Partnerships for Potential Options

Take some time looking at more than just the company description for non-competing businesses. Apart from needing the same target market, you need the strategic alliance to be effective.

And what's one way you can judge whether it will become an advantageous relationship or not? Looking at their previous partnerships.

If you're reaching out to a larger, established company, there's a good chance that this won't be their first rodeo. Dig through their website a bit, and you'll likely find a list with their existing partners (at least the ones they're advertising).

Do these seem to have a strong beneficial relationship? Do they list potential agreements with partners that they'd done in the past? These are important things to note, before taking the time to reach out and approach them about partnering with you.

4.) Ensure There Are Methods for Effective Collaboration Before You Reach Out

Spend some time looking through the potential partners' content marketing before you start trying to get in contact with anyone.

It's great if there are aspects of collaboration that you can see possible with them, but without a clear business plan for how you're going to collaborate, certain types of partnerships may not function well.

Are you going to suggest they guest post meaningful content, or would you like to work with them on a type of plan for social media marketing?

It's one thing to find good potential partners, but effective collaboration requires a clear, actionable business plan that both you and your partner can easily execute.

Otherwise, they may feel like you're wasting their time, and you could miss out on some great potential business alliances.

5.) Think About Whether You Want to Approach B2B Companies or & B2C Companies

This is one point that some businesses don't think about before jumping into new partnerships with other businesses.

However, your industry (and the one of your potential new allies) should have a similar type of plan that you're both trying to follow to meet your end goals.

So, your alliance goals need to fall in line. If you're strictly a SaaS company, you may want to consider partnering with other B2B companies, since you'll be servicing the same side of the spectrum.

Conversely, if you're an ecommerce business with an online store, you may want to partner with other B2C companies that will have experience and credibility in the consumer realm.

There are no real right or wrong answers when it comes to affiliate marketing, but a successful business strategy means that you should be at least playing in the same ballpark.

If you're going to partner with someone that's on the other side of the spectrum, be sure that there are clear benefits plans for both of you; otherwise, you could be setting yourself up for a headache and wasted time/resources.

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