Learn how to develop strategic alliances. Alliance development and implementation can be as simple as A, B, C—well, actually A to G. I’m sure you can handle the extra letters. Follow this easy guide when building your marketing alliances or any strategic alliances for that matter, and your chances of success will increase ten fold.
- Assess yourself and or your organization through the traditional SWOT model; strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to determine your reasons for alliance development. You first have to be quite clear as to what core competencies you have to offer a potential partner. Similarly, you have to know what you need from a partner to seek the correct partner having the correct competencies. Without this clarity, your chance of success is miniscule.
- Be sure about your partner. This is where so many alliance development novices go wrong. After the assessment of your potential partner’s competencies, now comes the necessary step in also determining their propensity to partnering. Just because another has a core competency that you need, there is no guarantee that they will willingly share it. Be smart, be sure.
- Conduct a pre-alliance agreement workshop among both companies, including the people that will be acting as the alliance functionaries. Here is where most of the problems need to be hashed out before the agreement goes to the lawyers. The workshop process is designed to reveal gremlins, particularly in the areas of culture, relationship, cooperation, and logistics. This activity will minimize lawyer costs, conflict resolution costs and false-start costs.
- Determine your alliance structure. This is where you determine how formal your alliance relationship will become. There is a range from a casual handshake relationship through the traditional strategic alliance to a joint venture. While structure can evolve over time, you are far better off to determine the correct structure for your alliance in the beginning.
- Execute the agreement. This is where, as the saying goes, the rubber hits the pavement. This is where you put up your precious resources. This is where you craft the written agreement and sign on the dotted line. Yes, you must have a written agreement outlining who is responsible for what. Who owns what and how conflict is to be handled. This is where you make a commitment to your partner.
- Fuel the implementation fire. Getting your alliance from paper to activity requires plenty of fuel from both partners in the form of hard resources, time, and mindshare. Fuel is the currency of alliance structure, implementation and long term success. You must be willing to use some of yours when engaging in alliance relationships of any type. To be very specific, fuel means:
- Human resources
Great results require measurement and management. Plenty of alliance management tools have been developed over the last decade and they are available to you today. Some of the very important alliance measurement and management tools include:
- Alliance managers
- Joint planning
- Joint evaluation tools
- Individual evaluation methods
- Alliance success metrics
- Corporate alliance department
- Employee alliance deployment, generally full-time
Ed is the Founder and CEO of the 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, Cigar PEG Philanthropy through Fun, and president at Rigsbee Research which conducts qualitative member ROI research and consulting for associations and societies. He has been called “the dynamite that broke up our log jam” by association executives—rarely politically correct and almost always provocative—and from a dozen years as a United States Soccer Federation referee, Ed calls it the way he sees it. Exceptional resources at www.rigsbee.com.
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