In a webinar hosted in July 2019, CommonGenius, a platform connecting entrepreneurs with experts, featured Clinton Senkow. Senkow is the co-founder of Influencive and has raised over $30 million. His work has been featured in Forbes, Mashable, ThriveGlobal, and Inc. In his talk, Senkow divulged the steps to forming productive partnerships that could help take one’s business to the next level.
There are four steps to realizing profitable partnerships, says Senkow. They are: 1) Identifying; 2) Securing; 3) Leveraging; and 4) Maintaining.
As the leader of a brand, the first thing you need to do is identify which partnerships are worthy of your time, money, and effort. It may turn out that not every company or person will work for you, says Senkow. In order to narrow down your options, the expert recommends picking a “Dream 15.” These 15 companies, brands, or people are divided into three groups.
First, pick five potential partnerships that would be a dream come true. Next, pick five that are on the same level as your business or brand. And lastly, choose five companies who you are a little higher than--and who would likely benefit greatly from their partnership with you.
The next step, Senkow explains, is to secure or attract the brands that are in the target groups you selected earlier. Now is the time to figure out how you can get these brands’ attention. Try to figure out how you can distinguish your brand from competitors, and what you may have in common with your target partners. Senkow suggests asking yourself what you have to offer businesses potentially working with you.
For example, you can use different marketing, branding, and company messaging to distinguish yourself from brands that offer similar services or capture similar audiences. To attract the partnerships you want, you may also want to position your company in a way that aligns with (or complements) your targets’ potential customers, industries, specialties, and services.
Once you’ve secured partnerships with the right brands, now it’s time to use these partnerships to build your company. Senkow recommends asking yourself how you can utilize your partnership and keep your partner happy. Whether it’s sending them small gifts on a partnership anniversary or getting to know the CEO and sending them thank you letters, what’s important is finding the winning formula to keep the relationship productive and lucrative. It’s much easier to keep a partnership going than to start over and create a new one, the expert says.
In addition, start thinking about assets you have in your arsenal that you’re not leveraging as much as you could. Maybe you have an email list that could be advantageous for a potential partner or access to an audience your partner wants to engage. Cross promotion, shared email lists, webinars, campaigns, and live events are all mutually beneficial ways to make the most out of your relationship.
This leads us to the final step, which is maintaining a partnership. The key to maintaining a successful partnership is by being a friend and not a fan, advises Senkow. Don’t act like the business you’re partnering with is above you; when you act like a fan, people can sniff it out right away, and they’ll put their relationship with you in a box. By acting as a friend instead, you’re on a more level playing field. This will allow you to develop stronger long-term relationships.
One way to build friendship is by starting conversations with people, liking their products, and sharing their posts without asking for anything in return. By doing this, you are adding value to their brand and solidifying a deeper connection.
Once you’ve done this with one partner, now it’s time to, as Senkow says, “rinse and repeat.” Use your assets and your partners to prove to other brands why a partnership is beneficial. As you continue to extend your network and branch out, these smaller partnerships will compound in value--and so will your business.