I have been involved with many commercial and philanthropic partnerships and sponsorships. There were many unofficial partnerships that developed and are still beneficial today. Mostly these were direct connections with people. Partnership’s blossomed with people that enjoyed working together and knew they had made a difference.
It never ceased to amaze me when organisations would come knocking about a particular “opportunity” rarely with anything tangible in it for the company I was working for. Most of them meant a lot of hard work was required by my team. We didn’t look at partnerships that were not going to increase sales or escalate brand awareness. Marketing journals often quote “add 30% in time or cost to manage or maximise a commercial partnership or sponsorship”, which I think is often understated.
People assume they know what is good for you or your business. Unless you are engaged to give advice, I would suggest ask the question before you give the answer. If you can then add value to a company, by all means a partnership or sponsorship should then progress.
It will not last unless there is benefit to both sides, like any relationship. And if official, the plan and the expectations should be clearly defined and measured. I remember a fantastic sporting sponsorship once that was enormously beneficial, but it was the individual who managed our account that made it so, not the actual brand of the team. I recall another Philanthropic one that after the initial sign up we never heard from the organisation again, when it came to re-sign for another year clearly we didn’t.
When people recommend you or pass you sales leads with absolutely no expectation of anything in return, that is a beautiful working relationship. People are genuinely happy to recommend you, if they trust you and your work. How do you reciprocate? I suggest at the very least a shout out of thanks. But perhaps more dependant on how much time and effort this would have taken the lead provider.
Sometimes you may recommend or assist another business (often a friend) for free, because you really want to help. Without discussing actual outcomes there is disappointment if you feel that this is not appreciated or reciprocated. It is best to nip this in the bud, rather than oscillating over it as if there was not discussion of reciprocation. You cannot really be too disillusioned, perhaps not everyone is as generous or aware as you are. But time is money so decide how much of your free time you will give up and to whom. Sometimes simply by stating it that can help. I am prepared to help you for 6 weeks, I am happy to give you advice for an hour per week etc.
When you choose to collaborate
When you find such partners that you are really happy to recommend and they choose to recommend you, this is a great way of working. And while this can be unwritten, it is unlikely to strengthen unless it is mutually beneficial. There are groups both formal and informal (mostly in small retail type businesses) whereby people collaborate and must provide a certain amount of sales leads. There are others that target specific business together. With any of these types of business relationships I suggest all parties understand what they are committing too, and what they are likely to receive in return. .
A strong recommendation from me, is don’t endorse anyone unless you really believe in them or their product or service. Clockwise Consulting is absolutely delighted to make recommendations when asked and actively will promote collaborators who we work with. Or causes we are engaged with. With over 20 years in hospitality tourism and sales we are often asked for web developers, our feedback on CRM’s, staff recommendations and of course venue and destinations. We will be launching our page of recommended spaces and places shortly.