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Making a quantum leap – The art of securing major partnerships

When you’re first starting out, looking for corporate partners may be quite low down on your priority list. However, when you think further about your firm’s growth strategy, the idea of partnering with a well-established brand seems like a very sensible way to de-risk the business.
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When we founded Azoomee in late 2014, partnerships were actually very high on our agenda – we knew we wouldn’t succeed without them and within months, due to our shared vision of keeping children safe online, we’d managed to secure a strategic partnership with the NSPCC. This partnership provided the cornerstone to launching the business, recruiting the team, raising money and proving that we were serious. We have been working with the NSPCC ever since, gaining insight into marketing, as well as introductions and guidance.

The success of this partnership really emphasised how much of a difference a major deal can make to a business overnight. But how do you go about starting those all-important conversations?

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Plan, plan, then plan some more

Before diving straight into sending out your pitch deck far and wide, think carefully about what it is you want to get out of a potential partnership. Do you want a pure sponsor? A barter relationship? A revenue-sharing deal? There are so many different types of corporate partnerships out there, large and small, so you need to pin down exactly what you hope to achieve to make sure you approach those that fit your needs.

Match made in heaven?

Never pick a company just because it’s a recognisable brand – think instead about what you can give that the firm doesn’t already have. Do your research and look into the company’s key values, for example where it’s spending its marketing and CSR budgets, to see if that aligns with what you’re proposing. It might seem tedious, but it will save you an enormous amount of time in the long run.

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It’s all in the delivery

The biggest companies receive hundreds of partnership offers, so make sure you know who the decision-makers are and ensure they’re the ones answering your emails and calls. Tailor your pitch, be focused and concise, and most importantly, highlight the value you can add to their business straight away.

Get a third party opinion

Going into a pitch, I’ve always felt most confident when I’ve had evidence to show my company’s success. I go to meetings armed with press coverage we’ve achieved to date, awards that we’ve won or been shortlisted for and reviews from our users. 

Beyond the dotted line

You’ve done it – contracts signed and partnership in place! But don’t stop there – keep the conversation going and maintain a close relationship with all your partners. You never know who they might introduce you to in future.

There’s no set formula for success when it comes to securing corporate partnerships, but perseverance is key. At the end of the day, you only need one ‘yes’ to get things going. We’ve certainly had our fair share of rejections in the past, but each “no” came with a lesson learnt and allowed us to be that much better in our next pitch to ultimately come out on top.

Douglas Lloyd is CEO and co-founder of Azoomee.

Image: Shutterstock

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