I love watching my 3 year-old make friends. It’s so innocent and there is absolutely no fear of failure. She is Frozen obsessed and for her it’s as simple as ‘oh you like Elsa, I do too. Want to play with me?’. She finds a simple similarity and that’s enough for her to make friends. If you think about your own friendships, I bet that you have lots of similarities too. You might have similar interests such as catching up to watch sport (go Liverpool!), have similar attitudes, values or personality traits. We all want connection and humans tend to like other people with whom we have things in common. Similarities are often responsible for the initial attraction with new friends and they’re also often glue that keep friendships together.
Corporate Partnerships are exactly the same, it’s just the categories of similarities that are different. If you want to be successful in securing new partners use the seven categories below and you will identify lots of businesses that you’ll have great synergies with.
Here are the different categories that I look for:
How does your organisation describe itself? What distinctive words describe who you are and differentiates you from others? This is something I did for a major UK campaign, Christmas Jumper Day and ended up with a prospect list of jumper retailers, knitting manufacturers, washing detergents. It’s amazing what prospects will pop up when you brainstorm in this way.
2. Core business and core program alignment
In a similar way to brand, what word is at the core of what you do? For example, education, mental health, sport, children etc… Which companies also have their core business in the same field? Think along the lines of Kids Under Cover (homelessness) partnering with First National Real Estate (homes), Ronald McDonald House Charities (family accommodation) and Amart Furniture (affordable home furnishings).
What does your organisation stand for? Qantas promotes inclusion and positions themselves as the airline for every Australian, so it made perfect sense to align with the recent Marriage Equality campaign. St Kilda Mums want to prevent pre-used baby and children’s equipment from ending up in landfill. What businesses are also known for their positive environmental footprint?
Does your organisation know in detail who it is talking to? Great, because you’re looking for companies that share that audience or want it to be their future audience. For example, if you have a female, affluent audience of age 35 – 50 think about that they normally do. Where do they eat, shop, spend their free time etc? Those are the businesses you want on your prospect list.
5. Geographic locations
Businesses often like to give in the community in which they operate. What businesses are working in the same community as your organisation, or are moving into your community? Transport Accident Commission (TAC) invested in community organisations in the Geelong area once its business relocated there in order to build connections with the local community. Do you know your existing business neighbours or your soon-to-be neighbours?
6. Vested interest in your success
If your organisation if super successful and achieves its mission, what businesses are set to gain by this? A great example of this is NRMA insurance partnering with Queensland State Emergency Services (SES) to strengthen both organisations. Both organisations aim to support safe and resilient communities and NRMA also has the added benefit of less insurance claims and lower premiums if the SES are successful in the wonderful work that they do.
7. Your strongest assets
Once you have completed your asset catalogue, what stands out? Is there anything unique or niche? Do you have a mass participation event? Now have a think, who might be interested in what makes you special or unique.
When you’ve worked your way through these different categories of synergy, you’ll have a long list of potential partners. Are there prospects that appear in multiple categories? Great, you’ve identified strong alignment! Now investigate and research these prospects to qualify them further.
Your aim is to find the businesses that are similar enough to you that you may be able to complement each other’s work. Yes, you might have different objectives and purposes for entering into a partnership but if there is a good alignment then there is a reason to begin a relationship and explore where it might go. No relationship is ever perfect but if you can start by focusing on your similarities then it might just grow into something meaningful for the both of you.
Please contact us for help in finding the perfect prospect list for your organisation via firstname.lastname@example.org