By Nick Norman
They call themselves the odd-couples in business. Some people call them mashups. At the end of the day, they’re strategic partnerships. And with the right ‘match’, you can do anything or go anywhere. Now, if you‘re not paired or booed up with the right business partner, there’s no need to worry. When you’re done here, you’ll want to be.
Let’s define strategic partnerships
Business writer and editor at SmallBusiness.co.uk, Ben Lobel defines strategic partnerships quite simply: “any relationship with another business or individual that can help your business.” If you think holding hands, eating cotton candy and woofing down funnel cake is a strategic partnership, you’ve missed the mark. However, if you stick-around, you might land a hot date or a really cool car. Let’s get back on track.
These days, the business landscape is quite competitive, and to survive in it, you’ll most certainly need a strategic partner. Though you’d do good to at least consider a forward-thinking partner. That would be a business partner who’s capable of thinking outside the box. These are the partnerships that make the biggest splash. Can you think of any?
Here’s a dynamic partnership — you’re bound to love it!
What do you get when you mashup a souped-up Ford Mustang and a dating app? Well, not just any ole dating app… more like Tinder. Give up? According to Ford Motor Company, “you get a blind date like no other” and a really hot car!
Not too long ago, Ford and Tinder partnered up to give the world “When Mustang Met Tinder.” According to an article published by Campaign Live US, “[Ten] Tinder app users were paired up in blind dates that saw them hit the road in London, winding up at a retro drive-in movie. On the way, they were quizzed by comedian Jarred Christmas on a range of ice-breaking topics.” And the world loved it!
According Derek Callow, International Vice President at Tinder, “The Mustang forever changed the way that people think about American sports cars. Tinder has changed the way that people meet. It made sense for us to work together and spark some new connections.”
Hmmmm… a cool car brand and a love-app mashup does make sense. Even so, a power-couple like Ford and Tinder don’t just find each other by chance. Concerning their partnership, there were people behind the scenes doing homework and answering the important questions — like, does this partnership make sense?
Asking the right questions and doing partner research is important. Jumping into a strategic partnership after the first handshake may not be good for your long-term success. It’s best to take it nice and slow and find out if the partnership you’re after can really work. If it can’t, don’t do it. It’ll be harder to get out of it than it was to get in it. More on that in moment. In the meantime….
Ford and Tinder are smart. In fact, for many people, looking dapper and having four wheels under their feet are two first-date must-haves. Why? Well, cruising down the highway beats walking down it. Thanks to Ford, you don’t have to walk. Now, all you need is a date… Tinder has that end covered. After a few swipes to the left and a few swipes to the right, you should be ready to ride. Oh, you’ll need some cash and some credit for the car.
Here’s the thing, if swiping to the right compels you to drop $70k to $100k on a 2019 2MUSTANG SHELBY® GT500 for some Tinder, Love & Care… have at it. Everybody wins that way. That’s what a win-win partnership is meant to do: nudge you to swipe, click, and buy.
Just a bit of a reminder: when you’re driving your new car off the lot, don’t forget to bring along your Jimmy Hendrix / Ford mashup playlist!
What’s the secret to forming a profitable partnership?
Who would’ve expected a car brand to mashup with a dating app? Well, they did and the partnership got motors hot for 1.5 million people on Tinder. Vroom! Vroom! Clearly Ford and Tinder were meant to be.
Another point to note is not every partnership is formed through big companies and trending brands. And not every partnership has to be formed with obvious partners. As previously mentioned, the best partnerships are outside the box. These are the more innovative or creative partnerships.
In “The Secret to Innovative Partnerships” Tom Dawkin’s writes, “I’ve always been suspicious of the cliché that “opposites attract,” but over 20 years of leading social impact initiatives, I have found that when it comes to partnerships, this isn’t too far from the truth. It generally turns out that the most valuable partnerships are not with organizations you most align with, but with those who are usefully different from you. It is when different capabilities, insights and communities come together that something new and innovative, which neither partner could have done alone, can be achieved.” Would you agree?
