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Stellar Partnerships

4 tips to make your partners feel loved

“There is no duty more indispensable than returning a kindness” Cicero

Only two more haircuts to the end of the year! My friend measures time in haircuts rather than sleeps, so it shocked me how little of 2022 we have left. When my kids were young, I’d be super organised and hit the mid-year toy sale at Target to stock up. Now I’m struggling through the shopping mall frenzy a few days before Christmas in desperation. Time really does speed up as you get older.

How are you acknowledging and thanking your corporate partners this year? It’s been a busy time for everyone, and you’ll want to celebrate the ones who’ve supported you. In the busyness of the year, don’t leave it to the last minute to make them feel loved.

Acquiring a new partner is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.  Research done by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company (the inventor of the net promoter score)  shows that increasing retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. Make sure you’re investing time to thank your partners so you can reap the harvest of future growth. Here are some tips to get you thinking about acknowledging your partners.

Highlight the impact

I’m sure they love working with your non-profit. But it’s not really about you. You need to highlight the difference they are making in the world as a result of your partnership. Can you provide impact reports, testimonials, stories- even better, video content to inspire them? A children’s hospice thanked a key corporate partner by sharing letters from parents of the children who had benefited from their services. The letters were simple and unpolished, but authentic and emotional. Connecting your partners with their community impact will inspire them to stay with you. They’ll also have valuable content they will be proud to share with their staff and networks. An extra win for your brand awareness and engagement.

Celebrate the individual

You probably have one or two key contacts for your corporate partnership. They’re the ones who do the leg work, even if they don’t control budget decisions. You’ll need to consider the key individuals in your corporate partnership and ensure you appropriately recognise each of them. That doesn’t mean Rolex watches, especially in current economic conditions. Remember how you’d buy expensive toys for the kids, but they spent the day playing with the box and the wrapping? You need to show each person that they are valued and appreciated. A business I worked with surprised me with a gift at the end of the project. It was a packet of seeds. Everlasting daisies to grow in my garden, in the same way they helped me grow my business. Get creative and give it a personal touch to nurture your key contacts and decision makers.

Consider who does the thanking

Sometimes it needs more than the corporate partnership executive to do the thanking. It can be more impactful for your partner to have a personal thankyou call or note from your CEO or board chair. If you’re trying to nurture a key decision maker or budget holder, then go up the hierarchy to make them feel important. Peer level recognition is very powerful, and it can be as simple as a phone call, or a short video done on the CEO’s phone that makes the recipient feel special and acknowledged.

Pump up the feelgood factor

A thankyou letter is nice but give them something to dial up an emotional response and they’ll recall it for longer. Here are some ideas that we’ve seen from some really thoughtful non-profits:

  • A scrapbook with photos, highlights and snippets from the partnership during the year
  • A little jar of thanks- with notes from the kids who were beneficiaries of the partnership
  • Cupcakes decorated with pawprints for the key contact that loved dogs
  • A book of inspirational nature photos for the partner of an environmental charity.
  • Video of children singing and dancing in one of the partnership’s key programs.

Acknowledging corporate partners is even more important in current economic conditions. If you can make your partner feel valued and celebrated for the difference they’re making to the world, then you’re on the right path for a long and fruitful relationship.