My American friends are getting ready for Thanksgiving. It’s a time for family and friends to gather together and be thankful for the gifts of the past year. In 1621 the early pilgrims held a feast with the native American Wampanoag people to share the bounty of the harvest. In 2020 my mates in New York will celebrate with turkey and pumpkin pie in a more socially distanced way than the Plymouth settlers.
How are you thanking your corporate partners this year? It’s been a turbulent time for everyone, and you’ll want to acknowledge and celebrate the ones who’ve stayed with you despite COVID challenges. It’s never been more important to nurture your corporate relationships and make them feel valued.
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 guide your stewardship.
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. Your non-profit is the vehicle to achieving impact, not the hero of the story. Can you provide impact reports, testimonials, stories- even better, video content to inspire them? Ronald McDonald House Charities thanked a key corporate partner by sharing videos from parents of the children who had benefited from their services. The videos 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 probably 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 lavish gifts, especially in current economic conditions. But you need to show each person that they are valued and appreciated. A business I worked with this year 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 manager 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.
Pump up the feelgood factor
A thankyou letter is nice, but they’ll remember their emotional response longer than they’ll recall a gift item. Plan International used a fabulous video of children dancing to Pharrell Williams to thank the corporate partners that had supported their work in emergency relief. You can’t fail to smile at the cheeky little faces on the video. If your partners feel good about working with you, they’ll stick around for longer.
Stewardship of 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.
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