Check out these strategic partnerships
There are many examples of innovative partnerships around us. And there are plenty of not so innovative partnerships. Innovation isn’t always about tech either. Sometimes it’s about being fresh and unique or doing what’s best for your bottom-line.
Take the hospitality industry for instance — particularly hoteliers. Hotel franchises regularly seek out forward-thinking partners to keep their guests happy and to successfully compete in a constant changing travel & lodging economy. In order to compete, hotel enterprises must be adept at forming partnerships with brands that aren’t hotels. Here’s why that’s so important.
A hotel partnership with another hotel franchise simply may not be the best partnership―they’re competitors. The partnership could still work but it doesn’t leave much wiggle room. That’d be like riding a crammed Uber on your first date. Sure, you can get to the movie or dinner, however, if you’re too squished… well, let’s just hope everybody’s fresh and clean. Get my drift?
Continuing on with the hotel partner example — a hotel franchise could team-up with a restaurant franchise or an independent restaurant brand. By having an on-site restaurant at the hotel, the hotel can provide it’s lodging guests with easy access to food and entertainment. A mashup similar to that is The Terrace Room at the Lake Merritt Hotel in Oakland, California―a fabulous hotel/restaurant mashup. To give you an idea of what they’re doing partnership wise, here’s a quote from their website…
You have just found Oakland’s best kept secret. The Terrace Room is known to many as a little gem, tucked inside The Lake Merritt Hotel with panoramic views of the mesmerizing Lake Merritt. The beautiful, Art Deco building was built in 1927. Then it was a trendy hot spot, featuring Big Bands and dancing, including Count Basie. Today we welcome you to come visit this historic room while enjoying fresh, local and seasonal items.
Such a unique partnership saves the restaurant from having to spend capital on real-estate while gaining constant traffic from hungry guests lodging in the hotel. In turn, the hotel benefits from lodgers who prefer the convenience of having room service and a sit-down-to-eat option onsite. That means more rooms booked for the hotel and that’s a win-win for both sides! Are you hungry yet?
Whether you’re a small business or a solopreneur just getting your feet wet, there’s a perfect partnership somewhere out there for you―no matter your age. If there’s a business or organization you’d like to partner with… just ask. As long as your personal brand is on-point and your presentation is crisp, getting people to sit at your table to talk won’t be too hard.
If forming business partnerships isn’t your thing, find some one who’s got a knack for it and get their help. Without the proper presentation, you run the risk of appearing to be unprofessional and you could lose out on important handshakes.
You’ll need a brand or a product (nothing too elaborate)
Sure, when you hear news about mashups like the Google and Walmart mashup, it’s easy to think innovative partnerships are out of your league. Well, that’s simply not true. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield would agree. Then again, what do they know. They’re only the founders of one of the world’s most recognized ice-cream brands―Ben & Jerry’s ice cream company. The seed of their partnership sprung back in their seventh grade gym class. They’d go on to turn a beat-up gas station into their first ice cream shack. They’re both rich now.
What’s it take to pull in a strategic partner?
Sometimes all it takes to form a winning connection is finding the right people to connect with―young, old, rich or poor. In our age of social media, you should be good to go. And those connections can start in your pocket―on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter. It’s called your personal brand.
Your personal brand is how you promote yourself and the value you bring to the table. It’s what potential partners will use to gauge whether or not the both of you will mesh. Although you may not have millions of followers, which you don’t need, you can strategically position yourself to get the attention of entrepreneurs, CEOs, and stakeholders who may want to partner with you. This could be as easy as printing business cards, building a website, refreshing your social media pages or coming up with a product, a plan and a pitch.
Now, here’s something else to consider. While it’s important for you to bring value to the table, the potential partners you’re looking at should bring it too. Simply put, it’s not all about what you bring to the table… it’s what they bring too. And that’s called added value.