A report from PwC states:
“Capital is scarce, management is under pressure and high quality talent is in short supply”
One of the biggest errors made by business owners is to try and do everything themselves. To combat this, the right employees must be hired and trained, but this is an expensive risk. The other option is to outsource or leverage strategic partnerships.
Regardless of the industry in which your business operates, having an ally on your side in the form of strategic partners can significantly benefit your company and therefore facilitate growth.
Meaningful partnerships can be the foundation for success. However, gaining new customers is only one of the reasons for forming a partnership. They can also allow you to make continuous improvements to your proposition and output and manage your resource and expertise carefully. The best results from partnerships generally occur when each partner delivers excellence in service areas that are different, but related and not adversarial in the market place.
Barriers between companies don’t exist as they used to and are now permeable. “Iconoclasm and creativity are now the keys to success” writes Mark Stevens in his book, Extreme Management. “For generations, companies built moats between themselves and their competitors. Today, the most successful companies build bridges”.
To emphasise the importance of partnerships, the PwC CEO survey highlighted that 72% of CEOs viewed partnerships as critical to their business. Within the media sector, this rose to 81%.
To flip that on its head, the survey also highlights and extract from the Harvard Business Review stating that “some 60-70% of corporate alliances fail”
So essentially if set-up properly, partnerships can be extremely powerful and successful, but if not, they can be detrimental.
The key to successful partnerships is to ensure that they are built on:
So how does this fit in with business development?
Ultimately our reason for being is as an outsourced strategic partner. Developing new business is tough. It requires time, focus, processes and a lot of resource. Primarily, partnerships should be utilised to fill gaps in internal resources. You can do new business yourself or you can recruit, but so often, those resources can result in an ineffective experience and a significant waste of money. It is hard to find the right quality of business development personnel or once on board, focus is lost on the important elements of new business (having conversations, building relationships and hence campaign equity) and that is a prime reason that clients choose to use a new business agency.
However, our involvement in partnerships goes beyond the relationships we have with our clients. The recession changed the way agency owners run their businesses and it is more common than not that our clients have a core set of employees with particular expertise, supported with a bank of freelancers or strategic partnerships through other agencies who offer additional and complementary expertise. More and more Alchemis is facilitating these relationships and being at the heart of a significant, high quality agency community allows us to put clients in touch with each other when additional support or expertise is required.
We have our own partnerships in place for the benefit of our clients and to create a holistic new business offering. A strategic partnership with CANDDi has proven successful. They provide a platform that not only shows the company who visited your website, but if combined with intelligent email marketing, will highlight who within that company has visited your site. Whilst a lot of services are available under the Alchemis roof, we also work closely with people and organisations offering a wide range of services from training and coaching on negotiation and sales to pitch writing, and more strategic growth for business owners.
In the agency world, partnerships have become fundamental. With the digital marketing revolution, it is almost impossible to offer everything under one roof and even larger integrated agencies will outsource certain elements. Any small business should use strategic partners to best serve their customers/clients and that in turn will create new business opportunities through recommendations and referrals. Ask yourself where your real skills as a business lie and look to outsource the rest.