How partnerships can help your business
We recently ran a workshop for charities, organisations and businesses at the Suffolk Employer Supported Volunteering Conference about finding the right partnership for your brand.
Whilst this concentrated on partnerships between charities, patrons and businesses, the principles can be applied to any type of partnership a business enters.
The delegates were so receptive of how we apply basic marketing principles when it comes to joining forces with other brands. So it felt natural to follow up the workshop with a piece in the Suffolk Free Press to spread more awareness around these principles.
Using Basic Marketing Principles
Whether you’re looking for, or being asked, to partner with another brand, there are some key questions you need to answer before you agree to working with them.
- What do you want to do?
- Why do you want to do it?
- Who will you target?
- How will you do it?
- What will you get out of it?
By answering these questions, you receive invaluable insight into whether the partnership would be relevant and worthwhile for your brand to engage in. Using these principles, you can establish a stronger fit between your organisations and the values you both strive for. In our experience, many relationships, particularly between businesses and charities, can feel disjointed and one-sided. Like delivering a successful product to the market, in order to achieve this there needs to be a harmonious connection with your partner brand. This will ensure what you’re offering fits with their needs and wants.
Find Shared Values
Once you’ve established the objectives and purpose of your intended partnership, you need to look at their values and ethics as a business. In particular, how they operate and communicate, to evaluate whether your brands are aligned in any way.
In our workshop, we used the partnership between B&Q and Shelter as an example of two brands with shared values forming a partnership. Whilst B&Q’s vision is to make home improvements accessible to all, Shelter’s is to make sure no one has to fight bad housing or homelessness on their own.
We identified four shared values between the two brands:
- Equipping people with knowledge and skills to help themselves
- Improving living conditions
- Having a safe home.
So, to identify whether your brand has shared values with a potential partner brand, if you haven’t done so already, you’ll also need to look within your organisation. To review its vision and mission, business objectives, values and so on. This will build a picture of the type of brand you will be looking for as a partner.
Build a Common Language
One of the greatest challenges when looking at your own organisation, let alone a partnership, is defining a common language both internally and with your audience. What one person sees as bold and robust, the other may see as brash and destructive. When working with our clients, we use an exercise that is aimed at developing techniques to share a common language and establish what positive and negative traits your organisation may possess. This activity establishes a solid foundation to identify your own brand’s identity, which is fundamental for when you’re searching and assessing whether another brand is the right fit.
Identify the Vision of the Partnership
Once you’ve found a suitable, aligned brand to partner with, you need to develop a clear vision with them for your partnership.
As you can see above, it was very clear that the partnership between B&Q and Shelter is a great fit. So, the next step for the two brands was to agree the scope and vision of their partnership. One aspect of this was for B&Q to fund a team of DIY specialists. The specialists teach people basic DIY skills and carry out essential jobs for people at risk of losing their home, and those settling into a new home following a period of homelessness.
This is a great example of how both brands have found a common language, aligned their shared values and agreed a partnership that benefits both parties. Regardless of the type of partnership, whether it’s between an individual, or another business or charity, each brand is unique in its own right, and will bring different skills, knowledge and opportunities to the table.
So, remember, every partnership is reciprocal. When choosing the right partnership for your brand, make choices that benefit both parties. What each brand is putting in and getting out should be equal to its partner; a strong partnership should always have a deep-seated sense of reciprocity.
Bruce Burgoyne is the Creative Director at Mackman, a Sudbury based full-service branding and marketing agency.
Next month, we will be looking at the importance of customer experience with Mackman’s Managing Director, Paul Mackman.
If you would like one of the specialists at Mackman to provide a comment or write an opinion piece for your publication, give us a call on 01787 388038, or email firstname.lastname@example.org