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Strategic partnerships: 3 practical cases

by | Mar 10, 2019

Strategic partnerships are a great tool to grow your company. If you lack creativity, have a look at these 3 practical cases. 

Strategic partnerships are the creative way to grow your company by excellence. It involves creativity, negotiation skills, communication and a lot more. 

But, it’s definitely not an easy task. How do you choose your partners? What type of agreement you should get into? What expectations should you have?
Besides, there are just so many ways to do it. It’s quite overwhelming.

All very true, and that’s why we provide you with 3 practical cases that you can adapt to your company.

Case 1: Strategic partnership with your competitors

I see you rolling your eyes now. Why on earth are you supposed to start a strategic partnership with your competitor? You are fighting for the same clients, it just doesn’t make sense.

For as scary as it might seem, coopetition actually has a lot of advantages. First, you competitors know your market as well as you (we suppose). They work towards the same goal as you, which makes them the perfect ally to get to them.

Second, especially if you work on something innovative, you also need to educate the market. By joining forces with your competitors, you just make this process faster.Last, they might have complimentary resources and intelligence that you could combine to achieve higher results.

All in all, strategic partnerships with your competitors can be quite beneficial. But of course, before starting such a collaboration you need to build some trust and protect your interest.

This is an example from one of my clients. This company is a marketplace in the food industry. They have a platform where chefs can signup and offer a menu. Users can book a chef and have a gourmet dinner at home.

The company is based in Italy and wanted to open the French market. One of the challenges they faced was the difficulty to get traction.

Their business developers were trying hard to convince a small bunch of chefs, however the numbers were just too low. On the other side, the demand started growing quite fast.

The company had a very unbalanced marketplace. When I started working with them we considered a number of options in terms of lead generation. We implemented some of them, but the timeline was quite short.

During one of the brainstorming we considered a strategic partnership with a local actor. We knew from our competitor analysis that one of our major competitors was struggling generating traffic.

Their strategy was focused for a long time on generating offer and they forgot to generate also demand. That was the right opportunity for us!

We reached to them and we proposed the following. They would integrate their offer on our website, we would redirect traffic to their website. Cherry on top of the pie, they would pay everytime one of our referral would book a chef. 

The advantage for us was that our visitors would always find a vast offer. But besides, it really helped us convince other chefs to join the club.

If you want to test such a strategic partnership make sure you identify a real value for both parties. Organize formal and informal meetings with your competitors to create trust. Make sure to write everything on paper to protect your interest!

Case 2: Strategic partnership with your major clients

This type of strategic partnership is not very common, simply because companies don’t really consider it as such. When they ally with clients, they usually call it with different names.

However, if you create an agreement with a client to achieve a common goal, and goes beyond your usual relationship, then it’s fair to consider it strategic partnership.

There are many reasons why you should partner up with your clients. They know your product inside out. They know your market and they might have similar goals to yours.

Especially in the B2B space, your clients are business people just like you. If they are entrepreneurial enough and you bring value, they’ll ally with you. 

I was recently in a chat with a good friend of mine. He is the head of business development and told me about this brilliant case.

He works for a B2B car rental company focusing on medium and big size companies. Originally they were only proposing car rental with not many extra services.

This was made on purpose to eliminate any risk associated to insurances and legal issues. However, as the market evolved, the company had to adapt to new trends. It was crucial to focus on developing their product. 

Their customers wanted more. Their most loyal clients wanted their employees to maximise their time and work also while traveling.

The rental company managed to quickly adapt to this request and included extra services. Among these, they included the option of getting a personal driver.

The driver follows you everywhere you go, so you can keep working in your car without having to drive. Now, in normal conditions, such a service would have cost this company a huge amount of money.

Which they didn’t thanks to a strategic partnership with one of their major accounts, which made this service basically free for them. 

Their client offers personal driver services and they are loyal customers renting high end cars for some high profile clients. Being the cheapest option, it was easy for them to exclusively use this specific rental company.

During an informal dinner my friend and his client talked about the possibility to use his drivers as an additional service. The revenue from this service would then be shared by them. Two months later, they launched a pilot which was a success!

The main value for their client was having access to the big demand on the website. On the other hand, the rental company was able to generate extra revenue without almost zero investment.

If you want to test this strategic partnership make sure you know your customers personally. Invite them over for social activities and treat your best ones as your friends. In any case, you’ll win!

Case 3: Strategic partnership with complimentary services

You probably guessed it by now, being complimentary in some way, is what makes strategic partnerships so successful.

That’s why it’s always a good idea to ally with similar services, which are not exactly like yours. Main reason being that you won’t have to develop any new service or product yourself. But you can still enjoy the outcome of it!

In this case, my client is a software development company. We develop custom software and apps to basically any market and industry.

Our team is mainly composed of software engineers and we like to keep it this way. We position ourselves as the tech experts and we prefer to invest our resources in other tech talent.

This of course, doesn’t necessarily match with the expectations of our clients. Sometimes they need their website optimized for SEO, sometimes they want beautiful designs, and so on.

If we would only rely on our strengths, we wouldn’t be able to serve as many clients as we do. Therefore, we had to find a solution that would fit with our vision and clients requests. 

We are lucky to work in a tech hub which gave us access to many many complimentary services. We therefore launched strategic partnerships with designers, and marketers. This allowed us to expand our service range and appeal to a larger market share.

The clients are entirely managed by us, and we coordinate with our partners on what needs to be done. In this way, we offer a full service and our partners don’t need to invest on generating leads by themselves.

If you want to enter into this strategic partnership make sure to build a strong network. Focus on the main services your clients require, and make visible that you’re able to offer them.

Strategic partnerships are a great tool to grow your business. You have unlimited possibilities to achieve your goals. All you have to do is to use your creativity and rely on the right people!

If you’re impatient to boost your career and leanr more practical tips, our intensive course might just be all that you’ve looking for until now.

Author

Lucia Piseddu

Founder at The BD School

The thing I love the most in business development is its creative process. My job is to help people unleash their potential and become great at business development.

Are you ready to grow in business development?

 

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