Some of the best things in life come when two seemingly unrelated items come together, especially in business. Call it  partnering, co-branding or co-ops. It can be a life-saver and a smart way for both businesses to get ahead and support each other in the process.

Remember those commercials for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups where a person would scream, “Hey, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter!”?

At the instant the accident happened, both people were flustered. But then the magic. They tasted the result — and bam, it was a marriage made in heaven. One of the all-time great ad campaigns.

Some of the best things in life come when two seemingly unrelated items come together. True in life and absolutely true in business. It goes by many names: partnering, co-branding or co-ops. No matter what you call it, it can be a life-saver and a smart way for both businesses to get ahead and support each other in the process.

There just so many benefits — it can save money, improve perceptions about your brand and, of course, grow your business.

If you’re thinking of diving into the co-branding waters, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Understand your market. Who is it that you are selling goods or services to? Are you a business-to-business, or a business-to-consumer company? Dig deep to focus in on your exact customer. Once you have a really good feel for this, begin exploring other local businesses that can complement your efforts to reach and serve that customer.
  2. Research potential partners thoroughly. Evaluate carefully and understand a potential partner’s vision and mission to unearth the win-wins. Identify all that both businesses will get from their return on their investments.
  3. Develop a plan. Draw up specific goals and actions and assign responsibilities with deadlines. Share expectations. Identify strengths and identify how best to apply them to the business. Put metrics in place to measure progress. Create an agreed upon exit strategy. Keep lines of communicate open and flowing constantly.
  4. Reduce risks. Sure, anytime you partner, there are risks. To reduce them, choose partners with deep synergy, who have similar values, and who best complement your efforts. Also, pick partners who are already leaders in their niche. And keep full approval and refusal rights, and protect brand logo and trademark integrity.
  5. Review results regularly. Take time to assess if the partnership is meeting – or at least moving toward – goals. Results and achievements rarely occur immediately. If your expectations aren’t getting met after a reasonable time, explore alternatives.
  6. 6. Resolve disagreements early. Yes, disagreements will happenFree Articles, but handling them early and quickly will help keep the boat afloat. Never let bad feelings fester by making it clear that either partner can approach the other anytime. You should consider scheduling regular sit downs to clear the air. Once a week is a good place to start.

Let me hear from you. What co-branding partnerships have impressed you? Are short-term partnerships a good choice for small businesses? Do you have potential co-branding partners in mind for your business? Do you have clear objectives in mind for a potential co-brand campaign?

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