7 ways to build your business and brand partnership muscle

We detail how chief marketing officers can lead their organisation's external partnership strategy more effectively and successfully


5. Know what value means to both parties

Turgoose is another who stresses clarity around how both sides are realising value as vital.

“Approaching things like a genuine partnership, where it has to be materially interesting to the other party as a way of working has been a learning for me, particularly over the last year. It’s about mutual value and embracing that as much as possible,” he comments.  

While monetary value and sales growth are often elements of partnership, NT Tourism executive director of marketing, Tony Quarmby, says many of the most impactful and non-traditional partnerships he’s pursued are where there isn’t a monetary value but other forms of pay back.

“That’s where it’s less about numbers and more about relevance and engagement of that audience,” he says. “We would much rather have a smaller and engaged audience, than a large reach and lots of likes and emojis. We try and find those brands and companies with those engaged audiences then have the brand attributes we want to be seen associated with emphasises.”

What’s more, non-traditional partnerships are often about partners outside the travel spectrum. “This allows us to talk to a consumer in a different way to how we normally would,” Quarmby says.

6. Check cultural and sustainability credentials

Yet Quarmby is quick to point out neither audience reach nor external brand alignment would have been worth engaging in if partnership didn’t also have the right values and credentials through their products and supply chain.

“Whoever you partner with, that brand will rub off on you in terms of your brand and the messages you want to put out there. In this day and age, if you partner with the wrong brand and they say or do something out in the space, you’ll be impacted,” Quarmby says.

To overcome this issue, NT Tourism has devised a thorough scoping and desktop research process on any prospective company it plans to partner with, checking their social feeds and followers, eco-credentials, as well as political stance.

“Yes, they may be agnostic in what they believe politically, but even that has a reflection on you. Because if they don’t take a stance, that can increasingly turn consumers off,” Quarmby says. “The days of companies sitting on fences are diminishing quickly. Consumers want to know what you stand for before making a purchase decision. That’s especially the case for high-value purchase decision, which holidays can often be.”

This process saw NT Tourism knock back an approach from one fashion company, for instance. “They were getting a lot of flak for how much wastage their products and activities generated. We didn’t want to be associated with that,” Quarmby says.

“We did see another destination partner with them later and that did come out. You have to be more thorough than ever.”

7. Solve the customer’s problem

With all of that said, impact of any partnership is ultimately going to come from solving the consumer’s problem or need in some way.

“If it’s not a consumer problem that has already surfaced, you will probably find it won’t be super engaging,” Morley argues. “We have spent a lot of time in workshops with businesses interested in partnering, who have a lot of scale or might be interested in an idea worth exploring, and it’s rarely something mutually beneficial for both sets of customers.

“Going in and being really clear about what is the problem is you’re trying to solve and making sure both parties really are committed to solving that is key, because it is a big risk. But when you do it, it’s magic and can spur a lot of other things, partnerships and ideas.”

To unearth these customer pain points and opportunities, Daleng recommends going back to the customer narrative first.

“Sit down, understand your customer and make it into a movie: What is the first thing they do in the morning when they open their eyes? What do they do? What coffee brand do they drink? Do they turn on the TV or an app? How could you work with that app, or get in front of them?

“Figure out who they are, and their patterns of behaviour, then think about what your brand can do within that lifecycle or journey that’s relevant for them.”

Read our series of case studies on Australian CMOs and brands pursuing partnerships:

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