Last winter, I became obsessed with the idea of getting snow boots. I live in an igloo (almost), have Raynaud’s disease and with staying home every day I thought snow boots would be the perfect solution to keeping me warm. In the UK, I keep a pair and use them whenever I go back for Christmas. I was obsessed with getting a pair just like them. Knee high, super comfy, fleece lined and they look good(ish) with jeans. These would be the answer to my prayers for warmth whilst working. If only I could get my hands on them!!!
I looked in all my usual shops and even went to a few outdoor specialist shops to see if they had some that were similar. No luck! Go figure – it doesn’t snow in Melbourne!! I started to search online but was a bit put off by the risk of them not fitting and mainly by the shipping costs. It’s expensive to ship snow boots from other countries. I gave up.
My question for you is how does this relate to your situation right now? We all need to work smarter and not harder as partnership managers, as there are so many competing priorities. Here’s a few of my thoughts that might help you work a bit smarter this year.
Finding the market
If I was looking for snow boots in winter in England (like when I originally bought them) then it would be super easy to find ones I liked, with a price that suited me. How does this relate to partnerships? Are you looking for partners in the right industries? Ones that you have a strong value proposition for and they have what will further your organisational strategy. You might just be finding things difficult right now because your proposition isn’t quite right, or you’re talking to companies that you can’t offer something valuable too. If you can fix these things, you’re going to have much greater success.
Understanding what’s important
Why did I really want snow boots? They have a really thick sole. I was hoping they would protect my feet from the cold coming through my wooden floorboards. I was telling a friend about my obsession and she kept asking me why? Why was I so obsessed with snow boots. After hearing about the thick sole she suggested that walking boots have similar soles. Great suggestion! A whole new category for me to explore.
Have you thought about asking the same question to your current or prospective partners. Finding out about what is important to them and drilling down on their why will help you understand how you can meet their needs. You might be surprised by what’s really driving their desires, but you won’t know unless you ask. And keep asking. Until you have a clear picture of what they want to achieve.
Be clear on the problem you’re trying to solve
Why was I obsessed with snow boots? Mainly because my house is cold. That’s the problem I should have been solving. Better heating, cover the floorboards or just moving to a place that isn’t an igloo could have worked. There are often multiple solutions to the problem you are trying to solve.
Years ago I had a partner that really wanted to be a main campaign partner but couldn’t afford the minimum cash commitment of $100K to have their name up in lights. I couldn’t budge on the minimum commitment but I loved the company, got on well with my key contact and the business was a great fit for the campaign. After lots of probing questions and a willingness on both of our parts to find a solution we came up with one. The business had a parent company that owns all the shopping channels. They were able to make up the minimum commitment to us with free advertising for DRTV ads on their channels. Long term, this turned out to be much more valuable than the $100K commitment.
In an economy that is still bouncing around because of the impact of Covid it’s more important than ever to be smart about who you are going after and defining what you have to offer to them. You’ll be much more successful selling snow boots in Wanaka in winter, than in Hawaii. Have the same market focus for your partnerships program. If you can get really good at defining who is the right market for you, understanding what’s important to them and presenting a valuable solution you’ll be successful. Save yourself the disappointment of lots of hard work but no wins because you’re making it really hard for people to buy you. Make it easy for them to say yes. You’ll thank me later.