6 Tips to Enhance Your Partnerships Approach and Execution
Brands are fighting a war out there in the market place right now. The constant battle for cut through, to be taken seriously and to be seen as a caring and authentic brand.
Customers and employees are shaking things up and really putting their workplaces and favourite brands to the test. They want more opportunities to give back, donate, volunteer and support the causes they care about, and they want brands to step up and make it easy for them.
In fact, new research shows that 90% of citizens say it’s important for business to sign up to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and brands are scrambling to understand how they can step into this ‘impact’ and shared value space.
You are a vital piece of the puzzle for businesses wanting ways to meaningfully engage in impact projects, develop a social purpose and create more opportunities for staff engagement.
Many organisations however are stuck in old, unhelpful habits around how they view and execute sponsorships and partnerships. If you’re worried that your organisation might still be making some critical mistakes when it comes to corporate partnerships, you can read the four most common mistakes here.
Let’s explore 6 key elements that make up a great partnership, from approach to execution.
- Open Communication
- Like any partnership or relationship there are good times and challenging times. Corporate partnerships are no different and they require open and honest communication throughout the whole journey.
- Start as you mean to finish. Do you want this partnership to become an iconic, high value relationship with a brand that just loves what you do and gives you whatever you need to do it? Of course you do! So, start the relationship by being honest and upfront about where you are and where you see yourselves (both of you together) when everything falls into place.
- Ask don’t tell. So often we can focus only on our own objectives, our struggles and the pressure we are under. But of course, we know that we’re ALL under pressure to do more with less. Always start the process of approaching a brand by asking questions – what are their goals? Have they ever partnered with a charity before? What kind of causes do their staff and customers care about?
- Get buy-in from several areas of a business. Just as it takes a whole organisation to deliver on a corporate partnerships strategy, there will inevitably be more than one area of a business that will need to work together to really make a long term, sustainable partnership come together – think HR, Marketing, PR and so on.
- Differentiate yourself
- How do you differentiate your organisation from all the other organisations, events and social enterprises that are out there vying for airtime?
- In Australia alone there are 700,000 charities, with 50 brand new ones being created each week!
- You need to do a competitive analysis of the market you’re in and the cause that you represent. Be informed about who is also approaching the brands you’re dying to work with, and why and how you are different.
- Stories, stories, stories and impact, impact, impact. Getting people to buy-in to your organisation’s mission and story is one of the quickest ways to differentiate your organisation from others. Arm yourself with videos, stories and stats of the great work you are doing, the goals that you have, the impact you create and why you need this partner and they need you.
- Be that organisation who never sends out an unsolicited bronze, silver and gold sponsorship proposal ever again. Be the one who prefers to build relationships and show they are not after quick wins, but a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship.
- Be precise
- Spelling mistakes and incorrect brand names are avoidable! I know you are busy, but you’ll get one chance at making this approach to this brand. Make it your best approach.
- It’s frustrating for brands to receive proposals with no prior context of where they have come from or why. It comes off as both desperate and unprofessional. No-one wants to be seen that way!
- TIP! To avoid sending out proposals with competitors’ names and spelling mistakes that only end up in the bin, commit instead to first reach out via LinkedIn, email and phone and discover where the fits lies and what their goals are. I promise this will both save you time and yield better results.
- Ask more questions
- Brands I speak with tell me that asking questions and uncovering objectives are way more important than a killer proposal. So please stop trying to work out what the ideal proposal is when you can ask great questions, structure a great email and secure a meeting in half the time it would take you to build the proposal!
- If you’re struggling with what you ask, then some great questions are:
- If you could describe the characteristics of one person, what does your ideal customer look like?
- How do prefer to generate leads for your brand/product?
- When do you negotiate your marketing budget each year?
- Have you ever partnered with a non-profit/charity before?
- How do you normally engage in cause-related/charity partnerships?
- How do you measure the success of your partnerships? Talk to me about ROI/ROO and what it means for your brand.
- Make bigger connections
- With so much saturation in the charity sector (we’re talking about estimates of 10,000,000 charities world-wide with growth year on year) not only of so many charities, but so many doing similar things, it can be super tough for corporates to know which cause, organisation or event is the right one for them to partner with.
- Now with the rise of the social enterprise also overlapping into charity territory, your competition is bigger than ever.
- Corporates (and governments too) are keen to see organisations and events partner together to collaborate and innovate on how to create even bigger impact. Who out there in the market might be great to partner with? Can you create an M.O.U on a project or program and approach a corporate partner to get involved in something BIG?
- Measure, measure, measure!
- Are you measuring your growth?
- Are you measuring your impact?
- Do you measure the benefits you offer your partners?
- Have you asked and understood from the beginning, how your partners measure success? What kind of return they are expecting from this relationship?
- Brands are looking for deeper and more varied engagement – they want to immerse themselves and their staff and customers in your passion and story. How are you helping your partners do that?
- They key to creating more engagement is to create an emotional connection to your mission, your brand, your community of followers. Stories my friend. Stories are things that open peoples’ hearts, dips their hands into their pockets, galvanises people to your cause and helps your corporate partners share the story of why they support your amazingness to the rest of the world.
So there are our 6 tips for enhancing your corporate partnerships approaches and execution. If you’re looking for more support, and a structured framework to help you implement a best practice corporate partnerships, you might like to check out our Fundraising Academy.