In the last twelve months, we have enjoyed a business partnership of one form or another with a motorsport team, an awards event and most recently the Hampshire FA.

It’s safe to say all of the above have brought new and exciting business to our door. So much so we have found¬†ourselves asking “why didn’t we do this before?”.¬†There are several answers actually, but for the purpose of this post, I’ll go with a lack of awareness of just what a strong business partnership can offer.

Now we have seen the light we’re happy to share our what, how and why business partnerships are a key element to business growth.

Type of business partnership

Most organisations that look to partner with other businesses offer some sort of partnership scheme. The most common are those where money is paid to become a sponsor or an exclusive partner, and the other is services/products in kind.

The former is most common when it comes to an event or a set term sponsorship. It doesn’t have to require cold hard cash as such, gifting equipment or services can secure your business as a sponsor. But not everyone can take advantage of this type of business partnership.

Services/products in kind usually involve more work but can reap more rewards. It may be that you base your partnership on a two-way agreement that stipulates that you are the preferred supplier for certain products or services for that organisation and in turn, they promote you actively throughout the term. By setting up a partnership this way you usually have regular contact with the organisation allowing your businesses to form a stronger alliance built on mutual trust rather than cash.

Play to your strengths

How many times has someone told you to stick with what you’re good at? The same applies when you’re exploring business partnerships. Look at how you can benefit a commercial partnership doing what you do best. For us, training businesses from all niches to use social media with maximum benefit adds huge value to us as a partner, it also allows us to network and shares our expertise with businesses within our target audience. Everyone’s a winner.

So what do you have to give? Consider time required and set expectations at the beginning to ensure that neither you or your new ‘partner’ are left feeling hard done by.

Who to target for a business partnership?

Before looking at the organisations to approach for a business partnership you need to think about your end game. What is your goal?

Local exposure. Look at the local business award and become and event or category sponsor. Often there is a PR element of this that will help get your business in the press as well as in front of other companies within your area.

Growth. Build a hub of complimentary businesses and enter a partnership where you cross-sell each other’s services.

Kudos. Go for big, well-known, not for profit organisations that may need your expertise or cash. Associating yourself with a big name will give you kudos, whilst giving you the warm and fuzzies for helping the greater good.

Experience. Most medium to large organisations will consider a business partnership if the agreement is fair and in line with their requirements. Once you have a goal, you can look at the businesses that will allow you achieve it through a partnership. Make sure the agreement is set at the beginning and review yearly.

Why?

There are so many reasons why business partnerships make business sense, especially if you have selected the right partner and agreement. Here are our top 5:

  1. Your audience instantly grows.
  2. It makes your business newsworthy.
  3. Gives your business that competitive edge.
  4. Increases your chance to convert new clients.
  5. You get access to people and other businesses that may not have considered your products or services before the business partnership.

The key element is targeting the right organisation for the right reason and setting out clear terms that are fair and realistic to you and the other party. Don’t be afraid to ask ‘what is in it for me’ if it isn’t clear, but make sure you have a strong response if they ask you the same.

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