In our first post on this topic, we looked at what co-marketing is and its benefits. We’ll now look at how to go about finding the right co-marketing partner and managing such a relationship.
Co-marketing partnerships require work in order to maximise the benefits you get out of them and to keep them running smoothly. However, just like human relationships, if you start out with common values and common goals the road to a successful partnership will be significantly easier.
Do you really need a partner?
Co-marketing agreements can, an often do, entail significant costs. These costs can take the form of tying up high level resources, communication, training, legal costs, etc. Hence you need to make sure that what you are going to get out of it will bring, in future profits, at least as much as what you are putting into it.
Planning your co-marketing partnership
A successful co-marketing partnership needs to be carefully planned. First you need to clearly define what your objectives are and exactly what type of complementary knowledge and know-how you are looking for in a co-marketing partner.
You can then identify companies that answer this first set of criteria. You will most likely need to meet multiple potential partners before you find one that has the right fit (culture, objectives, etc.) with your own organisation. Unless you are looking for a very short term partnership it’s rarely a good idea to settle on a co-marketing partner. The fit should be obvious.
You have to work at it
A good fit is not necessarily, and most often isn’t, a perfect fit. Hence you will need to keep an open mind during the partnership negotiation process as well as once the co-marketing gets underway. Ensuring that your partner gets something equally valuable in the agreement is as important as what you get out of it.
Make sure you understand your partner’s goals and expectations as well as he/she understands your own. If you can’t fulfill the entirety of your partner’s expectations be upfront about it. In the same vein, if you see additional knowledge or know-how you can bring to the deal that would be useful to your partner, make sure he/she knows about it and, if pertinent, is included in the deal.
During the negotiations you should clearly address what proprietary information you will keep confidential during the partnership and why. This is often a contention point as partners don’t always fully understand each others’ business and won’t naturally come to the conclusion that certain information will not be shared.
You will need to set up learning mechanisms in your company to encourage and facilitate the knowledge and know-how transfer if it is part of your objectives. You will also need to tag resources that will be responsible for facilitating knowledge and know-how transfer and make sure your partner identifies, in the agreement, how many and which type of resources will be allocated to answer your co-marketing needs.
Prepare an exit strategy
Even the very best of agreements sometimes don’t work out. Hence it’s essential that the exit strategy is spelled out from the onset of the co-marketing agreement. Because it will often be impossible to go back to the pre-agreement stage, the split of the value created during the co-marketing partnership must be clearly spelled out. An experienced legal consultant will be your best asset here. The timing and timeline of a potential parting of ways must also be discussed to minimise negative impacts for all involved.
It all about the attitude
At the end of the day, as in any other type of relationship, both party need to have the right attitude for things to work out. If you keep the exchanges transparent, respectful and agree to disagree when need be your co-marketing agreement should be successful.