Moving With New Tools to New Relationships
The past few years bloggers and brands have worked together to move messages through communities and across the Internet. It was a natural transition for a broadcast-based system to move some of their marketing and advertising from print publishers to online audiences.
In many cases, what has occurred is that brands have chosen to use the new tools with an outdated view to how reaching customers work. Though the brands have given this new relationship a new name – blogger outreach – that implies relationship, the goal behind the outreach is often still product mentions in the form of blog posts and eyeballs looking at them.
It may be easier on the short term to hire a blog post or offer something free in hopes of getting bloggers to write about it than to develop a relationship, but as more big and little brands bombard big and little blogs with pitches and product samples, the less attention any brand can get.
And it always was true that …
Old thinking and old methods aren’t the best use of new tools in a new cultural mix. The best brands — businesses big and small — are already making the move from outreach and focus groups to partnerships. The best business bloggers are taking the initiative to build relationships like that too.
A Checklist for Building a Solid Partner Relationship
Great brands, savvy small businesses, and the best business bloggers know the best business relationships are a partnership in which both sides align goals and work together on a shared mission not a single campaign or opportunity. Here’s a checklist for building a solid partner relationship that can do that.
- Check for similar team size and bias toward action. What you’re looking for is a similar time-goal orientation. If your business can turn on a dime and needs one person to make a decision, you’ll be at a disadvantage working with a business that is highly driven by several step processes. The business with the most approval stages always wins control.
- Check for shared values and like standards. What you want to determine is that you and your partner agree on what makes great work and great service to each other, the business, and the customers. These intangibles can’t be described in a contract. They have to be discussed deliberately. Do that.
- Check that you have the same vision and mission in view. What’s important to determine here is that your mission critical goals for the work are truly aligned, that you see the same ending outcome, and that you’re sharing the same kind of risk. Find out before the work starts if your views don’t match — you don’t want to find out later that you were building a partnership and the other team thought of you as a channel of distribution.
- Check that you agree on roles, process, and vocabulary. What you want is concreteness of the “how” the partnership will work. This conversation will bring you to who owns which part and what responsibilities go with that.
- Check that you have clear boundaries and realize differences in your time-goal orientation. What you want to bring up here is the idea of “scope creep.” How will you alert each other when the relationship needs re-balancing? What will be the communication methods for changes to the plan, the process, or resource and budgetary needs?
- Check that you have discussed how you will share the risk and share the benefits. What is important here is a conversation about how the vision will play out, what will be required from both teams to secure the win, and how the rewards will be shared when you bring it in.
This checklist is a conversation that stands outside the making of a deal memo or a contract. It’s a relationship meeting of the minds. The accuracy of the conversation needs to be tested after you’ve gone through the checklist. You can do that easily by following these two rules.
- Take one small unit of work through the process to verify your thinking about the roles and the scope of the work. At each step of that prototype, keep what worked and revise what didn’t.
- Throughout the relationship, review the results quickly, constantly, consistently and adjust to keep improving the process and the relationship. As you build trust, sleek down the checkpoints to let each partner do their work without unnecessary interruption.
Sound like a lot? It’s really not. If you think about it, it’s two meetings and keeping your head, heart, and vision in the partnership. They say a good partner can divide grief and multiply success. I can tell you that this process can bring you a lot closer to ensuring that.
How do you build a solid partner relationships?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!
I’m a proud affiliate of