Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.
When businesses partner together — whether for an ad campaign, product launch, promotion or any other reason — both should reap the rewards. But to ensure it’s a successful endeavor for all parties involved, there may be some necessary planning to do.
While the process doesn’t need to be complicated, there are some important steps to be taken and considerations to be made before either business will feel satisfied. To shine some light on those steps, 13 members from Rolling Stone Culture Council list some of the key actions to take to make sure your next partnership is a successful one.
Ensure All Parties Are Heard
When partnering and collaborating, we take the needs of the group into consideration to make sure all parties are heard and are getting the most out of the project. Prioritizing listening and incorporating different perspectives into a collaborative project is crucial and allows for a more well-rounded project. – Zena Harris, Green Spark Group
Discuss Each Other’s Goals
Get clear on each other’s goals and write them down. See what action steps are needed and what key performance indicators will demonstrate success. From there, you can find the “sweet spot” of the collaboration so everyone is focused on the same prize. It can be easy to assume what the other party’s goals are, but the real fun is when there is great energy working with your colleagues! – Lisa Buffo, Cannabis Marketing Association
Consider Your Compatibility
Successful partnerships are not easy to come by. I believe this is a function of poor selection criteria. Too often, the metric that’s focused on is the likelihood of a positive financial outcome. Instead, my highest priority is to only partner with those whom I genuinely like to be around, whom I respect and whom I’m happy to be associated with. For me, compatibility trumps profitability every time. – Neil Moore, Simply Music
Set Clear Expectations
Setting clear expectations upfront is the number one key to a successful collaboration. It’s critical to have direct conversations about finances, division of labor and an exit strategy. Once all of these aspects are mutually agreed upon, it is even more important to put the terms in writing. This will open up a pathway to explore a positive and productive collaboration. – Traci DeForge, Produce Your Podcast
Make Sure You’re Both Aligned
A partnership or collaboration is like a marriage. Are you aligned in brand values, goals and mission? If so, then a strong foundation is set for a successful partnership. – Vanessa Gabriel, Drop Delivery
Over-Communicate During Planning and Execution
You must align on goals, leverage the best of each organization, recognize one another’s strengths and weaknesses and build a perfectly synced-up plan. But you can’t predict the future, and stuff happens. Quick daily standups are a clever way to keep everyone on track and can empower the team to improve on your plan throughout the process. – Michael Klein, Miraculo Inc.
Keep in Mind Your Desired Outcome
Slow down and keep in mind the business outcome expectations. Too often, teams, products and companies rush to announce collaboration as a way of driving market or consumer interest. Mindful market and data evaluation bring a higher outcome of success commercially for new partnerships, collaborations, etc. – Joshua Adragna, Enlighten
Resist Being Self-Centered
If you’re looking to collaborate with other small businesses or creators, really think about what you want out of the deal. But even more importantly, candidly ask what’s in it for them. Ask yourself if the collaboration enhances both brands fairly and whether you really understand your collaborator’s goals before going for the close. Align for mutual success. – Marcus Cobb, Jammber, Inc.
Agree on a Definition of ‘Success’
Ensure the businesses agree on how success is defined ahead of time. We worked with a group that sought awareness marketing while our goal was ROI. Different desired outcomes result in a mismatch. By aligning on the goal and how to get there, businesses can successfully partner. A bonus is finding a partner with the same cultural fit and target audience to resonate even further with customers. – Jessica Billingsley, Akerna
Synchronize Your Social Media Strategies
You have to synchronize your social media strategy both in terms of type and timing. It’s essential that you each leverage your respective platforms and people to ensure that your project is a success. It’s the difference between raindrops on the surface of a lake or dropping in a big rock — the effect will be more powerful when you pool your resources. – Lynn Rosenthal, Periscape
Ensure the Project Speaks to All Parties
The content, branding and messaging should successfully speak both to the audience and on behalf of the brand. This is crucial for authenticity to be expressed in a way that the campaign will actually yield results instead of falling flat and being perceived as corporate or forced. – Ash Avildsen, Sumerian Records
Find a Mutually Beneficial Economic Solution
Perhaps one party really needs reach and the other requires revenue. Or, perhaps one is focused on brand awareness and the other on NPS. By finding partners with different economic drivers, one can structure a deal that helps both achieve the optimal outcome. When brands want the same thing, it can be more challenging to find a win-win. – John Tabis, The Bouqs Company
Consider Your Partner’s Point of View
I try to look through the other person’s eyes to see what they need and how I may be of service to them and add value. This way, I go beyond the ordinary. Going the extra mile can create not only extraordinary results, but also extraordinary relationships. – Larry Dvoskin, Miracle Music Inc.